After a spate of luxury hotel openings in Brooklyn’s hippest neighborhood, Penny Williamsburg, which had its soft-opening in August 2022, is putting the local art scene back in the spotlight while also pioneering a One-of-a-kind hybrid concept that sees guests and performers coexist.
The clue is in the name. Penny Williamsburg sits on a low-key block in what remains Brooklyn’s busiest and most gentrifying neighborhood, and that relative quiet is a good thing in an area that never sleeps but still seems up for 7 a.m. yoga.
The main strip Bedford Avenue is a few minutes walk in the opposite direction, with all the restaurants, shops and brunch spots your hipster heart could desire. If Manhattan calls you, take the L train from the Lorimer Street or Bedford Avenue subway stations, both five minutes from the hotel, and you’ll be on 14th Street just eight minutes later.
It could be argued that Williamsburg’s reputation for street art has been overlooked by the luxury hotel offerings that have sprung up in recent years. Not so in Penny. It may be the brainchild of the Sydell Group, known for London’s NoMad and The Ned hotels, but this boutique offering is taking local art to the next level – pioneering a concept to house both hotel guests and graduate students. (on different floors) from the prestigious liberal arts school, Bard College.
To that end, the entire building is packed with pieces by local artists. The ground floor is a gallery of work and there are installations by the Japanese ceramicist Yuko Nishikawa. While a collaboration with local community non-profits, LAND Gallery and Pure Vision Arts, who work with artists struggling with developmental disabilities, receives $1 from each guest booking. A special mention must go to the banner hanging outside Penny’s front door by Bard grad Michelle Devereux: a portrait of the hotel’s canine muse, described as “a little dog with a big personality.”
It’s a bit like staying in a modern and clean apartment block in Penny… “just like home, no chores or spam” as the website says. The 118 rooms (Queen, Supreme Queen, or Suite) have sleek white walls, black surfaces, and hardwood floors, softened by cloudy robes from trendy bedding brand Parachute, and kitchenettes, complete with a handy sink, fridge, microwave and kettle. Tea and coffee must be delivered to your room, disconcertingly, and a cork notice board (slightly reminiscent of my student room) is adorned with bar and restaurant recommendations, as well as reminders to leave before 11am. am and instructions on how to use the blackout blinds. The wall of plants on the hotel’s façade is brought indoors, with potted houseplants adding to that ‘homey’ feeling; even better, it’s someone else’s job to keep them alive.
food and drink
Scheduled to open in April 2023, Penny’s 11th floor rooftop will be the icing on the cake. Still under construction at time of visit, I’m told there will be a jungle-inspired lounge and restaurant with private terraces, indoor and outdoor event spaces, and a DJ booth—live music, performances, and entertainment are planned. parties. The hope is that guests and locals alike will come together to enjoy cocktails from Leo Robitschek, NoMad’s award-winning bar manager, and a casual food menu, while taking in sweeping views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. For now, a courtyard on the ground floor acts as a space for guests to work and socialize. And there are nearby Williamsburg institutions offering everything from ramen to dumplings. Try the modest Best Pizza, for a classic New York slice that a local friend finds so delicious he’s been known to keep one in his luggage when he travels. Local beer is a must at Talea, a brewery and taproom founded by a woman.
Don’t expect a gym or spa here, but pack your cycling shorts and borrow Penny’s free bikes for a new (and free) way to explore Brooklyn and Manhattan, where a gorgeous waterfront greenway lets you ride your bike for 50 kilometers around the island. , before landing back at the hotel to stretch out on the in-room yoga mat and shower with your own branded toiletries. Needless to say, given Penny’s ‘muse’, pets stay free here – up to two per room, cats and dogs only, and only those under 34kg. I’m sorry, Beethoven.
Shop, eat, drink, brunch in a neighborhood where gleaming Glossier, Everlane, and the Apple Store now rub shoulders with original Williamsburg boutiques like cult jewelry brand Catbird, ID clothing, and Brooklyn fleas (April to October).
Take a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery, then blow away the cobwebs with a stroll along the boardwalk at Domino Park, a former sugar refinery turned 5-acre public space. There is bowling at Brooklyn Bowl and Gutter. And don’t forget to explore Brooklyn’s other up-and-coming (some would say up-and-coming) areas, from Bushwick to Greenpoint, accessible via the East River Ferry, a fun and different way to take in the Manhattan skyline.
Being a quiet, homey space in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Williamsburg.
Rooms start from $200 per night. penny-hotel.com