It was the end of July, I had been working like a lunatic holding down 3 or more jobs since January and I was running on fumes. I hadn’t had a real holiday in two years and wasn’t even sure if I knew how to do a holiday or a ‘day off’ anymore without excessive guilt creeping in. Before you get the violins out, there was another job, in New York (could’ve been worse). Greg and I had been invited to photograph a beautiful wedding in upstate New York and what felt like 5 seconds later, I was frantically scrolling through the onboard entertainment system whilst necking mini bottles of Malbec to relieve my anxiety of ‘leaving work’. Thank you Virgin Atlantic.
This trip had snuck up on us so quickly that before we knew it the wedding reception was over and in classic Dhaliwal-Davies style, we had nowhere planned to stay the next day. Exhilarating and terrifying. It was almost midnight when I started hitting the search engines hard for anything half decent in Manhattan and last-minute, at a price that still allowed us to eat.
I got nothing. It was all glamour and starvation – I think that’s what Manhattan reduces most folk to.
Then, from the recesses of my brain….
Brooklyn. I thought.
Williamsburg. I thought.
Another Google search. I thought.
0.98 seconds later, there it was…The Williamsburg Hotel.
I had looked at the website for about 2 minutes before grabbing Greg’s credit card (mamma didn’t raise no fool) and hitting ‘Book’. The invigoration I felt after booking a new place to discover, could only mean that this was a good decision. Most of my decisions past midnight are usually regrettable.
Morning came. Bags in the rental car. Sat Nav on. Destination 96 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
Driving over the Brooklyn Bridge in rush hour, steadily getting more and more nervous, I prayed I had made the right decision.
Hours later, we parked up with our luggage and our hotel anxiety*. We saw the entrance. Unbounded relief and joy washed over me – I still maintain that this is one of the best decisions I think I‘ve made all year.
The Williamsburg Hotel, designed by Michaelis Boyd (of London), is one hip hotel, right down to the loos, the lifts and the lobby. Only open this year, the rooms have a clean, airy feel with their own balconies – ours had an awesome view of the Manhattan skyline – I imagine only New Yorkers become immune to this view. Each room has its own footprint, light fittings and furniture in collaboration with the Bill Amberg studio, who create some pretty extraordinary things with leather in London. (Londoners nailing it in Brooklyn!).
As much as I could comfortably laze around in the rooms all day, it was nothing compared to the love I felt for the bathroom. The jewel-toned teal tiles, the brushed gold hardware and the two small mirror lights – it was small but impeccable. It was dark and delicious. No sunlight flooding in to expose my blemishes, dark circles or facial hair. A glorious dark den for those who revel in more moodier surroundings….or for those who didn’t splash out on a bigger room. Next time….
Sadly, for me and my facial hair, the basement is light-filled (albeit beautifully) with a statement rainbow thread canopy dominating the bar. The restaurant is a cool mix of retro tomato red upholstery, pendant lighting and green chevron tiling. There is a Ballroom and Rooftop in the works but had yet to be completed at the time of our visit. If they’re anything like the rest of the hotel, they’ll be incred.
Although a Boutique Hotel, The Williamsburg, could compete with any major hip hotel in Manhattan. It’s desperately hard not to succumb to the charm of the hotel and Williamsburg itself – it was a feeding frenzy of creativity; it made me want to get a questionable undercut, it willed me to buy vintage sunglasses that were definitely too big for my face, it goaded me into starting this blog that I’d been talking about forever, but most importantly, it gave me what I so desperately needed – a holiday.
Cool, comfortable and already a modern classic. No starvation required.
* does anyone else get this? Hotel anxiety = knowing you’ve booked somewhere, hoping it’s not shit and praying it’s worth the money you’ve paid. Personally, my hotel anxiety stems from a lifetime of my mother booking hotels that ‘were a bargain’ and we’d inevitably rock up at a glorified refugee centre.
Room featured – The Skyline Suite | Photography by Shireen Dhaliwal & Gregory Davies