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The William Vale hotel, Williamsburg
The hottest postcode in Brooklyn right now, WV is set back several blocks from the East River right in the thick of Williamsburg, close to shops on Bedford Street, with the Brooklyn Brewery across the road. Smorgasburg, Brooklyn's weekly food market, is held nearby in East River State Park on Saturdays, and Rough Trade for indie record shopping is only a few blocks away.
This statement hotel sprouts like a mushroom cloud with artsy W-V pillars forming the shape of this top-heavy building. Three inviting common areas draw guests back from day outings including a stylish patio separating the lobby and its onsite doughnut and coffee shop. The fourth level holds a pool which is said to be Brooklyn's longest. Here there's also an Airstream named Mister Dips, serving cocktails and snacks, and an extensive rooftop garden where guests can relax or let their pets go for a run.
But the real drawcard is the stellar views from the rooftop bar, Westlight. Anyone is welcome here; but those in the know reserve the best tables that have front-row seats of sparkling Manhattan at sunset. Upstairs at Westlight, a separate, open-air enclave above Westlight, has unobstructed, 180 degree views of the city and is available to book for special occasions.
I'm in a deluxe corner suite with a wrap-around balcony, which has similarly breathtaking views of Manhattan from a few decks below Westlight, with chairs, daybeds and privacy from which to enjoy them. The suite's windows are floor to ceiling, so you can soak up those views from the bedroom, the bathroom or the lounge. The suite itself is modern and stylish, with mod cons such as electronically operated curtains and easily operated light switches, including, miraculously "all off" or "all on" switches.
The bathroom has a rainshower, bathtub, l'Occitane products and big fluffy towels. In the lounge there is enough seating for three, plus a full mini bar stocked with local snacks and beverages. A coffee pod machine has coffee supplied by Brooklyn Roasting Company.
Cavernous and atmospheric, Leuca is the high-end southern Italian restaurant by chef Andrew Carmellini. It includes a casual bar and fun-but-formal dining. Memorable dishes include a creamy sheep's ricotta with crispy fried basil leaves, garlic and honey; delicately cooked octopus swimming in oil and parsley with a chilli kick, and green ravioli with a milky burrata centre on a bed of red sauce.
At the other end of the scale Du's Donuts serves New England style cake doughnuts in unusual flavours such as brown butter key lime and oatmeal chai. Mister Dips offers Shake Shack style burgers and, like the name suggests, colourful soft-serve creations so artfully prepared they have their own Instagram account (@eatmisterdips) .
You don't have to wander far to find things to do and see here, but Brooklyn is a big neighbourhood and a set of wheels can help. The hotel provides Shinola bikes to guests free of charge, which are a great cruising bike for stints across the Brooklyn Bridge and to Prospect Park. I'm not sure my ride to Coney Island was best served on bicycle; however if you get a sore posterior, you can always take your wheels on the subway.
Stylishly casual base from which to experience hip Williamsburg, with some of the best views New York has to offer.
111 N. 12th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249; thewilliamvale.com
The wrap-around balcony and floor to ceiling windows made it hard to tear yourself away from those views, at any time of day.
The wardrobe in the rooms was very narrow leaving very little space to store your luggage, which is fine if you're unpacking everything but not if you're here for a short stay.
The writer was a guest of the William Vale