Brooklyn Travel Guide
Summer is almost here, and as many folks start planning their annual pilgrimage to the Big Apple, we thought we'd offer some tips on where to book a hotel—and save ton$$ of money—in NYC's hottest borough du jour, Brooklyn! Jay-Z and Beyonce sightings not guaranteed.
Hotel BPM: Modern, clean, and super affordable, the Hotel BPM is Brooklyn's first music-themed hotel, owned by an internationally-known DJ. It opened last summer with starting rates of $139/night, and luckily, prices haven't gone up too much since then. Right now, with their 21-day Advance Purchase special, you can find rooms this summer starting as low as $171.75/night—even better, the hotel just launched its in-room dining menu, available 24/7.
Two more cheap Brooklyn hotels after the jump!
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It was announced two weeks ago that the MTV Video Music Awards will be heading to Barclays Center on August 25, making it the first major annual awards show to ever pick Brooklyn over Manhattan. And if you plan on doing the same with your hotel room, you better act fast. The following Brooklyn hotels still have availability on the big night, but time's running out!
Opened last September, Hotel BPM would be an obvious choice, as it's Brooklyn's (and, as far as we know, Manhattan's) only music-themed hotel, with a DJ-curated playlist that pulses all day long through Bose speakers installed around the hotel (of course, if you don't feel like jammin' out to Beyonce, you can always turn the volume control knob to 'off.' Rates from $309.
The Wythe Hotel is a 20-minute train ride from the venue where the VMAs will take place, but it's by far Brooklyn's coolest hotel at the moment. Though we've had some issues with ill-tempered waitresses, we mostly love the place for its gritty industrial vibe and glorious sixth-floor rooftop bar. Rates from $305.
Lindsay Lohan at the former Beatrice Inn
We cover plenty of Manhattan news here on HotelChatter, but we just can't deny the hotel invasion that's been happening in the city's outer boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island) lately, and which continues to gain momentum.
Just the other week, we reported on an 89-year-old mansion in the Bronx being converted into a 10-room boutique hotel. Now, we learn that a new 82-room boutique hotel is taking shape in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn.
Though it's still in the planning stages right now, the Gowanus Inn & Yard is set to make a splash in the local nightlife scene when it opens in 2015. It turns out the project is being led by Matt Abramcyk, a well-known restauranteur who was behind Manhattan's wildly popular Beatrice Inn.
And even though no one's touting this place as "Beatrice Inn Part 2," Capital New York leaked a memo from the developers, which announces Abramcyk as the "principal of the food & beverage entity which will operate all the hotel's public spaces." As in, get ready, because the party's coming to Gowanus.
King & Grove Williamsburg, or, as it was formerly known, Hotel Williamsburg, made a pretty big splash when it first opened in 2011 as Williamsburg's first proper boutique hotel. With a nice big flashy outdoor pool deck, a rooftop, and even a trendy restaurant with locally-sourced ingredients, all the elements seemed in place.
Then things started to go wrong. First, the restaurant got shut down after being open for just one month. Shortly after, the hotel announced it had been taken over by King & Grove, with "exciting changes" on the way (that we've yet to see).
Then, last May, The Wythe Hotel opened two blocks away, trumping K&G Williamsburg in almost every way (original design, hip crowd, view-tastic rooftop bar, and a restaurant that actually stayed open).
Now, a year later, we're wondering what's up with King & Grove Williamsburg?
The NY Post announced this morning that a brand new 39-story, 200-room hotel will go up at 95 Rockwell Place, which is just three blocks north of where the Barclays Center sits, and just one block from Brooklyn Academy of Music, another of the borough's major cultural institutions.
This is great news for Barclays Center fans, but hardly surprising.
The 18,000-seat arena co-owned by Jay-Z was a huuuge deal for the entire borough when it opened last summer, and it always struck us as odd that no plans were ever announced for accompanying hotels. Sure, there are a few nearby—Marriott Brooklyn Bridge, Indigo Brooklyn, Nu Hotel, Aloft Brooklyn and Sheraton Brooklyn—but not nearly enough to accommodate the number of visitors that Barclays Center is supposed to be bringing.
However, this is definitely a step in the right direction. The full-service hotel will be designed by Thomas Leeser, who masterminded the London 2012 Olympic Park, and will include a basement performance space, rooftop bar, banquet hall and ground-floor restaurant. No word on the brand yet, but we wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be an independent project.
Project manager (and former Brooklyn Borough Chief of Staff) Gregory Atkins told the Post: "the district was long overdue to get a hotel." Well, we're glad somebody's agreeing with us!
See a rendering of the hotel, which will open in 2015, after the jump!
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The other day, we were meeting friends for brunch and settled on a restaurant in a Brooklyn hotel which shall remain unnamed*. We'd heard nice things, and having popped inside the lobby once or twice, we figured it would be an opportunity to soak up the vibe, relax, and eat good food.
It all started when the hostess refused to seat us until the rest of our party had arrived, even though we could see plenty of open tables. Fine. We told them we'd wait in the lobby and order some tea. Well, we had to elbow our way to the bar to get that done. And after one barista impatiently took our order, we lingered for ten minutes waiting for the tea to materialize (how hard can it be? You fill a pot with water and stick a teabag in it) before giving up and heading back to the lobby.
Five minutes later, another grouchy barista tracked us down in the lobby to inform us our tea was sitting at the bar—in other words, he could have brought it out to us, but didn't. OK, we said, we'll come get it. On the way back to the bar, we requested that the tea just be added to our brunch bill since we'd already put our names down for a table.
"Fine," he said, as if we'd just asked him to commit adultery.
Evidently, this was not off to a good start.
What you're looking at is the view from a Baby Queen room at The Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn. This is one of six rooms in the hotel that essentially backs up to a brick wall. Which would normally relegate it to severe anti-view status (anyone remember this eyesore we found last year in Baltimiore?). Luckily for guests, the Wythe has commissioned a local artist to liven up the view with some sweet graffiti. Problem averted!
Graffiti or not, though, it's still a brick wall. And if you can book a "Manhattan View King room" (not pictured here), then you absolutely should. Street art is nice, but we'd take some skyscrapers over a popsicle-wielding cartoon character any day.
Click through to see photos from inside the room!
[UPDATE, 10:14am: A source from the hotel has informed us that Christian was in fact able to stay on at the hotel, and was not displaced. The Post ran the story while the situation was still being resolved. FEMA didn't confirm the extension until the last minute, which obviously made it difficult for the hotel, which was already full, to accommodate the request.]
For many Sandy victims in New York and New Jersey, government-provided hotel rooms have become an appealing solution: a warm bed in a safe, clean environment, and, if they're lucky, a built-in restaurant, and a pool for the kids to play in.
But what if FEMA screws up your reservation?
That's exactly what happened to eight-months-pregnant Keri Christian, who was staying at the NU Hotel in Brooklyn when she was abruptly kicked out of her room, two weeks ahead of her scheduled departure.
The NY Post reports that though FEMA had originally approved her stay through Dec 14, a reservation error meant the 27-year-old pregnant Staten Islander (and her 2-year-old daughter) were suddenly homeless—and there wasn't much the hotel could do.
To read a statement from the hotel GM, click below!
With plenty of subway lines still down in NYC, we decided to take a ride around Brooklyn yesterday afternoon on our bike. Lo and behold, cruising down a small side street in Greenpoint, what do we find, but an adorable little boutique hotel tucked away under the Pulaski Bridge, the northernmost section of Brooklyn.
Though we've never heard of it, the Box House Hotel has in fact been open for a year and a half, and is just now starting to get some attention. For starters: the shout-out they got in this weekend's travel section of the NY Times. The Brooklyn hotel scene, says the Times, is blowing up, with certain places (ahem, King & Grove Williamsburg) charging about as much as the average Manhattan hotel.
Our first question, therefore, was how much does a standard room here go for during the off-peak: $159/night. Not bad!
So what's it like inside?
Are you one of the lucky fans going to Jay-Z’s final two concerts tonight and tomorrow at the Barclays Center? Or do you plan on exploring the new center in the future and hitting the bars along Smith Street? Well, then you’ll need a place to crash, won’t you?
It just so happens that NU Hotel Brooklyn has a “Sleep It Off” package for late-night revelers. What you’ll get is a room and two cans of Mercy (a supposed hangover prevention beverage) for $199.00 plus tax.
But, here’s the thing, you can only get the room by showing up in person after midnight for the same day. So, you’re basically losing 9 hours of hotel luxuriating from the normal 3pm check-in time, but you are getting a cheaper rate, which can be as high as $299 mid-week. You’ll also bypass the “3-night minimum on weekends” rule when being spontaneous.
BTW if you didn’t get Jay-Z tickets (like some of us), you’ll be able to watch Saturday’s concert for free as it’ll be live-streamed to kick-start his new YouTube channel, “Jay's Life + Times”.
The year was 1949 and the largest hotel in New York City wasn't near Times Square, or Grand Central Station or even Wall Street. It's the St. George Hotel, a behemoth of a building, boasted over 2,600 rooms and a "world famous" saltwater swimming pool, the largest indoor one in the US at the time. Where's it at, you ask? Brooklyn, baby.
Brownstoner dug up a slew of similarly intriguing facts about this property, which once was quite the landmark for travelers seeking "moderately priced" accommodation in a city that's been known for its tippy-top nightly rates since, well...ever:
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The other day we were wandering around inside Brooklyn's The Wythe Hotel when we headed to the back of the lobby area, and discovered that the floor-to-ceiling bookcase, which sat empty on our last visit, had finally been filled—and boy, did someone get creative.
Looking through each shelf, we spotted everything from the Idiot's Guide To Learning Yiddish to the entire The Hardy Boys series to cookbooks to vintage board games like Monopoly, Connect 4 and the MAD Magazine game.
But as we recall, we also stumbled upon a nifty collection of books earlier this summer over at the The NoMad—so is this all part of some new trend? Wasn't print media supposedly going the way of the dinosaurs? Well, apparently not if NYC's two biggest new boutique hotels have anything to do with it.