Besides the socially-acceptable abundance of butter and wine, my favorite part of our recent trip to the south of France was the quaint B&B we stayed at. I could have just spent the whole trip there. The experience that you get at a small B&B is like night and day compared to a big hotel. In the city, unfortunately, it’s hard to find. Don Matteson makes it possible with At Home in Brooklyn.
In the Spring of 2008, Don converted his gorgeous 3-story townhouse across the street from Prospect Park into a bed & breakfast.
“I found myself living in a townhouse in an ideal location that was too much house for one person. I was hesitant to sell, because I love it, but it just didn’t make sense to hold on until my daughter-in-law noted that everyone in Park Slope was always posting on the internet looking for places to put their parents. The neighborhood is expensive and most people live in small apartments so hosting guests is a problem. Four years later 80% of my guests are relatives of people who live here”, explains Don.
At Home in Brooklyn has four rooms ranging from $155-$345/night, every one of them beautifully furnished, comfortable and far from generic. From thread counts that go into 4-digits to flat screen TVs, they’ve got it, while keeping a down-to-earth homey feel. The backyard is an absolute haven in the middle of the city. Breakfast the dining room is just lovely and delicious.
My husband and I and our newborn baby were the first guests at the house while we were in between apartments. Don and his partner Marco were beyond accommodating and we felt truly at home, which was wonderful because during that short period we didn’t have one. Since then they’ve had all kinds of interesting guests. When asked who the most peculiar of the bunch has been, Don knows right away:
“My craziest guest so far has probably been Maki Kaji, the man from Tokyo who made Sudoku an international phenomenon. He comes to NY usually twice a year and loves our place because it’s close to the botanic garden where he participates in the annual cherry blossom festivities. He also loves having a big, private green space where he can smoke and enjoy a beer at the end of a long day. His company has created an entire series of mental games and brain-teasers so it’s always fun to have him around.”
Among the mammoth high-rises along 4th Avenue and Downtown Brooklyn, a few hotels have popped up recently. Tourists are starting to trickle to our borough, in part driven by the ridiculous prices of Manhattan hotels, and of course there’s the steady demand from visiting friends and relatives. But if your good friend from college stays at the Double Western, the hotel experience is going to be a forgettable transaction. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
“When most people think of a B&B they think rural — New England, beach towns, places where big hotels don’t have a big presence. I think there are more B&Bs in Brooklyn than elsewhere in the city because up until recently, there were almost no major hotels. The first was the downtown Marriott and when others saw what a killing they were making, they started flooding in. But they are still expensive and tend to be in neighborhoods where the zoning permits higher buildings, which means none in Park Slope. So, because of the zoning, the B&B is in a location that the hotels can only dream about.”
At Home in Brooklyn’s dream spot is 15 Prospect Park West, between President St. and Carroll St., in Park Slope. For more info, check out their website: athomeinbrooklyn.com