After more than three months of self-isolating in my Brooklyn apartment, I was ready to return to the life of luxury, even if for a short weekend getaway. As travel continued to be a complicated affair, I decided to stay close to home and check into The William Vale hotel located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I craved a pool, sun, and outdoor space. The William Vale hotel offered that and more.
The hotel has been on my radar even before it opened. I often passed by the construction site on my way home from shopping for Polish food in Greenpoint and marveled at the super cool and futuristic design. And when I found out it was to be a boutique hotel, I could not wait for it to be completed. I am ashamed to say that it took me almost four years and a global pandemic to finally experience the hotel for myself. Ayayay!
Fun fact – the hotel is named after the 19th century Brooklynite, William Vail, who once owner the land it stands on.
The hotel is located on N 12th St between Wythe and Berry in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York’s hippest hood (and the birth place of hipsters!). The hotel’s positioning and status as one of the few buildings of its height outside of Manhattan, offers guests unparalleled views of almost the entire East Manhattan skyline. We were even able to see Fourth of July fireworks that took place on the west side of Manhattan.
For those unfamiliar with the area and Brooklyn in general, the William Vale is surrounded by fantastic restaurants, cool bars, galleries and plenty of fun shops. It is also a short and fab ferry ride away from Manhattan and a quick 30-minute drive from the New York airports.
VIBE AND DESIGN
When I first saw the finished structure of the hotel, I thought an alien ship landed and parked its four-legged ship right next to McCarren Park. It looked super cool and so very different from the mostly low-rise warehouse buildings of Williamsburg. Today, the futuristic William Vale hotel, designed by Brooklyn architects Albo Liberis, still towers above anything else nearby capitalizing on the views and setting high expectations for the rest of the hotel.
While the alien-like structure stands out from the neighborhood on the outside, the hotel’s interior pays homage to the neighborhood’s artsy past and feel. The lobby lounge area welcomes guests with an arresting installation made from mangled car bumpers. The elevators sport neon signs – “Come live with me” in one and “Alone Together” (somehow so a’propos during the pandemic) in another. Even the rooms fit right in with the neighborhood’s artsy vibe and have colorful eye-catching eye art offset. The whole feel of the hotel is super cool, yet homey and comfortable. Yes, I will “come live with you” William Vale hotel.
BED AND BATH
William Vale offers a total of 183 rooms, including 25 suites, all with generous balconies overlooking Manhattan. The standard rooms are all the same size and design. And while they are on the small side, the modern design, colorful art, and floor to ceiling windows more than make up for the size.
The pièce de résistance of each room is the huge private balcony with chairs and a table for eating. I had huge plans for my stay – hang out in the McCarren park, explore the local bars and restaurants, do some shopping. None of those happened, as the heavenly balcony beckoned me whenever I was not at the pool. We ended up spending most of our non-pool time sitting on the wicked comfortable balcony chairs, reading, staring at the Manhattan skyline, and enjoying perfectly chilled rose. It was the perfect staycation getaway.
While all of the rooms offer some sort of a view of Manhattan, if you want the full-frontal skyline – go for one of the Gotham rooms or a Corner Suite with the fab wraparound balcony.
RESTAURANTS + BARS
In “normal times,” William Vale has something for everyone and every mood. On the concourse level, you will find Wylie Dufresne’s Du’s Donuts serving New England-style cake donuts and crullers, including gluten free donuts. The donuts are delish and offer traditional flavors with a twist. Note that Du’s Donuts is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Head to William Vale’s 15,000 square foot public outdoor park, Vale Park, and you will find a retrofitted 1974 Airstream trailer, home to Mister Dips. This seasonal venue serves griddled burgers, waffle fries, and playful, seasonal dairy dips. Unfortunately, it was also closed during my stay due to COVID-19 rules. I am looking forward to hitting it up for some waffle fries next Summer.
In the mood for something more high end? Head to the hotel’s modern Italian restaurant – Leuca. Led by one of the city’s top Michelin starred chefs Andrew Carmellini (of Locanda Verde’s fame), Leuca will delight your taste buds with its house-made pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and rustic dishes. Must try here is the Ernie Pizza with sausage, pistachio, and fennel pollen. Who knew I would love pistachio on my pizza!
Finally, those looking for some nighttime glamor should head to Westlight, the hotel’s hugely popular rooftop bar on the 22nd floor. Besides offering incredible views, the bar serves tasty drinks and small plates curated by Carmellini’s kitchen. Must-tries are the lobster summer rolls and the duck carnitas tacos. Do make a reservation well in advance of your visit, or you will risk walking away with just a glimpse of the stunning views.
SPA, POOL AND GYM
William Vale boasts the largest hotel outdoor pool in New York. The heated pool is set on the 5,000 square foot Vale Terrace with views of the Manhattan skyline and the William Vale building itself. The pool is also kid-friendly with constant lifeguard supervision and a Roman steps entrance. The deck comes outfitted with plenty of sun loungers, cabanas, and parasols. Understandably, the pool area is THE place to be in the Summer months.
Overlooking the pool area is the hotel’s gym. I loved that it is not stuck in the basement like an afterthought, as many hotels do. The gym offers plenty of workout machines, benches, and free weights, as well as plenty of space to enjoy your workout. The William Vale gym is also well-stocked with complimentary water bottles and eucalyptus-infused towels. It’s the small things that count!
William Vale does not currently have a spa.
William Vale works for everyone – it offers rollaway beds and interconnecting rooms for families; the common areas are wheelchair-accessible and some rooms are ADA-compliant; and the hotel is pet friendly – pets up to 50 lbs (23kgs) are welcome in all areas of the hotel.
I would not recommend the hotel for the first time in New York as you obviously want to be in Manhattan on your first NYC trip. But if you have been to the city before, I highly recommend a change in scenery and perspective which a stay at the William Vale will offer.
William Vale was one of the first New York luxury hotels to reopen and took COVID-19 measures very seriously. My stay a week or so after the re-opening left me feeling very safe and confident. Besides the obvious measures of cleanliness, the hotel is also taking the following measures to ensure the safety of its guests and staff:
- Upon arrival, you will be greeted with a table stocked with individually wrapped masks, water bottles and hand sanitizers. During your stay, you will not have to go far to access additional sanitizing stations. You are never more than few steps away from Purell.
- William Vale installed plexi-glass partitions at the front desk.
- Use of elevators is limited to two guests per elevator.
- Daily housekeeping has been suspended for stays less than four nights. You can, of course, request housekeeping. Staff will deliver extra towels, bath products, etc upon request and leave at the door.
- Pool and gym require reservations. The hotel came up with a very effective system of 3-hour slots for the use of the pool. Guests can access the pool only during their reserved slot and are pre-assigned their lounge chairs. Pool staff cleans the pool area thoroughly in between the reserved slots. Masks are required around the pool but not in the pool. I highly recommend you make your pool reservation well in advance of your stay.
- Due to restaurant closures in New York City, William Vale does not offer their typical breakfast at the time. Instead, the hotel set up a “to go” table in the lobby with coffee, teas, juice, granola and cereal. While I understand the need for changes, I found the breakfast offerings extremely limited and wish the hotel would offer more choices. At the time of my stay, the hotel was working on additional solutions for breakfast.
- While some hotels eliminated their in-room mini bars as a COVID measure, William Vale opted to leave their mini bars intact. The cleaning staff disinfects the entire mini bar and its contents in between guests. While I cannot speak as to what is best from the point of view of COVID – mini bar or no mini bar, I appreciated having easy access to a coffee machine as well as drinks and sodas.
PREFERRED PARTNER PROGRAM
William Vale is part of Virtuoso Travel.