ECONOMY

Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond

This article is part of a guide to New York from FT Globetrotter

At The Leading Hotels of the World, we love cities for their energy, vibrancy and history. As a born-and-bred New Yorker, I feel the same way. I grew up on Long Island, lived in Manhattan for 10 years after college and have spent the past 12 years in Brooklyn with my family. Before the pandemic, I spent every weekday in Manhattan at our Midtown headquarters. I could never envision living anywhere else. 

While the pandemic has devastated the hospitality and restaurant business over the past year, it has also been inspiring to see the creativity, ingenuity and perseverance of the restaurateurs and hoteliers of NYC. They have given me hope that the future of my beloved city continues to be bright.

As I have not been able to travel much for work over the past 18 months, I have had more time to discover the gems right in my own Brooklyn backyard and elsewhere in the city. I’ve shared my favourites with you here.

Food and drink in Brooklyn

The Mezcal cocktails at Claro are sublime, says Knapp
Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
The outdoor garden at Court Street Tavern, one of the oldest bars in Brooklyn

Claro, in Gowanus

284 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Claro is the place to find an amazing Oaxacan-inspired menu and outstanding Mezcal cocktails. The courtyard is a hidden gem and the service is laid-back and friendly. (Website; Directions)

Court Street Tavern, in Carroll Gardens

449 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Court Street Tavern is one of Brooklyn’s oldest bars. It has a huge outdoor garden with cosy seating and it is a welcoming setting for kids and adults alike for brunch or dinner. Additionally, they broadcast sports or major events from TVs in the garden, and they have live music and even an ice-skating rink in the winter. (Website; Directions)

Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
A big bowl of deliciousness at Pasta Louise . . . 
Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
. . . a restaurant that opened during the pandemic and quickly become one of Knapp’s favourites

Pasta Louise, in Park Slope

803 Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

My new Friday night go-to. They opened during the pandemic and serve delicious fresh pasta and homemade sauces. The owner has an inspiring story and they are amazing supporters of the local community, so I love supporting them in return. (Website; Directions)

Blue Sky Bakery, in Park Slope

53 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

A favourite breakfast stop since 2010; I love their constantly changing variety of freshly made muffins. Insider tip: arrive early because they sell out quickly, and close at 2pm. (Website; Directions)

For a night out in Manhattan

Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
The Greenwich Hotel is one of Knapp’s top spots in Manhattan . . . 
Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
. . . where the cocktails on offer are best enjoyed in the private courtyard © Max Burkhalter (2)

The Greenwich Hotel, in Tribeca

377 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013

A visit to this hotel is always top of my list. Its restaurant, Locanda Verde, offers a casual neighbourhood Italian taverna setting with delicious, rustic cuisine. Guests staying at the hotel can take advantage of the private courtyard, which is a beautiful leafy sanctuary in the heart of downtown. I visited The Greenwich Hotel last year for my wife’s birthday and enjoyed craft cocktails in the sophisticated Drawing Room and then popped outside to the courtyard, though it was a tad too cold in December. In warmer months, it is the ideal place to enjoy a drink outside. (Website; Directions)

A few family-outing ideas

I have two small children, age five and three, so I would be remiss to not share my family’s favourite places to play and explore. During the pandemic, finding space, fresh air and areas to expend the kids’ energy has been key.

Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
Brooklyn Bridge Park is always worth a quick playground stop for the kids . . .  © Jon Arnold Images/Alamy
Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
. . . while adults can enjoy views of the bridges and Manhattan skyline © Cultura Creative/Alamy

Brooklyn Bridge Park

A spectacular waterfront location. It is perfect for a picnic, riding bikes and scooters and a quick playground stop. From Brooklyn Bridge Park we often jump on the ferry to Governors Island to go explore with the kids. The ferry is a hit with little ones and the island activities, such as the giant slides, playgrounds and museums and galleries make for a fun day trip. (Website; Directions)

Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket

Prospect Park West and Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

On Saturdays we often swing by the Greenmarket to pick out locally sourced fruits, vegetables, breads and cheeses. And we’ll sometimes even let the kids pick a cookie or sweet treat from one of the delicious baked-goods vendors. (Website; Directions)

Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
Local produce can be purchased at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket . . .  © Richard Levine/Alamy
Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
. . . that takes place each Saturday near the entrance to Prospect Park © Hemis/Alamy

Brooklyn neighbourhood strolls

A walk down the quaint, brownstone-lined streets of Park Slope is a regular activity for my family. However, during the pandemic we also started to spend time in Greenwood Heights. This neighbourhood boasts a rich history, beautiful architecture and has retained much of its original character. For New York history buffs, make a stop at the Green-Wood Cemetery. There are many famous people buried there, including Leonard Bernstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Charles Ebbets.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a must-visit when it is in bloom . . .  © Eric Pasqualli/Alamy
Leading Hotels of the World chief Shannon Knapp on the best of Brooklyn and beyond
. . . and offers 52-acres of grounds to explore © Getty Images/iStockphoto

We love exploring this urban botanic garden, starting in the spring when the flowers begin to bloom and then again in the summer when everything is in full bloom. Its 52 acres provide endless exploration, and the educational activities for kids are a great way to connect with nature within NYC. (Website; Directions)

My list of places to experience in New York could go on and on. There is something extraordinary about the city that is alluring to those that live here and worldwide travellers — the culture, the pace, the vitality and the endless opportunities for discovery. Though the pandemic has certainly challenged New York — and cities around the world — I have no doubt it is bouncing back stronger than ever. 

Shannon Knapp is the president and CEO of The Leading Hotels of the World

Share your Brooklyn secrets with us in the comments

For more stories like this, visit ft.com/globetrotter, or follow FT Globetrotter on Instagram at @FTGlobetrotter


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