Monday, November 12, 2007

Brooklyn's first boutique hotel... on the Gowanus

We haven't specifically done a hotel review here before, but I think this one is pertinent to many of our readers:

We were in New York this weekend for one night (for SV4's birthday - which was a fantastic time BTW,) and instead of couching it with friends we decided to check out the brand new Hotel le Bleu in Brooklyn. It's billed as a discount boutique hotel in Park Slope. At $333 it's hardly a discount hotel in most markets, but a steal in New York - where you can't touch the most basic of rooms for less than five or six hundred a night.

The Park Slope address is pushing it a bit: Hotel le Bleu is located at Fourth Ave. and 5th St., which by all accounts is the Gowanus - an industrial area between the Slope and Carroll Gardens. I'm personally a fan of the Gowanus area (the Gowanus Canal, as legend has it, is "70% guns" and has a great deal of old Brooklyn industrial charm.) The hotel is one block from the restaurants, shops and bars of 5th Ave. in Park Slope and a 10 minute walk to Smith and Court Streets in the other direction.

The decor pulls out every cliche in the book: smooth, minimalist white surfaces accented with dark wood, stainless steel and blue lights... even the canned "hotel lobby house music" in (you guessed it) the lobby. It's nice enough - just not imaginative in any way. For the special internet rate we got a king bed and a balcony. The bed was super comfy, the room was (again) nicely designed and appointed, but neither particularly clever or luxurious. The large west facing windows and balcony provided views of the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn, just beyond local landmarks such as the Eagle Clothing sign and the elevated 9th St. subway platform which straddles the canal. Free wireless internet, above average linens, a big glassed-in shower and an enormous plasma TV were much appreciated touches.

eagle sign adjusted
industrial-awesome fourth floor balcony view toward New York Harbor

The service was very friendly, but somewhat clueless. The hotel has been only open a week, so we'll give them some slack to work out the bugs in this area. It generally tries too hard and fails at being hip, and could try a little harder in other areas. The quirkiness of the area and the high quality of the rooms themselves keep it form feeling like a Best Western that flipped through a copy of Surface Magazine eight years ago, but for the price, the amenities and the location, Hotel le Bleu a solid option for a home-base in Brooklyn. Overall, it's a decent Standard knock-off in an unusual but very convenient area. Best to take full advantage of the local dining, shopping and strolling options - which are some of New York City's finest gems.

I should note that any gripes aside, Brooklyn - South Brooklyn in particular - has a severe hotel shortage, and for being pioneers in this area with a very decent product, our hats off to Hotel le Bleu. My only suggestion would be to embrace the charachter of the neighborhood and not try so hard to be stereotypical "hip".

Some snapshots of the room and photos from Sam's party here.

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