The days are gone when New York was synonymous with Manhattan alone. Brooklyn is in the midst of an explosion of new luxury condos, upscale boutique hotels and trendy restaurants. The borough that was once dismissed as New York’s dullest and grittiest has morphed into a hip neighbourhood that attracts both New Yorkers and visitors in unprecedented numbers.
During my most recent visit to New York City, I set aside a couple of day to explore the borough that was once not considered worthy a spot in the itinerary. I was particularly curious on the latest addition to the Williamsburg skyline – the William Vale.
Floating above the otherwise low-slung Williamsburg neighbourhood, nestled on the cusp of 12th Street and Wythe Avenue, lies this brand new hotel, filled to the brim with picture-postcard NYC moments. Opened in September 2016, the 260,000-square-foot William Vale stands 250 feet and 22 stories tall as it lords over its neighbours. The hotel boasts 183 luxurious rooms along with impressive resort-class amenities, including NYC’s longest outdoor hotel pool, an elevated 5,000 square-foot promenade and a rooftop bar with astounding views of Manhattan.
Upon entering through the sliding glass lobby doors it quickly became apparent that the hotel is tastefully designed with the artistic aesthetic in mind. The interior design is contemporary, deriving its beauty from its simplicity rather than kitschy and over-the-top furnishings.
The hotel’s carefully curated interiors feature an elegant palate of finishes, including hardwood floors, a modern colour palette and tastefully selected local art. The ceiling of the white marble lobby is soaring high, and one of its walls is adorned with a large-scale three-dimensional sculpture, created by Brooklyn-based artist Marela Zacarias.
Rooms & Suites
The William Vale houses a total of 183 luxurious rooms, 25 of which are suites. Each room comes with a private balcony that offers skyline views of Manhattan’s gleaming building towers and Brooklyn’s hip streetscape.
I stayed in a King with Balcony, which was compact but well-appointed, featuring hardwood floors and modern furnishing. Clean lines of custom metalwork details and a mix of soft neutral textures provided visual interest whilst an earthly palette dominated the rest of the room, evoking a feeling of youthness.
My room was outfitted with a king bed, positioned on an elegant floating bed frame. The 12-inch top fitted mattress and comfortable Frette linens further heightened the luxurious ambience. Storage space was provided in form of a mirrored wardrobe, and an in-room refrigerator was stocked daily with complimentary bottled water.
The 9 ft. floor-to-ceiling balcony glass windows induced an outdoor feel and flooded the interior with natural light by day, whilst offering panoramic glittering views by night. A sofa, neatly positioned by the glass walls, provided a quiet oasis to watch the East River ferries drift by, while taking in both sunsets and sunrises.
Large sliding glass doors open to the private balconies, fully furnished with comfortable chairs and a small coffee table. The suites offer 309 sq. ft. wraparound balconies with sunbeds, and the two-floor duplex suite, aptly named the Vale Garden Residence, features a 1,632 sq. ft. furnished patio with an open air Jacuzzi.
Facilities & Amenities
Atop a slab of the William Vale lies the 15,000 sq. feet Vale Park. With its meticulously landscaped lush green spaces, rolling hills and full view of the Manhattan skyline as well as the Williamsburg waterfront, the publicly accessible park offers guests respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The elevated promenade is also home to a retrofitted 1974 Airstream trailer, dubbed Mister Dips. The burger and ice cream stand, run by Andrew Carmellini serves up burgers, waffles fries and ice cream.
On the 3rd floor of the property lies the 5,000 sq. ft. open-air Vale Terrace, fitting a seasonal swimming deck with a 60 feet long swimming pool, making it the longest hotel pool in New York City. Other facilities and amenities include 20,000+ square feet of event space, including a banquet hall, ballroom and salon, conference rooms, meeting rooms and outdoor spaces.
Perched 22 floors high lies a sprawling rooftop bar, Westlight, where guests can enjoy a selection of signature cocktails, rare spirits and delectable nibbles. The venue offers an indoor lounge fitted with glass walls, as well as an outer wraparound deck.
Westlight attracts travelers and locals alike and has become a darling among the guests, who are lining up to get a taste of the Instagram-worthy skyline views of Manhattan and the surrounding neighbourhood. After all, the best view of New York is from above and afar, a view that is often beyond our seeing as we stand amid the looming skyscrapers in the middle of Manhattan.
About an hour before the sun was to set, I ascended to the 22 floor along with my photography gear to see if Westlight would live up to the hype. Plenty of hotels in New York City boast about their rooftop terraces, but I can honestly say that the exquisite views from the wraparound terrace at the top of the property were completely unrivaled.
I wandered over to the edge and grabbed one of the yellow observation binoculars mounted around the bar. As I peered through them I could see in all directions – unobstructed views of Brooklyn, parts of Queens, a slice of Long Island, not to mention the East River and Manhattan. For a photography buff like me, the 360-degree vantage point was golden, as it allowed me to capture the dramatic skyline from different angles.
To the west, the sun was descending into the Manhattan landscape as a few lonely clouds were slowly tumbling. Directly below me stood the rooftops of dozens of properties in the otherwise low-slung neighbourhood, appearing as minuscule ants in comparison. As the stars began to twinkle in the darkening night sky I realized I had lost time of how long I marveled at the architectural wonders of the city, so I quickly whisked up my gear and descended to the 18th floor to befriend my comfy bed.
Nestled just off Wythe Avenue, the William Vale is situated in Williamsburg – Brooklyn’s most coveted area. The neighbourhood offers everything from low key to Michelin-starred restaurants as well as trendy rooftop bars and a thriving entertainment scene. Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg’s main thoroughfare, down the street from the William Vale, and attracts visitors with its eclectic boutique shops, local vintage stores and bohemian flea markets.
The hotel’s location along the waterfront of the East River places it mere blocks from the seven-acre East River State Park; a favourite spot for recreation and relaxation among locals. During the evening, I took a stroll along the promenade whilst being wowed by the unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline. I continued to wander further south for about 15-minutes and was met by the beautiful Williamsburg Bridge that connects Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Further away, but still within easy reach lies Manhattan. Commuting to the island is a breeze, as the proximity to the waterfront gives quick and easy access to the East River Ferry (Station N. 6th St. / North Williamsburg). The nearest subway station, Bedford Avenue, is an 7-minute walk, and the L train will take you to Union Square in less than 7 minutes. The L subway line runs straight across Manhattan along 14th Street, and crosses vibrant neighbourhood such as Chelsea and East Village.
The William Vale – a Destination in Itself
The William Vale is as much a lifestyle as it is a hotel, it’s a destination in itself. An ultimate urban retreat that offers visitors an escape from the fast-paced and hectic Manhattan.
For a hotel that is new to the hospitality scene, I was pleasantly surprised of what the property had to offer. The impressive array of amenities, in particular the largest hotel pool in New York City and a rooftop bar with a vantage points that boasts the best panoramic views of Manhattan, leave nothing to be desired. The William Vale is a good choice for those in search of a place to unwind, yet still wish to stay in the epicentre of the energetic and artistic Williamsburg.
Take a chance and venture out from the conventional hotel establishments in Manhattan, to instead experience what once was a downbeat borough at the end of Long Island, now emerging as the trendiest neighbourhood in New York.