After a series of luxury hotel openings in Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhood, Penny Williamsburg – which has a soft opening in August 2022 – shines back on the local art scene, pioneering a first-of-its-kind hybrid concept which guests see. and artists there side by side.
Where is he?
The clue is in the name. Penny Williamsburg is on a low-key block in Brooklyn’s most enduring and gentrified neighborhood—and the relative quiet is a good thing in an area that never sleeps but still seems to be awake for yoga at 7am.
Main strip Bedford Avenue is a few minutes stroll in the opposite direction, with all the restaurants, shops and brunch spots your hipster heart could desire. If Manhattan calls, take the L train from the Lorimer Street or Bedford Avenue subway stations—both five minutes from the hotel—and you’ll be at 14th Street just 8 minutes later.
You could argue that Williamsburg’s reputation for street art has been eclipsed by the luxury hotel offerings that have sprung up in recent years. Not so with 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 ‘hotel guests and for graduate students (on different floors) from the liberal arts graduate school, Bard College.
To that end, the entire building is chockablock with pieces from local artists. The ground floor is a work gallery with installations by Japanese sculptor Yuko Nishikawa. While collaborating with local non-profit community organizations – LAND Gallery and Pure Vision Arts, which works with artists struggling with developmental disabilities – receives $1 from each guest booking. Special mention must go to the banner hanging outside Penny’s front door by Municipality graduate 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 clean modern apartment block at Penny’s… “like home, no work or junk” as the website puts it. The 118 rooms – Queen, Queen, Supreme or Suite – have sleek white walls, black surfaces and hardwood floors, softened by cloud robes from trendy brand Parachute and a kitchen, with a handy sink, fridge, microwave and kettle. Tea and coffee must be delivered to your room, mysteriously, and a cork noticeboard (a bit reminiscent of my student bedroom) is pinned with bar and restaurant recommendations, as well as reminders to check out by 11am and instructions for use the black blinds. The plant wall at the front of the hotel is carried inside, and potted houseplants add that ‘native’ feel – even better, it’s someone else’s job to keep them alive.
Food & drink
Due to open in April 2023, Penny’s 11th floor rooftop is set to be the icing on the cake. Still under construction at the time of the 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 parties are planned. Guests and locals are expected to gather to enjoy cocktails by award-winning NoMad bar director Leo Robitschek and a casual menu, while taking in panoramic views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. For now, a courtyard on the ground floor serves as a space for guests to work and socialize. And nearby Williamsburg institutions offer everything from ramen to dumplings. Try Unanimously Best Pizza, for a classic New York slice that a local friend thinks is so delicious he’s been known to pack one in his luggage when he travels. Local beer from Talea, a brewery and taproom founded by women, is a must.
Don’t expect a gym or spa here, but pack your cycling shorts and borrow your free Penny bikes as a fresh (and free) way to explore Brooklyn and Manhattan – where a stunning waterfront greenway lets you cycle for 31 miles around the island. , before landing back at the hotel for a stretch on your in-room yoga mat and a shower using its own branded toiletries. Needless to say as Penny’s ‘muse’ says, pets stay here for free: up to two per room, only dogs and cats and only those under 34kg. I’m sorry Beethoven.
Shop, eat, drink, brunch in a neighborhood that features shiny branches of Glossier, Everlane and the Apple store alongside original Williamsburg boutiques, like cult jewelry brand Catbird, ID clothing and the Brooklyn Flea market (April-October).
Take a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery and then beat the grubs off with a waterfront stroll in 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) neighborhoods, from Bushwick to Greenpoint – accessible via the East River ferry, a fun and different way to take in the Manhattan skyline.
It is best for…
To be a relaxed, homely space in the midst of Williamsburg’s lively competition.
Rooms start at $200 per night. penny-hotel.com