East of the river in New York City

Room service: Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn

The website of the Wythe claims that the hotel "has rooms for artists, friends, brewmasters, musicians, concertgoers, mothers, brothers, grandmothers, bowlers, interns, twins, engineers, chefs and viogniers". I'm not a grape – I think they mean "vignerons" (winegrowers) – but I do have a brother, and a friend, so I guess I am just about qualified to stay there.

The twee slogan reveals the new hotel's location – Williamsburg, traditionally Brooklyn's hipster heartland – but also does it a disservice. I had never crossed the East River during several trips to Manhattan, assuming I wasn't hip enough. But the place has grown up, and the kid colonisers who made it cool have fled on their fixies elsewhere.

This chic gentrification is relentless, as young developers with beards and liberal arts degrees invest big in condos, stores and restaurants. The Wythe Hotel, in North Williamsburg, arguably seals the sell-out, but also the neighbourhood's rising status as a worthwhile tourist diversion. It opened in May after the £20m transformation of a 100-year-old former cooperage: hop smells still waft from the Brooklyn Brewery across the street. The Wythe is partly the work of Andrew Tarlow, who's credited with kick-starting the change here with his South Williamsburg restaurants Diner and Marlow & Sons.

I started the night on the sixth of eight floors, where Ides, a low-lit, low-key bar, opens on to a roof terrace and where we braved the first drops of a downpour to gawp at King Kong-style views of Manhattan. Inside, we joined curious locals and not exclusively trendy visitors to sip Dark and Stormy cocktails (rum, bitters, lime, ginger beer) as the skyline disappeared behind black clouds.

On the ground floor, it was dinner at Reynards, the least hotel-y hotel restaurant I've eaten in: it's creating a critical buzz thanks to its modern, Southern-inspired food, cooked over a wood fire that makes the stripped-back dining room glow. My lamb shoulder with corn, okra and sweet peppers was as spectacular as the view up top.

A modest reception desk leads to a peaceful library with sky-high windows. Lifts serve a tiny basement gym and 72 rooms. That's it: no spa, no room service, no frills. The decor is industrial-luxe, the artwork urban, but the poured concrete somehow offers warmth, as do the staff.

Sleek and modern, but with smooth edges, the Wythe, like Williamsburg, is more inclusive than I'd imagined, whether or not you cultivate a moustache – or know your grape from your winegrower. It's also a symbol of an evolving, maturing Brooklyn, worth the short hop from Manhattan, for its cocktails alone.


North Williamsburg, over the East River from Manhattan, and five minutes' walk from Bedford Avenue. The Subway station there is just three stops east on the L line from Union Square in the middle of Manhattan and 45 minutes the other way from JFK airport. The avenue itself is a fun strip of second-hand bookstores and coffee shops.

Even closer are the Brooklyn Brewery (tours available); Beacon's Closet, a cavernous vintage clothes shop; and Café Colette for a top brunch, though it would be hard to match Reynards' sausage and egg sandwich, which will stay with me for ever, not least around the hips.


The storm had cleared by morning to reveal views through the floor-to-ceiling windows of our Manhattan View King room that would probably cost you $1,000 (£625) a night on the island itself, but goes for about $340 (£213) here. A miles-wide belt of skyscrapers centred around the Empire State Building seemed to throw sunlight right back in. My tip: forget the blinds and let the city wake you up.

A king-sized bed lay between the window and the bathroom and there was a high-definition television, an audio jack for guests to link their tunes to the room's speakers and a modestly stocked minibar (but no coffee maker).

Rooms without city views vary in size but not spec, offering Goldie's bath products made in nearby Queen's, heated floors and bare walls, except for one which is brilliantly painted in blue patterns. There are bunk rooms and four-to-six people "band rooms", which you presumably don't need to play drums to occupy, while two of four lofts on the top floors have private terraces.

Travel Essentials

Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, United States (001 718 460 8000;  wythehotel.com).

Double rooms start at $207 (£129), room only

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot