The William Vale Hotel

By Terry Trucco

At a glance: Yes, The William Vale Hotel occupies a brute, 21-story glass and concrete tower that looms high over its low-slung neighbors in hipster Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

But don’t be put off by its oddly forbidding appearance. This contemporary newcomer, opened in 2016, is built to please. Unlike most combination skyscrapers where hotel guests are relegated to lower floors with inferior views, the William Vale gifts its guests with the building’s upper tier, topped only by a sprawling roof bar. (Floors of window-lined offices are below.) Better still, each of the 183 rooms has a private balcony with deck chairs and a table, so you can sip a coffee or cocktail as you gaze out at the city. 

Add New York’s largest outdoor hotel swimming pool, a rooftop rink for winter skating and a grassy pocket park steps from the hotel, and the William Vale takes on the trappings of an urban resort. What’s lost in room size (king-bed rooms can be snug) is more than compensated by entertainments.

Once you’ve found the front door — a feat that requires passing storefronts like Du’s DoNuts, hotel restaurant Leuca and turning a corner — you enter a wood-lined check-in area and, eureka, the lobby. It’s a generous space with discrete seating areas outfitted with comfortable, Brooklyn-stylish sofas and chairs in black leather and oatmeal tweeds,  brightened by Marela Zocarias’ high-voltage artworks designed for the space. It’s sufficiently spacious that a guest conducting a series of phone meetings at a corner table didn’t bother me as I checked my messages. Newspapers appear daily on a plant-filled table if you’re feeling nostalgic. And flanking the elevators, twin screens blink images by contemporary artists that you can change yourself, a clever detail at a hotel that specializes in them.

A word about the name: it’s pure Brooklyn. William Vale was the mid-18th-century Brooklyn property magnate who owned the land. Originally called the Level Hotel, the project was renamed before it opened. Smart move. 

Cool detail: We love the way this promotional video for the Ailey II dance company captures the spirit of the hotel (and the dancers).

Rooms: Designed by Brooklyn’s Studio Munge, guest rooms are whimsical, upbeat and bright. Best of all, they offer a sense of place. You’re in Brooklyn, not Manhattan (or Boston or LA) these art-filled interior all but shout. Still in doubt?  Check out the Instagram-happy views of the East River or the cityscape from the floor-to-ceiling windows.  Rooms sporting floor-to-ceiling white (yes, the floorboards are white, topped with jaunty striped rugs) are brightened by strategic deployments of colorful art, pillows and lamps. Ranging from spacious to snug, they make the most of the space and come smartly outfitted with an upholstered sofa, built-in dressers and sliding glass doors that open onto the balcony. The black-and-white bathrooms boast large stall showers. If you’re feeling flush, spring for a corner suite. The duplex penthouse suite comes with a hot tub.

Food and drink: Andrew Carmellini, the super chef behind The Dutch in SoHo and Locanda Verde at the Greenwich Hotel, directs the hotel’s three stylish food and drink venues.  Leuca, an atmospheric restaurant offering Southern Italian cuisine, is cleverly designed to feel more intimate than it is.  With a spacious, wood-lined dining room in the back and a bar and dining area in the front, it evokes a glamorous villa on the Amalfi Coast (we love the bar’s geometric tile floor). Westlight, the sweeping roof bar on the 21st floor, serves up craft cocktails and breathtaking views, indoors and outdoors, weather permitting, year round. And chipper Mister Dip, a retrofitted 1974 Airstream travel trailer parked next to the hotel, serves up burgers, fries and dipped softies during when days are long and the weather is warm.

Amenities: 60-foot outdoor pool (the largest at a hotel in New York City); skating rink in winter; Vale Park, a public green space next door to the hotel; expansive meeting and event spaces; pet friendly; Le Labo bath products; free WiFi; twice daily housekeeping; Lavazzo espresso machines in rooms.

Surroundings: The hotel is located in the heart of Williamsburg, steps from streets dotted with small shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. For hotel aficionados, the Wythe, Brooklyn’s other foremost boutique hotel, is a block away. The L train subway line connecting you to Manhattan and points east in Brooklyn is an easy, 10-minute walk away. 

Back story:  Before the arrival of the William Vale Hotel in 2016, the block was the domain of the low-slung, nondescript factory buildings that once dominated Williamsburg. Designed by Brooklyn architects Albo Lamberis, the hotel has a big footprint, but more panache than a classic glass box, thanks to the concrete trussing over multiple, glass-fronted floors and a topknot of concrete balconies. 

Keep in Mind:  The ice rink is made from synthetic polymer “glice” instead of bonafide ice, in case that bothers you.

The William Vale Hotel

111 North 12th Street

Brooklyn, New York 11249

718 631 8400