July 7, 2022
Though vastly larger than Manhattan in both area and population, in boutique hotel terms Brooklyn is just now arriving at the party. The rapidly gentrifying Manhattan-adjacent neighborhood of Williamsburg, which went from artists' lofts to condo towers in scarcely more than a decade, is home to the highest density of boutique hotels, as well as the highest density of great restaurants, bars, and shops. But it's early days, and travelers are finding Brooklyn more accessible and inviting every year.
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Williamsburg has been a big deal for well over a decade now, it’s true, but from a boutique-hotel perspective this neighborhood is just getting started. And while the Wythe Hotel may not have been the first, it’s the one against which all future Brooklyn boutiques will be measured. Not because it won’t ever be topped, necessarily, but because it’s rare for a hotel to so completely exemplify the character of the neighborhood it calls home.
Here in Williamsburg that means a location between McCarren Park and the gentrifying waterfront, in a 1901-vintage factory building that’s been lovingly (but not too thoroughly) renovated. And in the kitchen, it means a bit of Brooklyn culinary royalty: Jake Leiber and Aiden O’Neal, of the beloved Chez Ma Tante, are the chefs behind Le Crocodile, a neighborhood brasserie serving earnest French fare in a setting inspired by their Parisian and New York favorites.
Leave it to Ace Hotels to find a way to put a novel spin on the idea of a Brooklyn boutique hotel. Ace Hotel Brooklyn finds itself not in Williamsburg but in rapidly evolving Boerum Hill, right at the edge of Downtown Brooklyn, in an arresting new building by Stonehill Taylor. What’s familiar is what’s inside: modernist-inspired industrial-romantic interiors by Roman & Williams, who are on our short list for the world’s most influential boutique-hotel designers.
All Ace hotels strive for affordability, but these aren’t bargain-rack rooms; even the smallest have floor-to-ceiling windows, Smeg fridges, Tivoli radios, and either Music Hall turntables or acoustic guitars by the legendary New York luthier D’Angelico. The furnishings are a unique mix of custom and vintage pieces, and the look, while ever on-brand, is memorably singular.
There are entire American cities with less cultural import than New York’s second borough — yet looking at the number of decent lodging options, you might think crossing the East River were like taking a trip to East Berlin circa 1989. It’s an analogy that, tellingly, would flatter a few Manhattanites and Brooklynites alike, but just to keep things in perspective, Grand Central Station is all of one subway stop away from the seemingly far-flung Box House Hotel.
From the outside, the hotel could easily be mistaken for another warehouse-turned-apartment-building in its Greenpoint neighborhood. The inside is just as true to form. The sunny, high-ceilinged rooms are fitted with large kitchenettes, dishware and all. By New York standards, they could just about pass as full kitchens, with more than enough counter space to sit on a stool and tear into some boxes of take-out. The homey urban décor, from the big pull-out sofas to the warm modern lighting and hardwood floors, all makes as much sense at this converted door factory in its low-slung, revitalized industrial neighborhood as a high-rise hotel makes sense in Midtown. Perhaps the biggest impact of the surrounding real estate, however, is on the price. Put simply, you get more for your money here.
Shoreditch, the East London district that was home to the original Hoxton Hotel, became the hippest neighborhood in town right around the same time Williamsburg became New York’s own capital of cool. So it’s only fitting that the first Hoxton in the United States should set up shop here. The Hoxton, Williamsburg occupies a modern building, but it’s a loving tribute to the neighborhood’s industrial heritage — another attribute Williamsburg shares with Shoreditch.
Here, with plenty of space to work with thanks to the blank slate of a new building, the rooms are a touch larger than those in other Hoxtons — and thanks to the building’s low-lying surroundings, it offers far-ranging views over North Brooklyn and the Manhattan skyline. Floor-to-ceiling windows and king beds bring a touch of luxury, and each room has a selection of books chosen by a different local artist or creative.
In Williamsburg, whose rare high-rise buildings tend towards the nondescript, the William Vale is an immediate eye-catcher. The building, by Albo Liberis, is unmistakable, and with an exterior like that, you expect big things from what’s inside. And, in what has to be considered a leap forward for the Brooklyn hotel scene, the William Vale delivers — Williamsburg’s finally got the modern-luxe boutique hotel it was always destined to have.
Towering as it does 22 floors above North 12th Street, the William Vale is all about the views. Floor-to-ceiling windows are universal, as are balconies, and the rooms’ monochrome backdrop and colorful accents make the most of the plentiful sunlight. Queen rooms are by no means small, suites are downright spacious, and the addition of usable outdoor space is a rare luxury for New York.
More boutique hotel lists in the New York Area:
New York Boutique Hotels
Greenwich Village Boutique Hotels
Soho New York Village Boutique Hotels
Tribeca & Wall St Boutique Hotels
Meatpacking NYC Boutique Hotels
Flatiron NYC Boutique Hotels
Long Island New York Boutique Hotels
Upstate New York Boutique Hotels
View our entire selection of Boutique Hotels in New York City
Many people visiting New York for the first time are shocked with the size of the rooms (smallish). If you need some space and are not looking to book a suite, here are some boutique hotels with larger standard rooms:
Four Seasons Hotel New York Midtown
The Dominick Soho
Conrad New York Midtown Midtown
The St. Regis New York Midtown
Crosby Street Hotel Soho
Park Hyatt New York Midtown
There are plenty of great dining experiences in New York boutique hotels but here are a few recognized by The MICHELIN Guide we recommend:
The New York Edition
The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue
The top-rated boutique hotels in Soho are:
Crosby Street Hotel 19.5/20 Guest Rating
The Mercer 19/20 Guest Rating
Sixty Soho 18/20 Guest Rating
For more information, view our Best Boutique Hotels in Soho.
The top-rated boutique hotels in Midtown are:
The Whitby 19.5/20 Guest Rating
Merrion Row Hotel and Public House 19.5/20 Guest Rating
Andaz 5th Avenue 18.5/20 Guest Rating
For more information, view our Best Boutique Hotels in Midtown.
The closest boutique hotels on Tablet near the Empire State Building are:
Langham Place, New York, Fifth Avenue 19/20 Guest Rating
Andaz 5th Avenue 18.5/20 Guest Rating
The Archer 18.5/20 Guest Rating
Refinery Hotel New York 18.5/20 Guest Rating
The closest boutique hotels on Tablet near Central Park are:
6 Columbus, Central Park 17/20 Guest Rating
The Whitby Hotel 19.5/20 Guest Rating
Park Hyatt New York 18.5/20 Guest Rating
1 Hotel Central Park 19/20 Guest Rating
Westhouse Hotel 17/20 Guest Rating
Tablet Hotels merged with MICHELIN in 2018 and is the hotels component of the MICHELIN Guide. For more information visit our About Tablet section.