Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood is one of New York City’s hippest neighborhoods. It’s a culturally diverse area known for its restaurants, hotels, artisanal shops and culture.
“Williamsburg is a community full of artisanal businesses offering everything from coffee to chocolate to wallpaper,” says Jonathan Dreszer of Devoción roaster and café. “It’s a very diverse community of makers. This makes it an incredibly unique and creative part of town which is why it’s become such an important and sought-after place.”
Add in proximity to Manhattan and everything New York City has to offer and Williamsburg is the ideal place for a New York meeting or event.
Where to Stay
The William Vale offers 183 contemporary luxury guest rooms, including five suites that offer views of Manhattan and the East River. The hotel has 15,197 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event and meeting options.
Award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini operates Leuca, a southern Italian restaurant, and Westlight, a rooftop bar with 360-degree views of New York. For casual fare, Mister Dips is a retro-fitted 1974 airstream serving burgers, fries and dairy dips. The William Vale opened in the fall of 2016 and also has retail space, a workout facility and the longest outdoor pool in Brooklyn.
“The unique combination of traditional and creative outdoor spaces really differentiates us in the area,” says Sebastien Maingourd, general manager. “The hotel has two boardrooms and two conference rooms, as well as a ballroom. We can comfortably accommodate up to 300 attendees. The William Vale is truly an ideal option for everything from corporate meetings to social galas.”
Maingourd says business travelers are a key focus group for the hotel, and that the staff aims to help business travelers get the most out of Brooklyn. “The William Vale is proud of its Brooklyn location and the rich history the area has to offer,” he says. “We have cultural events at the property to highlight the local artists and businesses, and our concierge provides great insight into the plethora of upscale restaurants, cafes, nightlife, attractions and museums in our area. Our goal is to make sure every guest gets to experience as much of what Brooklyn has to offer as time allows.”
The Williamsburg Hotel, which opened in January 2017 in a former scrap metal yard, draws inspiration from its namesake neighborhood, with an industrial façade and a brick, glass and Corten steel exterior. A grand ballroom with 30-foot ceilings accommodates up to 400 people for events, galas and more.
“Every guest room has floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the East River,” says Rebecca Tan, spokeswoman. She adds that guest rooms vary from a standard room with terraces and egg hammocks to railroad suites. The hotel also offers programming such as afternoon tea and a jazz brunch.
Located just a few blocks from the Williamsburg waterfront, Wythe Hotel is an eight-story hotel located in a 1901 building that has been converted into a 70-room hotel with modern amenities while maintaining the building’s industrial character. Classic architectural details that have been preserved include original pine beams, masonry, arched windows and cast-iron columns.
Brooklyn restaurateur Andrew Tarlow manages the hotel’s restaurants, including Reynard on the ground floor featuring market-driven fare and seasonal cocktails. The Ides is a bar on the sixth floor with a terrace and views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Meeting spaces include a main event hall, a private dining room and a 60-seat screening room and bar.
Where to Eat
Rider is a contemporary American bistro that serves “sophisticated, approachable cuisine,” says Patrick Connolly, chef and owner.
“I take my cues and inspiration from what’s in season, and my technique is influenced by French and Italian culinary traditions with a bit of an Asian flair,” Connolly says. “The atmosphere is warm, welcoming and convivial, and the restaurant manages to be both a neighborhood go-to for locals and a destination eatery for visitors.”
In addition to its dining space and bar, Rider has an intimate upstairs dining room for about 30 guests. Larger meetings and events can be held at National Sawdust, an industrial-barn concept space housed in a connected building with a two-story ceiling that accommodates up to 160 guests and serves a concession menu managed by Rider.
“The upstairs dining room, the full restaurant and National Sawdust can each be reserved for private events and Rider’s full dinner and bar menus are available for catering in-house events,” Connolly says.
He adds that Williamsburg itself has influenced Rider. “The vibe in Williamsburg is definitely unique from the rest of New York City,” Connolly says. “It’s hard to describe, but it makes its way into the way we operate at Rider.” One influence he notes is not stressing certain traditional serving techniques, such as which side to serve from or presenting wine in a formal way. “Instead, I encourage them to connect with our guests on a personal level,” Connolly said.
Dinner and a movie is a common date night, but it also can be the setting for a meeting in Williamsburg. Nitehawk Cinema is the first dine-in theater in New York, offering full food and beverage service with first-run films and special programming.
“The diversity of our offerings is what makes Nitehawk special,” says owner Matthew Viragh. “Our team has such a wide array of interests and it comes through in the programming and menu development, which is probably a direct reflection of our place, Brooklyn. We literally have something for everyone—from a casual cinephile to 35-mm purists and film buffs, or handcrafted cocktails to a Miller High Life. We cater to a wide range of tastes, but our main focus is being an exceptional resource for our neighborhood.”
The menu includes hibachi shrimp, short rib tacos, sliders, burgers, cheese plates, small plates, salads and desserts, including soft serve ice cream, key lime parfait and a strawberry margarita float. The restaurant also offers beer, wine and liquor. Of course you can also get popcorn, in a variety of flavors.
In the downstairs bar Lo-Res, full-service food and drink are available as well as outdoor seating during the warmer months. Theaters can be rented for private events and meetings. Theater sizes vary and host 34-92, which offers various price points.
Egg Shop opened its first location in the SoHo section of Manhattan, and its second location in Williamsburg in 2017.
Inspired by a love of the egg sandwich, husband and wife Sarah Schneider and Demetri Makoulis, along with chef Nick Korbee, designed a menu the celebrates the egg’s versatility. Egg Shop serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and includes everything from egg sandwiches that pair eggs with such delights as bacon, smoked salmon, avocado, kale and spicy fried chicken. Main courses include crab toast Benedict and a burger with a sunny side up egg.
For events, Egg Shop’s bar can accommodate up 64 people seated. “It’s a beautiful modern space with playful colorful touches,” says Schneider. “We can cater menus to clients’ needs, and food does not have to be egg focused for specific events.”
She adds that Williamsburg itself helps make Egg Shop special. “Williamsburg is one of the most vibrant cities in the country,” Schneider says. “It has the soul of artists and creatives mixed in with local Polish and Italian families that migrated here years ago. It’s a melting pot of diversity and a place people come to learn, shop, eat and take in the vibrant city views.”
What To Do
Wine lovers in New York City don’t need to take a long drive for a winery—they can simply ride the subway.
Rooftop Reds is the first commercially viable urban rooftop winery in New York City. It was founded in 2015 by Devin Shomaker, Chris Papalia and Thomas Shomaker. Devin Shomaker, the managing partner, got the idea after going to wine school in the Finger Lakes region. He had previously lived in New York City and wanted to return to the Big Apple.
“Nobody had applied vineyards to the urban agricultural space,” he says. “I think we should be in more cities and reducing our environmental effect and making them more livable spaces, and I think Rooftop Reds accomplishes all of that.”
Rooftop Reds’ mission is to share New York wines with a wine tasting room offering selections from nine wineries.
“People can make a simple reservation, come up to the rooftop, do a tasting with us and enjoy a glass or a bottle with the group,” Devin Shomaker says.
Rooftop Reds is open spring through fall, and hosts events such as movie nights, yoga and “Ribs and Rose” nights. New this year was a harvest dinner, featuring fivecourse high-end chef-designed dinners. The real appeal is enjoying wine and taking in the sights from the rooftop.
“It’s an amazing view of Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan alike,” Devin Shomaker says. “You see all the major skyscrapers in Manhattan, including the Empire State and 1 World Trade. You also get the burgeoning downtown Brooklyn skyline that’s just exploding.”
Coffee lovers looking for a place to take a break while in Brooklyn will want to visit Devoción, which bills itself as the first farmto-table coffee roaster. “That means it is the freshest cup available,” says Dreszer, director of retail and marketing. “This sets us apart from everyone else as the competition is roasting 6- to 12-month-old beans while we do it in 10 days.”
Dreszer adds that Devoción roasts beans in its Brooklyn facility. “Devoción is a boutique Colombian coffee company which sources its organic beans directly from some 400 small farms, with which it maintains close relationships,” he says. “These include micro-lot farms in the midst of naturally forested, often remote and dangerous guerrillacontrolled areas which yield beans with the purest, strongest natural coffee flavors and are rarely available to any other company. Devoción also offers spaces for business presentations and forums, and larger events such as wedding and receptions.
Visit Hasidim leads tours of Williamsburg’s Hasidic neighborhood, with a walk-through of the major streets and shops of the area, led by Frieda Vizel and Yoelish Steinberg, both of whom are former Hasidim.
“Hasidic Williamsburg is a colorful, historically rich enclave,” Vizel says. “The goal of the tour is to get a little deeper into this world by learning about the unique Hasidic culture, life cycle and gender roles—always with respect and sensitivity.” She says that Hasidic South Williamsburg brushes up with “hip and trendy” North Williamsburg. “Yet if you follow Bedford Avenue from one part of town to another, you’d think the two Williamsburgs don’t know of each other’s existence. Many native North Williamsburgers are surprised to find out that the Hasidic population is estimated to be over 100,000. In part, that’s because Hasidim like to keep to themselves and don’t open themselves up to tourism. Mine is the only tour that focuses on this community, and we pride ourselves on keeping it small, intimate and respectful.”