Throughout the year, Brooklyn Magazine partners with McCarren Hotel & Pool to give New York creatives a two-night staycation in the heart of Williamsburg and the opportunity to show us their favorite spots in the neighborhood. McCarren Hotel & Pool offers an urban retreat with an ideal location for exploring one of Brooklyn’s most exciting neighborhoods. With their contemporary American restaurant & bar Oleanders, a lively rooftop bar featuring no-cover DJ parties and signature cocktails, one of the city’s largest outdoor swimming pools, and sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, this destination has something for travelers and locals alike, every season of the year.
Just because you call a neighborhood home doesn’t mean you stop exploring it. When I met up with Liza de Guia, a Greenpoint local and host of James Beard nominated food series, food.curated, she is lounging on the rooftop deck of the McCarren Hotel & Pool with boyfriend (and lead singer of Thursday) Geoff Rickly. While Liza works on a new season of her series, Geoff has been on Thursday’s 20 year anniversary tour, so a staycation at the suite in the hotel comes as a much needed reprieve from a busy schedule for the couple.
“The penthouse suite on the 7th Floor was everything we could ask for. Minimalist design, bright and clean,” said Liza. “We had a gorgeous view of the park and the vast NYC skyline, stretching in the distance. At night, it was wonderfully romantic to stand outside on the balcony and stare at all the sparkling lights.”
The pair were eager to show me their favorite spots around the neighborhood, a curated tour of speciality shops and incredible eats. Enjoying the mildly sunny, newly spring day, we began our adventure.
Our first stop was Rough Trade Records, a personal favorite of Geoff’s. Excited to pick out some new music, we perused the aisles and landed on some top-notch selections: The new Dirty Projectors record, of course, and the debut from Muna. While searching we played vinyl in the Sonos listening room, and checked out the photo display of We’ve Come So Far—The Last Days of Death By Audio, which showcased work from the same photographer capturing our day, Ebru Yildiz.
In need of an afternoon pick me up, Liza guided us to her favorite local coffee shop, Devocion. Its high ceilings and brick interiors were as pleasing as their lattes, and the perfect antidote to our stroll down a windy Grand Street. Devocion is a roastery as well, and it’s worth it to stop in and be mesmerized by the chocolate-colored beans churning in their large roasters.
Satisfied, we headed to Alter, a boutique clothing shop in Greenpoint. Liza joked that it is the only place Geoff likes to shop, as it boasts a “health goth” vibe–and she wasn’t kidding. The employees greeted them like friends, showing them to new items, and helping Liza select a birthday gift for a friend. Alter’s pieces were simple but added an edge to classic cuts and lines. A successful, hefty purchase later, we decided to pop into the couple’s favorite book store, WORD, on the very same block.
WORD is a cozy reader’s haven, with tight aisles packed with books upon books. It’s a community space as well, with programming and events often scheduled in the store’s basement level space. As we checked out the selection, and paid special attention to the latest 33 ⅓ releases, we ran into a friend of Geoff and Liza’s, Amy Rose Spiegel, the newly appointed Editor of Talkhouse, where Geoff is a frequent contributor. “That is why I love this place!” Liza explained. “It attracts great people.”
Peckish from the day, we moved on to Liza’s favorite oyster happy hour at Greenpoint Fish & Lobster. Sitting at the bar, we split a dozen prime $1 oysters. Plump and briny, they were the perfect partner to cold beers after a long day. The restaurant also has a full menu, and doubles as a market. Watching neighborhood shoppers select fresh cuts to cook at home, we finished our beers and made our way to our day’s finale: dinner!
Tucked away in the lower level of McCarren Hotel & Pool, Oleander’s is a hidden treasure. Towering ceilings with decadent chandeliers and cheeky animal portraits that look over diners, the restaurant is a quiet reprieve from the busy north Williamsburg streets. Ready for another drink, we indulged in the killer happy hour menu. All cocktails are $6, so we tried everything from Aperol based drinks to classic Old Fashioneds. The happy hour food offerings are fantastic as well. The four of us split several small plates, and among those a standout was the Oleander burger: a super affordable and not-gut-busting-sized sandwich that left room for more dishes. After superbly contenting our stomachs, we said hi to the chef, wrapped up our meal, and the couple retired back to their suite. Not a bad way to start off spring in Brooklyn.
“All in all, we had a glorious staycation at the McCarren Hotel. The food & cocktails at Oleander’s was comforting and perfect for sharing,” said Liza. “The rooftop bar was going off on the weekend — tons of music and dancing, and the location was central to all our favorite spots.”