Parlour X photographer Sophie Brockwell lived in New York City, residing in Brooklyn for a year before relocating back to Sydney. As one of New York City’s five boroughs, Brooklyn is a dynamic cultural and creative hub for the hottest music, art and nightlife. As a burgeoning district for young families, couples and expats, discover the hidden, local haunts in this leafy suburb outside Manhattan.
When visiting New York City, do you recommend staying in Manhattan and visiting Brooklyn, or spending a few days in Brooklyn entirely?
The beauty of New York is that there are so many different boroughs to explore. I recommend staying in Brooklyn as it’s quite different to Manhattan and it is so expansive and culturally vibrant. It definitely feels like home for me. Brooklyn is truly a melting pot of different cultures and creative pursuits. Much like Manhattan there are always new venues to explore, interesting exhibitions and great live music.
If you are visiting Manhattan and want to make Brooklyn part of your stay, spend at least two nights at either of these fantastic hotels:
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge – a boutique hotel near Brooklyn Bridge with waterfront views.
The William Vale Hotel – sweeping views of Manhattan at this newly open 22-floor hotel.
Where is your favourite breakfast, brunch and most importantly, coffee spots?
I have to say that I think the coffee in Brooklyn is up there with Australian coffee!
I love Five Leaves in Greenpoint - it was a passion project of Heath Ledger’s and reflects an Australian quality of food and coffee.
Foster Sundry in Bushwick - an amazing café + deli. They have speciality groceries, cheese + cured meats. And the coffee is delicious!
What are your favourite restaurants?
Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg – the fine dining restaurant downstairs is called Reynard and it is a mix between French and American cuisine. I can’t deny myself a steak and a dirty martini every time I visit.
After dinner it’s a must for you to have a cocktail in the rooftop bar, The Ides. The view of Manhattan from the rooftop is unparalleled in the city, it’s incredible! Roberta’s in Bushwick – a laid back Italian restaurant/bar with arguably the best pizza in Brooklyn. You’ll have to wait for a table but trust me – it’s worth it. The restaurant is within a converted warehouse space and has an authentically Brooklyn atmosphere. Faro in Bushwick – they specialise in handmade pasta made with locally sourced grains. The menu changes seasonally and is always delicious.
The night scene in Brooklyn is synonymous. Where and what are best bars, speakeasies and night life?
Ides Bar on the rooftop of the Wythe is a personal favourite. Yours Sincerely in Bushwick is also a favourite. They specialise in cocktails and you can actually do a cocktail tasting. The menu changes all the time and there is definitely something for everyone.
List your favourite multi-brand boutiques for fashion, interiors, music.
Manhattan is definitely the place to be if you want to visit the bigger boutiques and department stores. However, some beautiful little boutiques are opening up in Brooklyn, particularly in Williamsburg.
Quiet Storms in Williamsburg - a divine little jewellery store which stocks all of my favourite jewellers including All Blues, Tom Wood, Sophie Bille Brahe and Charlotte Chesnais.
Space NK in Williamsburg - a beautiful boutique with a focus on luxury beauty and skincare products.
Stella Dallas in Williamsburg – two boutique (Stella Dallas Living and 10 ft Single) are the only vintage stores that I really love in NY. I’m a bit of a vintage t-shirt/Levi’s collector and 10 ft Single is really well organised with the best selection. Stella Dallas Living is a selection of antique and internationally sourced textiles and furnishings.
What are your favourite ‘nooks’, hubs and districts around Brooklyn?
Williamsburg is one of my favourites. Bedford Avenue is the main street and is an exciting area to explore. The water is only a short walk away and you can see the whole of Manhattan. Visiting Dumbo is also a must and there’s always things shaking there – you can see a whole day itinerary tour via nycgo.com here. Dumbo's cobblestone streets and converted warehouse buildings are the framework for boutiques, restaurants and cafes. Near the waterfront, former tobacco factory - St. Ann's Warehouse, is the hub of the performance and gallery scene. The north end of Brooklyn Bridge Park features Jane’s Carousel as well as views of the Manhattan skyline.
The best vantage points for people watching and taking it all in?
What is the best art and cultural experiences? Are there annual festivals?
Brooklyn Museum is a must see. They house some of the most iconic artists and retrospectives in the world, on par with the likes of the Guggenheim, the Met, MoMA, etc. There is also a strong focus on inclusivity and feminist art. Part of the permanent collection is Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party and I was lucky enough to see Georgia O’Keeffe’s retrospective which included incredible pieces from her personal wardrobe… very inspiring!
The Music Hall of Williamsburg is one of the best live music venues in NY. They have a tonne of great acts throughout the week, so I recommend checking their line-up before your trip.
For first time visitors, is there anything we need to know in getting around?
I’d recommend staying near a subway stop. even though Uber is readily available, the subway is always faster.