If you're passing through, here's what to do. A guide to Brooklyn, New York for time poor travellers
Ho 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Conveniently located right beside the Dumbo waterside, with easy access to both Brooklyn and Manhattan, the lofty new 1 Hotel wears its eco credentials with pride. You'll find handy iPads for ordering room service (no paper menus here), recycling boxes in your room, reusable bottles of vetiver-scented soap and a timer to help you to avoid wasting water in the shower. The 194-room hotel is also perfectly placed for exploring the playgrounds and urban activities of the excellent Brooklyn Bridge Park - on foot or by bike. In truth, there is only so far any luxury hotel can be truly environmentally friendly, but there are plenty of other points here, too. Rooms reference the area's industrial warehouse history - wire bed frames, corrugated-leather headboards and carpets designed to look like concrete - but it is the mesmerising views of the East River and its constant flow of trade boats and ferries that are really show-stopping. The (hemp) beds are as comfortable as any in the city and the service, as with many US hotels, is brilliant. The recently opened rooftop bar, with a view all the way to the Statue of Liberty, is a new Brooklyn hotspot and, in the autumn, a Haybarn Spa launches at the hotel. All of which adds up to an original identity, straddling that much needed middle ground between edgy hipster vibe and snooty upscale comfort.
Doubles from $350 a night;
It seems appropriate that chef Greg Baxtrom chose Prospect Heights as the location for his first restaurant. This neighbourhood of wide, brownstone-lined streets feels unpretentious yet refined, thanks to its range of cultural institutions and proximity to leafy Prospect Park. Olmsted, which opened last year and is named after the park's architect, fits right in. Occupying a tiny space among the independent shops and bars of Vanderbilt Avenue, it may look like any other neighbourhood joint - brick walls, simple wooden furniture, a long bar - but there are few other similarities. Greg's culinary credentials (he was previously at Alinea in Chicago, considered by some to be the world's best restaurant) are evident across an inventive menu crafted from local ingredients - many of them grown in the restaurant's own tiny garden. Locals go wild for the popcorn monkfish, which elevates the starter to an utterly moreish art form, and every dish includes lesser-known ingredients such as uni (the edible part of a sea urchin) or bottarga (preserved fish roe). Perhaps its most memorable dish is the upscale take on an American camping snack, the s'more. There can be few more charming dessert experiences than being taken outside, wrapped in a blanket and given your own mini brazier along with graham crackers, marshmallows and a bar of Hershey's to create your own masterpiece.
Atlantic Avenue, one of Brooklyn's main thoroughfares, is a half-hour walk from the hotel and a great place to find vintage homewares. There are several antique shops along this two-mile stretch of road, but committed hunters should head for Horseman Antiques, a huge cavern of a shop filled with furniture and ornamental bric-a-brac. While you're here, check out The Primary Essentials across the road. This small but exquisitely curated boutique was founded by interior designer Lauren Snyder and sells a careful edit of pared-down table linens, vases and stationery.
Brooklyn is bigger than you might think (if it seceded from the rest of New York, it would be the country's fourth largest city) so exploring on two wheels is a great way to get the lie of the land while still feeling part of the action. does organised or bespoke tours of the area on sturdy bikes, made locally (of course) by Priority Bicycles, and led by personable young guides with infectious enthusiasm. Routes show off the area's diversity, encompassing everything from architecturally significant buildings and cult shops to artisan bakeries and religious sites - all alongside a smattering of jokes, history and social commentary. A day to remember.