Manhattan has been called many things, but passé is usually never one of them. Ten years ago it was hard to imagine a luxury lifestyle outside of Manhattan. But times have changed, and New York socialites along with them. VIP urban dwellers looking for a little something different are braving the trek across the East River and are discovering the luxury side of Brooklyn and Queens.
Williamsburg is by far one of Brooklyn’s most trendy and talked-about neighborhoods. Once barren and industrial, populated with nothing but warehouses, this waterfront destination has blossomed into a vibrant and youthful haven for hipsters, artists, musicians and young professionals.
Dining and shopping is what you come to Williamsburg for. The streets are flanked with boutiques, and a new restaurant seems to open on a daily basis. No doubt the giant of Williamsburg’s restaurant scene is Peter Luger Steakhouse, which sits just under the Williamsburg Bridge. This historical establishment has been serving up prime cuts of beef to New York’s elite for well over 100 years. Note: Peter Luger is cash-only.
But if your scene is something a little more local, we suggest Diner. Housed in a converted railroad dining car, this tiny watering hole serves up a constantly rotating menu of fresh and local ingredients (including the best burger in NYC, we say. Bold statement, but trust us). Tip: Diner’s weekend brunch has quite the reputation, so be prepared for a long wait during peak hours.
Fancy a brew? Kick back with the local, eponymous beverage at the Brooklyn Brewery.
|The Bowery Hotel guest rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows and hardwood floors.|
Fashionistas tired of the 5th Avenue scene will love a trip to the Brooklyn Flea, held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the East River waterfront, between North 6th and 7th streets. This antique and vintage hot spot has been a New York staple for years. Note: On summer Saturdays, the same space plays host to Smorgasburg, a foodie festival packed with local purveyors selling their specialties to the public.
Getting There: Williamsburg is a straight shot over the Williamsburg Bridge. Or, if you prefer to travel like a local, take the L train to Bedford Avenue and explore on foot.
Further north from Brooklyn, and across the Queensboro Bridge from Manhattan, is another thriving neighborhood that should be on your radar. Long Island City is Queens’ little luxury gem, home to high-rise apartment buildings, quaint restaurants and a flourishing art scene.
|The Bowery Hotel design embodies the standard in luxury New York City living.|
The Museum of Modern Art has an outpost in Long Island City. MoMA PS1 is one of the country’s oldest nonprofit contemporary art centers. Note: This museum is best enjoyed by the adventurous art pursuers. MoMA PS1 devotes itself to displaying some of the most experimental art in the world. Exhibitions often include artists’ retrospectives, site-specific installations, historical surveys and other forms of international art.
Movie buffs will love the Museum of the Moving Image, which is technically in Astoria, but still very close to Long Island City. Take a tour through cinematic history while checking out paraphernalia from some of your favorite flicks.
Foodies with a need for a view will love Water’s Edge Restaurant, which overlooks the Manhattan skyline. Guests can dine indoors or alfresco while taking in iconic views.
Be sure to check out Testaccio Ristorante as well, which serves up delicious brick oven pizzas and homemade pastas.
One of Long Island City’s best-kept nightlife secrets is Dutch Kills. This modern take on a speakeasy is a throwback to the good old days of bob haircuts and spats—and the cocktails are to die for.
Getting There: Travelers can reach Long Island City via the Queensboro Bridge or on the No. 7 train at Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue.
Where to Stay
While Brooklyn and Queens make a perfectly lovely day trip or night out, their hotel scene has yet to catch up with the needs of the overly posh (but we say those days aren’t far off). For those who still need VIP creature comforts, it’s best to book a hotel in Manhattan.
The Gansevoort Park Avenue is a perfect jumping point from which A-listers can easily access the outer boroughs. The hotel has played host to the likes of Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian. We hear the best rooms to book are the Grand Deluxe King Rooms. These are 450 square feet with a walkout balcony and five-fixture bathroom. Tip: For the ultimate in luxury, book the three-bedroom Penthouses, Nos. 1110, 1111, 1112 and 1211, or the Park Suite, with a 1000-square-foot terrace.
Reach out to Director of Leisure Travel Kerry Bergin ([email protected]).
After a full day of perusing Brooklyn and Queens, we suggest booking a treatment at the hotel’s 3,500-square-foot Exhale Spa. Request the Flow Massage, which is perfect for those who like deep tissue massages without the pressure. Spa appointments should be made a week in advance. Contact Spa Director Lee-ann Ng Wai ([email protected]; 646-380-5330).
Looking for insider access? Reach out to Sanam, Jane, Michael or Abrahm with the concierge team. We hear that they have been able to pull off a personal photo shoot for families in the city, VIP tickets to sold-out concerts or shows, and backstage passes during Fashion Week. Contact the team at [email protected] or 212-317-2900.
|Gansevoort Park Avenue’s Superior Rooms come with a king or queen bed.|
For a downtown option, we say The Bowery Hotel is the best. Be sure to book the Bowery One Bedroom rooms, all of which have terraces. We hear that the north-facing rooms have views of the Empire State Building. Reach out to Audrey Laurent ([email protected]; 212-505-9100), director of sales, with questions.
While New York’s restaurant scene can be overwhelming, diners will not be disappointed with a meal at the hotel restaurant, Gemma. Tip: Try the branzino al forno. The restaurant is open to the public, but only hotel guests are granted reservations. For this, contact Gemma’s General Manager Marko Zivkovic (212-505-9100). It is best to make reservations five days in advance.
For over-the-top needs, reach out to Tilo Springs ([email protected]; 212-505-9100), front office manager. We were told that Springs can arrange for personal shoppers and assistants; in-room spa services; premium seating for events, concerts and shows; and helicopter tours of the city.
Tip: For more information on New York City, check out the city’s tourism website, nycgo.com.