With the myriad of trendy Manhattan hotels, there are endless options for tourists seeking the quintessential New York experience. But for the eclectic traveler or the overwhelmed local who needs a weekend away, there's a completely different scene just one borough over.
Although Brooklyn has evolved into a hip locale for young families looking to settle down and hipsters who can afford the exorbitant rent, the area remains rich with culture. Bushwick is a shining example with its vibrant blocks of street art, historical buildings and a diverse community that's keeping the neighborhood alive.
Just at the edge of the neighborhood, right off the M train, is the newest addition to the Hotel RL family. Warm accommodations with a modern style and an active social setting, it's become a Bushwick staple. Guests and locals alike have found a common appreciation for the establishment.
Left: A guest bed at the Hotel RL in Brooklyn. Top Right: Storage bins labeled with the Hotel RL logo. Bottom Right: A view of the elevated MTA line from a third-floor guest room at the Hotel RL in Brooklyn.
I recently crossed the river into Brooklyn for a little staycation at the newly opened hotel. As I settled into my room, I was enamored with the mural behind the bed, a room-length black and white photo of the Brooklyn skyline from an era long past. The room's modern design fused style and function for the ideal stay. The railway themed decor was complemented by a view of the elevated MTA line, passing right in front of the hotel, above the street outside.
Just downstairs is the Living Stage. A great place to get a coffee or a snack, it also serves as a nightly venue for live performances and other events. Queer youth from the Ali Forney Center have also been welcomed to perform their own pieces.
Top Left: The cafe at the Living Stage in Hotel RL Brooklyn. Right: The stage at the Living Stage in Hotel RL Brooklyn. Bottom Left: Seating at the Living Stage in Hotel RL Brooklyn.
Hotel RL has teamed up with the Ali Forney Center as part of Project Wake Up Call. For a donation less than the cost of most New York hotels, guests get a free night stay at the hotel. The donation goes toward Ali Forney Center’s housing of LGBTQ youth and the many lifesaving services they provide.
Just outside the hotel are blocks and blocks of beautiful street art. Featuring artists from all over the world, the colorful creations provide a uniquely artistic atmosphere to the neighborhood. It’s worth an afternoon walking tour or just a stroll on your own to take in the incredible works.
Various works of street art in Bushwick, walking distance from the Hotel RL Brooklyn.
The neighborhood is also rich with history to explore. A red brick mansion at the corner of Willoughby and Bushwick Avenues was once home to the explorer, Robert Peary, who claimed to be the first man to reach the North Pole. A few blocks away is the Arion Mannerchör, a former opera house that now houses lofts for trendy locals. The streets of Bushwick and the neighboring Bed Stuy also raised the likes of Mae West, Jackie Gleason and Jay Z.
Before heading back to the hotel, there’s some unique local shopping for the thrifty, yet stylish treasure hunters. Street Fever is a bohemian market built into an alley, reminiscent of those in the narrow streets of Morocco or Jerusalem, but with a punk motif and filled with novelty trinkets and tchotchkes. Just across the street from Hotel RL is an unnamed, newly opened showroom for local up and coming designers, a unique array of vintage and original pieces perfect for those with a specific sense of style.
Left: Street Fever, a bohemian market in Bushwick. Top Right: The exterior of a showroom featuring local designers in Bushwick, across the street from Hotel RL Brooklyn. Bottom Right: Items on the showroom floor.
After returning to the hotel to freshen up, it’s a perfect time to visit the backyard. Unwind and enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail while taking in the sunset. Or play a game of cornhole or Jenga with friends.
Left: The backyard at Hotel RL in Brooklyn. Right: A mural on the back wall of Hotel RL in Brooklyn, facing the backyard.
With a hearty appetite, there’s no better place for dinner than Santa Panza. Just across the street, this Italian restaurant is the delectable creation of Pietro Hebel, Giovanni Gelfini and Clement Chabernaud. The menu is curated with refreshing fruit cocktails and authentic Italian cuisines. The interior provides a rustic charm for a low-lit romantic dinner or some drunken and jovial company.
Left: The pizza oven at Santa Panza. Right: The bar at Santa Panza.
Dinner and drinks at Santa Panza.
After dinner, head back to the Living Stage. Enjoy a nightcap and take in a live performance from musicians, poets, and the many talented local artists who’ve taken to the stage.
As you retire to your room, there’s no better way to fall asleep than to the calms sounds of the passing trains and their soft vibrations.
For more information and to book your stay, visit Hotel RL.