Alongside the predictable ripped Acne denim and thrift-store T-shirts, the guys donned an unkempt preppy uniform of crumpled button-ups from Steven Alan and frayed cutoffs from J. Crew. The hipper gals wore Alexander Wang tops and Isabel Marant dresses, while some women showed up in Coach bags and kitten heels, fashion choices more commonly associated with Midtown than Bedford Avenue.
A symphony of foreign tongues could be overheard, too: tourists from Portugal, Japan, France, Spain and, yes, Manhattan, all seeking the idealized Williamsburg je ne sais quoi. One gentleman, rocking back and forth on his skateboard, disparaged Le Bain, the lounge atop the Standard hotel in the meatpacking district: “I’m never going back there again!”
The dazzling hotel and night life complex, a staple of the Manhattan circuit, has finally washed up on Brooklyn’s hype-friendly shores, bringing with it the kind of crowds eager to finally explore the Next Big Thing. And what are they finding across the river? Communal tables, artisanal beer, saltwater pools and a cast of characters right out of the HBO series “Girls.”
Since opening in May at a restored factory building, the Wythe has helped spiff up a once-desolate corner of Williamsburg — North 11th Street and Wythe Avenue — into an artisanal-food-and-drink playpen.
Bored of the hotel’s commanding view of Manhattan? Pop over to the Kinfolk Studios, an experimental emporium that houses a design studio, gallery, cafe, bar and a popular Scandinavian restaurant.
Craving live music with a side of smoked trout salad? Cross the street to Brooklyn Bowl, where Questlove spins music on Thursdays, Blue Ribbon serves cozy nibbles, and bowling is an ironic (or would that be unironic?) pastime for 20-somethings.
And that’s just the start. Turn the corner and find the Brooklyn Brewery, a fabled local beer manufacturer that, aside from offering tours, now opens its industrial red doors as a beer garden on the weekends. Or stumble a couple of blocks and find Berry Park, a two-level sports bar that plays house music and soccer games, a newly sanitized waterfront and another yet boutique hotel — this one with a South-Beach-in-Brooklyn poolside ambience.
The city’s after-dark cognoscenti have taken note. “It’s still a relatively expensive cab ride or long train ride to get to that specific part of Williamsburg from the city or even other parts of Brooklyn,” said Matt Kliegman, who runs the Jane Hotel Ballroom and is an owner of the popular hangouts The Smile on Bond Street and The Westway nightclub in the far West Village. “In order for people to show up, these new developments had to create a fresh energy and feeling of community over there. I think they’ve accomplished that.”
TO see Brooklyn’s sparkly night-life zone unfold, start at the Wythe Hotel around sundown, when a line to its terrace bar formed at about 6 p.m. the other Saturday.
In a departure from the usual Williamsburg free-for-all, the hotel had posted burly security guards in the old-timey, reclaimed brick-and-tile lobby. There was even a velvet rope. Well, sort of; it appeared to be manila, like the kind you find in an antique nautical store. And the guards didn’t turn anyone away. “The line is a capacity issue,” said Sara Moffatt, who was on hosting duties.
Upstairs, a D.J. who resembled Jesus Christ played dub reggae, and when the sun crept below the jaw-dropping Manhattan skyline, it seemed to activate everyone’s internal Instagram clock. A sea of iPhones shot up to capture the blazing pink hues (#nofilter), as if the singer Grimes had just made a surprise appearance at a Skrillex concert.