24-Hour Room Service: Nu Hotel, Brooklyn, New York

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The Independent Travel

Until recently, there hasn't been much variety for visitors wanting to stay the night in Brooklyn. In spite of the fact that hip New Yorkers and savvy tourists have been flocking to the borough for several years now, drawn in part by its reputation as a place where the budget-conscious can get their money's worth, the accommodation on offer has been limited to twee B&Bs, cheap hostels or homogenised chains.

In the last couple of years, however, things have started to change. Nu Hotel is part of a spattering of new boutique hotels offering style-conscious visitors an affordable place to stay in this cool neighbourhood.

The crucial attraction of Brooklyn is space. For a seasoned Manhattan tourist, emerging from the subway on the other side of the East River is quite astonishing. The skyline opens up, the scale and proportions of the buildings feel entirely different to the soaring structures of Manhattan, and there is a tangible change of pace: bicycles pop up everywhere. All this, plus fantastic views across to the island.

While hotel rates in Manhattan continue to rise at the same pace as the square-footage of their rooms declines, Brooklyn – and now Nu Hotel – offers more space and better value for your weakened pound.

Nu Hotel, like most Brooklynites, is very proud of its location, and it shows. At the front desk you can buy Brooklyn Industries clothing (if you can't quite make it to the branch directly opposite the hotel) and Eau de Brooklyn soaps and perfumes. It all demonstrates a sense of community that is part of the place's appeal


Nu Hotel, 85 Smith Street, Brooklyn, New York, US (001 718 852 8585; nuhotelbrooklyn.com) – on the corner of Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue, two of the liveliest streets in the area, lined with independent shops, lively bars and good restaurants.

Nu is a great spot for a Brooklyn beginner. It lies at the intersection of three neighbourhoods –Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens – which combine to form one of New York's many geographical abbreviations: BoCoCa.

Brooklyn is vast and full of potential for exploration, but should you feel tempted by those towering views across the river, the journey from the hotel is quick and easy. The F train is a two-block walk down Smith Street, and will take you to the Lower East Side in 10 minutes. Or you could take the subway to the Brooklyn Bridge and walk across the river, taking in the views as you dodge cyclists and skateboarders.

Time from international airport: only half-an-hour from from JFK , which means a cab costs only around $40/£29 –unlike Manhattan-bound travellers, you need not pay for bridge or tunnel tolls.

The domestic airport, La Guardia, is even closer – but be warned that New York's other airport, Newark, is on the wrong side of town.


The decor is fairly macho, with dimly lit corridors, industrial-looking lamps overhanging the lobby's seating area, and pared-down design elements in the rooms. But there are lively touches, too.

The hallways are dotted with objects found in the local area – a 1940s mannequin here, an antique clock there. There are prints by the Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat on the walls. In the lobby, huge metallic letters salvaged from the signage of an old oil depot spell out "YES".

As you come out of the lifts on each floor, you are welcomed by a quote from a famous son or daughter of Brooklyn, stencilled on the wall; our floor displayed the words of Spike Lee: "People didn't really believe me when I told them I was going to be a film-maker".

Panoramic windows allowed light to flood into my room, the prevailing whiteness of which was broken up with graphic prints and vividly coloured cushions.

An audio-visual system far too complex for me to understand sat discreetly in the corner. There were cosy touches, too, with sheepskin rugs, dark-brown suede lampshades, cork flooring and organic bedding.

The bathroom was roomy and smart, with his'n'hers sinks, mirrored walls and a rain-head shower. One wall doubled as a chalkboard, for guests to write messages to housekeeping staff.

Freebies: you'll find Aveda products in the bathroom, and a self-service breakfast in the lobby, complete with freshly brewed Starbucks coffee and The New York Times.

Keeping in touch: this is America's commercial hub, so there are all the requisite communication tools, including a "business nook" in the main lobby, Wi-Fi access in the rooms, plus flatscreen TVs and direct-dial phones.


Doubles from $206 (£147) per night, including breakfast.

I'm not paying that: Escape Guesthouse (001 718 243 1171; escapeguesthouse.com) is a homely B&B in a Boerum Hill brownstone. Double rooms start at $150 (£107), including breakfast.