Of course, no Brooklyn building is complete without some work from Steven Powers to lighten the mood, so there are a few of his distinctive painted signs, which can be viewed through the event space and on the private second-floor terraces. Each of the 62 queen and king beds, and all the desks and windowsills, were made from wood salvaged from the building—mainly the removal of the west bay, which was replaced with glass to take advantage of the skyline views. Dave Hollier, who runs a woodshop just steps away, turned the work around in a matter of weeks, which may be why Lawrence calls him “a total sweetheart.” Flavor Paper’s Dan Funderburgh created custom wallpaper for the rooms, including a tongue-in-cheek Williamsburg pattern featuring tire-less bike frames and shoes hanging from power lines. These details combine in masculine but airy rooms that don’t try to hide their industrial past. The eco-friendly bath products by Goldie’s are notably not in wasteful travel containers, and you also won’t find any disposable slippers, notepads, or room-service menus.
The absence of room service from Andrew Tarlow’s food and beverage program is in keeping with what has made his restaurants so successful in the Brooklyn dining scene. He wants people to come together over a meal at Reynards, for locals and visitors to mingle at the bar or communal table. The menu here is also consistent with what keeps restaurants in the Tarlow empire packed many nights of the week: local, seasonal produce paired with hearty cuts of meat and fish, all prepared simply but meticulously.
If, as a non-guest of the hotel, you choose to stop by Reynards, they’d certainly love to have you—in fact, a handful of local patrons would complete this fetishized mecca of Brooklyn design and culinary arts. The Wythe knows it’s bringing an extra boost of gentrified tourism (a room of bunk beds starts at $179 plus tax) to an area that still has a love-hate relationship with the changes in the last decade or two, so it still seems a little nervous about being accepted by its neighbors. This became clear when we walked into the Manhattan King room, a slightly larger room with a floor-to-ceiling view of its namesake.
“This is our—well, I don’t want to call it our fancy room,” Lawrence said, though neither of us could produce a more appropriate adjective. In fact, the room was, like all the rooms here, fancy, and the spectacular view made it all the more so.
A little south and west of the hotel, past blocks of low-rising warehouses and factories, a new condo marred the view of the city and gave the false impression that all the gentrification is over there. I was slightly reassured as I remembered that an old building was probably totally knocked down to make room for that all-inclusive condo, likely constructed as cheaply as possible with nothing close to the attention to detail of the Wythe. It’s not that the condo is the only symbol of a changing neighborhood, but it is an uglier, less self-aware example.
If there is anything this current incarnation of Williamsburg loves more than a beautifully restored, century-old warehouse full of good-looking people and beautiful objects made by a good-looking artist who may very well be drinking an old-fashioned right now in the restaurant that serves local, seasonal fare prepared and served by even more good-looking people, I would like to know what that is. As Williamsburg tourism goes, Wythe has pretty much hit the nail on the head, though it’s still unclear if, in this ridiculous metaphor, you are the nail or the slab of salvaged wood. •