Hipster home from home
It’s unusual to feel right at home when you travel. It’s partly the reason why I love visiting New York so much. For the most part, people jet off on holiday to experience something new, but there is something to be said about occasionally being surrounded by the familiar. And so it is at the Hoxton Williamsburg, the maiden venture on the other side of the pond by this burgeoning UK brand, which has brought with it all the style and flair synonymous with contemporary British culture. It’s perhaps the reason why it fits so seamlessly with its surroundings in NYC’s most famous hipster stronghold.
Williamsburg is one of the most interesting parts of Brooklyn right now. Gentrification from a poor working class area had been decades in the making, but in recent years it has accelerated at breakneck speed with its old industrial units providing spaces for edgy galleries, boutique shops, trendy coffee shops and celebrated restaurants, not to mention blank canvases for arresting street art murals. It’s little wonder more visitors are deciding to venture beyond Manhattan, choosing to stay and explore this side of the East River.
Budget or boutique?
The boutique chain has fashioned a formidable reputation thanks to existing outposts in London, Paris and Amsterdam and now its sights are set on conquering the US with a string of openings planned across the country, the hotel in Williamsburg being the first.
The tone for my stay was set as I descended into the subterranean lobby, with its inviting pastel armchairs, floral settees and roaring fireplaces. Up in my stylish and cosy ninth-floor room, with its king-size bed as standard, the retro motif continued with a Roberts radio, plush dark wood floor and fixtures (including a fold-down bureau desk), monochrome bed sheets and brass light fittings. The white subway-tiled bathroom was simplistic but authentic New York, kitted out with bl-nk toiletries. The crowning glory was the view, which looked out over Manhattan.
Wining and dining
I made a point of dining at the hotel’s main restaurant, Klein’s, on a jumping Saturday night, surrounded by locals and guests alike salivating over the all-day, Americana-infused menu while quaffing drinks mixed behind its brass-topped island bar. Klein’s is one of three places to eat in the hotel, with Backyard – a second-floor terrace bar – offering lighter bites with ping-pong tables and sun loungers. Last but not least is Summerly, a rooftop bar with sofas you melt into.
Worth getting out of bed for
If the view of the Empire State Building and the Midtown skyline from the floor-to-ceiling windows of my room wasn’t enough to inspire a yearning to explore, the walk to the hotel from the subway on arrival certainly was. While many of the rough edges of Williamsburg are being gradually smoothed out, the streets still retain bags of gritty character. I got to grips with the neighbourhood on foot, getting a taste of the area’s rich immigrant heritage on the Williamsburg Bites foodie tour operated by Like A Local Tours. Of course, there are many more districts that are deserving of your attention, including DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) where you can amble through the seasonal Brooklyn Flea, or Bushwick, which is the home to a prolific street artists collective. The Hoxton is also only a short walk to the L train subway or the East River ferry pier to get to Manhattan.
While the rooms are pared back to make sensible economies with space, there were lots of little touches that ticked my boxes. First and foremost, the hour of free international calls from your room phone was something to write home about. The room’s mini fridge was restocked daily with fresh water bottles while usually exorbitant hotel minibar goodies were available at shop prices from the lobby.
A trendy, design lover’s haven in the city that never sleeps, the Hoxton Williamsburg offers the quintessential New York experience without the wallet-busting price tag.
• Double cosy rooms start from $149 (£116), including a light, healthy breakfast bag. The Hoxton, 97 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, New York (thehoxton.com)