Queens, rightfully, no longer elicits scorn from travelers and locals alike—especially Long Island City, where the subways first stop and artists have colonized with their studios as well as public art. Paper Factory Hotel, too, is a site for local artist’s work. This relatively new hotel encapsulates the area with its more-for-less attitude towards hospitality. The converted manufacturing plant of its namesake, this crafted industrial space has become a destination for backyard day-drinkers as it has large weddings.
Less dust and paint splatters than an actual studio loft, but the Paper Factory certainly used the same contractor. These halls and walls are par for the course of converted Long Island City factories: beware of snoring neighbors. Rooms are boxy and roomy, with large paned windows with views of Manhattan and the rest of the borough to the east. Each room has unique pieces of furniture finds, no two rooms are identical, which is perhaps the standout. In the deluxe categories, rooms comes equipped with vintage-look fridges and microwaves. Overall, the rooms look great, and flow is comfortable—but construction isn’t the durable fortress of Manhattan’s pre-war enclaves.
The bathrooms are a bit sterile and the same construction as the many “adult dorm” buildings that populate the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront. Luxury bath products and a tiled rain shower add a touch of luxe to this otherwise standard bathroom.
The Lobby is the heart of the hotel—with its latest restaurant and bar Lily Valley and its in-house coffee shop accessible at the front of the hotel. Waiting areas, meeting spaces and a converted indoor/outdoor lounge also compose the space. Reception and the hotel’s office sit at the back. Though there’s space and free wifi, the lobby has yet to develop into anything other than a waiting space.
The elevators in this hotel are bouncy and slow. Take the stairs instead.
This impressive fitness center that’s flooded with light and covered in brick is expansive with a wide variety of workout gear, from boxing bags to medicine balls to cardio machines.
Recently rebranded at Lily Valley, a pan-mediterranean take on fresh ingredients, the restaurant services all three meals a day. Be forewarned, the restaurant closes on the early side (at 11 p.m.) with the kitchen ending service around 10 p.m. At this time, there’s no in-room dining
The 36th St M and R station is steps away from the entrance, while the N and W stop at 39th Street is a few blocks away. Midtown Manhattan is only 15-minutes door-to-door. A few blocks from the center of Long Island City while culinary paradise of Astoria is only 20-30 minutes by walking.
Long Island City’s food scene is some of the most exciting in the city. Casa Enrique (10-minutes by car) has received a Michelin star for upscale take on Mexican classics. Crescent Grill (7-minutes on foot) is a fantastic farm-to-table joint that also has an art gallery attached. OF course, there’s the OG hipster eatery that started it all: M. Wells Steakhouse, a chop shop in a former diner space that drew snobby Manhattanites and too-cool Williamburgers out to slobber over these meat delights.
For a long time, Dutch Kills (15-minutes by walking) was the only place to get a serious drink around here. Now it’s near impossible to get into—but it’s still a wonderful ambiance and place to drink the night away. The Baroness (5-minutes walk) has the same cute-retro vibe at the hotel, and has a flush wine list that’s a bit more elevated than its environs. If Samba and cachaça is your thing, Beija Flor (5-minutes by walking) can transport you to the streets of Rio in no time.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Queens is cool—it’s not as flashy as Manhattan or artisanal as Brooklyn, but the culinary finds and the relaxed good times out here should be on every New York visitor’s agenda. Paper Factory is well-located to hop back into Manhattan or to crash after a day of MoMA PS1, SculptureCenter and M. Wells. The rooms are dressed with wonderful furniture finds and quite roomy for New York—especially when paying those lower Queens prices.