As of this afternoon, for the first time ever, you can make your way up to the tip top of the brand new William Vale hotel, clink glasses with your crew and look out over the expanse of Brooklyn from the Westlight, the new Williamsburg luxury hotel’s 22nd-floor bar with 360-degree views of the city skyline. Suddenly, Brooklyn will look almost insignificant and underdeveloped, teeming with pathetic, spartan life. Shift your godlike eyes down toward the Wythe Hotel and its unfortunate patrons will look like drunken, desperate ants. “Literally, that’s the Wythe– look how little it looks,” a PR rep laughed along with us.
The lofty feeling is certainly helped along by the fact that the Westlight’s food and bevy program are brought to you by Andrew Carmellini and his Noho Hospitality Group (Bar Primi, Lafayette, The Library at the Public). The innards of the William Vale can’t hurt either. The 183-room hotel opened last week after more than two years of construction followed by some grand opening delays, and it’s as posh as can be. Guests make their way through a courtyard to enter the building, walking underneath the soaring stilts propping this big ol’ baby up.
I felt like I was entering some supremely pricey Star Trek mega-ship when the glass doors finally decided to swoosh open after the length of a long sigh. Across the bright, airy lobby’s white marble floors, an elevator whooshed me up-top.
Entering the Westlight is a dizzying experience since the bar is encased in what’s basically a glass box perched on top of the building. The Vale is well aware that this is an unprecedented view for North Brooklyn, so they’ve mounted several bright yellow observation binoculars (no quarters necessary) around the bar’s outdoor perimeter. If you’re nasty, these can definitely aid in your Wythe peeping/search for authentic prole life down below.
You might have to line up to look through binoculars, but the Westlight is anything but stingy with the outdoor furniture, which seats 100. Torso-high glass barriers offer an unimpeded view of the city, which is great because you just know there are gonna be some manspreading bros and passed-out models on those couches trying their best to block you.
Inside, the bar counts 80 seats of all different varieties: there are modern Danish-style chairs, mid-century bar stools, upright banquettes, and low-slung velvet and leather couches without a hard spot on their blocky structures (these are optimal for fainting a la rich Victorian lady).
As promised, the design throughout the hotel shies away from industrial chic, with its all too familiar reclaimed wood, exposed pipes, incandescent bulbs, and toiling-blue-collar-worker chic. The Westlight is just a little more honest (and not to mention imaginative) with its more decadent motifs. We spotted ’70s lounge style, vaguely Nordic design, and a modern color palette. The flooring is an eye-popping rhombus and blade-shaped pattern in black and white. And there’s chevron wood paneling close to the host stand– ‘scuse me while I fan myself.
The Westlight’s populist appeal definitely lies in its double-decker roof, which you could easily miss if you’re known to look right past two enormous steel staircases. This sky-scraping grassy knoll is clearly where you’re gonna find prosthetics heirs pouring champagne down their dresses. We were told there might be some adirondack chairs in store for the second-level deck, but for now it’s legit just an uninterrupted lawn extending toward the horizon on the East River.
Make sure you’re not too sloshed when you walk up and down those stairs in your big ol’ billowing jumpsuits and platforms or whatever– it’ll probably end in some emergency weekend dental work. Instead, save your chompers for the eats. The menu, we’re told, was “inspired by global street food” and includes smaller-plate items like charred octopus skewers and “chicken-fried chicken wings.” Depending on your definition of street food– that steamy little taco stand outside the Mexico D.F. airport where a guy named Diego rinses his hands off with a two-liter of Coca-Cola versus foie gras served slumdog-style, aka on paper plates, at Smorgasburg– the menu price point, $6 to $18, seems fairly reasonable for the view.
As for the dranks situation, the menu is extensive and includes classics like the Negroni Sbagliato (which roughly means “fucked up Negroni,” an Italian once told me) with cava instead of gin, and Mai Tais made with fresh lime. There’s also a house cocktail list with drinks priced from $14 to $18. Options include the Dolores Royale (mezcal, sherry, vodka, apricot, lime, cava) and the College Fund (Black Strap, Banks Golden Age, rum, tiki bitters, cream, and root beer) which probably tastes something like a prep school bro out for munchies. There’s draft beer too, including Brooklyn Lager, Dupont Belgian saison, and thank god for Miller High Life. Expect a fine selection of fancy spirits, we spotted some amaros, brandy, and lotsa whiskey.
Tonight’s probably a good night to get real silly at the Westlight, as celebrations are in order and DJ Jamal will be on hand to drown out your slurring and horrible pronunciation of rare appertifs. And, hey, if ogling fancy famous people is your thing, we saw Australian celebrity dude chef Curtis Stone milling around earlier. So there’s that.
Get to know it well because, for now anyway, the Westlight is the William Vale’s main attraction. The on-site restaurant, Leuca, is set to open this fall (possibly in October, we hear) and an outdoor pool won’t be open to the masses until next summer (for now it’s reserved for hotel guests only). Which means you’ll just have to do all your drunken bellyflopping (every weekend after the markets close) on that enormous roof lawn until then.
The Westlight is located at the William Vale Hotel, 111 North 12th Street, Williamsburg. Open Sunday through Wednesday 4 pm to 12 am, Thursday through Saturday 4 pm to 2 am.