Williamsburg’s Wild West

Translating beatnik ranch life from country to city leaves Katie Nelson ready to spend summer at home. She explores Brooklyn’s most free-spirited new venue.

Stepping through the doors of 111 Powers Street on a muggy spring afternoon we were instantly transported to another world. In the heart of Williamsburg lies Urban Cowboy, the insanely successful and creative venture from Lyon Porter which has aptly been deemed “an oasis in Brooklyn.”  On one of those afternoons where you want to be anywhere other than an overly air-conditioned building in steamy Manhattan, Urban Cowboy was a welcomed respite. It felt worlds away just two stops into Brooklyn on the L train.

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The inspiration to open Urban Cowboy as a bed and breakfast, instead of renting the space out as apartments as Lyon (pronounced “lion”) originally planned, came from a trip to the Nicaraguan surf camp/artists’ colony Maderas Village. The energy he felt at Maderas cemented the decision to have a shared living space, an experience that’s lacking in luxury hospitality. With its earthy textures, worn leather couch, Aztec throws, fresh baked pastries, communal bar, common living room and kitchen, Urban Cowboy has a way of turning strangers into friends. It is a breath of fresh air in the ultra-lux New York hospitality scene with daily farmhouse-style breakfast spreads and Sunday night dinners, which feature live music and rotating culinary themes (clam bakes; barbecues).

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We couldn’t get enough of the refurbished townhouse with its rustic-chic design. Through two raised garage doors which open up to the main parlour adorned in exposed brick walls and original pine floors, we were met by former model-turned-innkeeper (or Director of Cultural Curation in Urban Cowboy lingo), Jersey Sparks. Jersey was fresh faced, barefoot and incredibly welcoming, the perfect combination to make you feel right at home away from home.

The three rooms in the main house have cathedral ceilings with gorgeous hand painted bull horn wallpaper, Edison-bulb lighting fixtures, vintage steamer trunks and reclaimed wood tables giving the inn its character and a pleasant weathered feel. Lyon has compared his design aesthetic to his favourite leather jacket: the more worn the better. The freestanding Adirondack inspired cabin just behind the communal outdoor area which is equipped with a hot tub and brand new sauna has stacks of chopped fire logs to mark the entrance.  The Kanoono Cabin, Urban Cowboy’s pride and joy, is outfitted with a king size natural Adirondack wood frame bed, floating claw foot tub, wood burning pot belly stove and kitchen.  It is the perfect luxury campout in the city that never sleeps.

Things are moving at a rapid pace for these cowboys.  Urban Cowboy #2 has found a home in Nashville and is already being inundated with reservation requests even though doors have yet to open.

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