NEW YORK — From out on Furman Street, you can smell the sandalwood in the lobby of the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Opened in February and born of a concept that was more than a decade in the making, the first (and so far only) newbuild hotel under the 2-year-old eco-luxe chainlet is nothing if not fully committed to its twin concepts of guest wellness and environmental sustainability.
"Seeds Planted!" trumpeted the subject line of the email the hotel sent to notify me that my room was ready for my family's hosted stay. It turned out that subject line was both literal and figurative.
In a breezeway separating the hotel from its adjacent luxury residences building is an exterior plant wall divided into three sections: "For You" (food plants that guests can take), "For Nature" (vegetation that will be replanted) and "For Us" (to be used in the hotel's kitchen or gardens).
The lobby at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge.
The light-filled hotel lobby is also green, featuring a two-story plant wall complemented by tables made of recycled wood and well-worn leather chairs. Exposed concrete beams offer an industrial-chic accent.
The green wall is actually one of a series of creations by Brooklyn-based artists and designers. It consists of a creeping fig and strategically placed ferns in mesh panels. The live vegetation creates a wall that will evolve over time. Funkier still is a texturized rubber sculpture made of roofing materials from an upstate New York building destroyed by a 2014 tornado.
Once my family and I received our little round, wooden room keys (think poker chip, only lighter and with a microchip to unlock doors), we headed upstairs, where the hotel continued its mission with equal fervor. Dramatically overshadowing any amenities is the tableau: Many rooms have reach-out-and-touch-me views of the Lower Manhattan skyline. In our case, the room faced south, offering a view of the Statue of Liberty.
Green-consciousness notwithstanding, the layout of our double-queen room was clever. It was similar to that of a studio apartment with an open, c-counter kitchen, only the counter on the partial partition was that of the bathroom vanity, making for a partially open bathroom that enlarged the perceived space.
Lots of wood and stone accents, a plant box, recessed lighting and 100% organic cotton bedding were among the touches that ensured a pampering vibe, while the environmentally driven reminders — each shower has a five-minute hourglass timer, for example — kept the message charming.
The 1 Hotels concept is the brainchild of former Starwood Hotels chief Barry Sternlicht, who hatched the brand in 2006 but didn't officially debut it until 2015. That first 1 Hotel, in Miami, and an ensuing one in Manhattan were redevelopments, making the Brooklyn property the brand's sole newbuild.
A 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge guestroom’s sleeping area.
That means there are plenty of environmentally friendly touches a guest can appreciate without having to feel sacrificed in any way. For example, the 194-room Brooklyn property sources all its power from wind energy, while more than half its construction materials are regional and reclaimed, including pine beams from an old Domino Sugar plant. The low-energy light bulbs provided plenty of illumination, the in-room recycling bins were convenient, and the hemp-blend mattresses were comfortable.
It was only in the hotel's Neighbors cafe that things seemed a bit overdone. Yes, offering spicy and salty Bee's Knees Honey with coffee is unique, but serving "Brooklyn bread" (a.k.a. a bagel) on what looked like a thin slab of lava rock came off as a little cliched.
Still, guests have plenty of options for venturing off property without burning any gasoline. The hotel sits near the northern end of the 1.3-mile-long Brooklyn Bridge Park, which hugs the East River and includes plenty of activities and views worthy of a stroll.
A five-minute walk gets you into Brooklyn's Dumbo section, while the shops and brownstones of Brooklyn Heights are within a 15-minute walk.
The hotel also offers a free guest shuttle service in a Tesla Model X electric SUV, complete with its futuristic, falcon-winged doors. The service is supposed to be limited to a one-mile radius of the hotel, effectively barring rides into Manhattan, but on one early afternoon, our driver was kind enough to whisk us up to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, about three miles away.
Cliches aside, the hotel's 4,000-square-foot rooftop, with its pool, bar and lots of lounge chairs, will likely impress even the most veteran travelers with its vibe and its stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan.
Mid-September weekend rates start at about $400 a night and work their way up to $6,000 for the 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom Riverhouse suite.