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B&B: Bed-and-Brownstones

Sunday, May 7, 2006

While lodging bargains abound in Brooklyn, remember that the borough is huge. As the locals are fond of noting, if Brooklyn were a separate city it would be the country's fourth largest. So check our locater map before booking; if you want to be minutes from Manhattan, focus on the downtown, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens areas. But if you don't mind a 30-minute subway ride to get to Times Square, you'll find cheaper rates -- as well as peace and quiet -- in outlying neighborhoods like Midwood. Here are our picks for some of the best lodgings in the borough. Note: All B&B rates include breakfast. Unless otherwise noted, rates do not include taxes.

1. Akwaaba Mansion offers a bit of Mother Africa in Brooklyn's multicultural Stuyvesant Heights, with its concentration of stately brownstones along leafy streets. All four guest rooms have been renovated with African or African American themes, with masks, old family photos and artwork from Ghana and other countries. The owners have added such modern features as whirlpools, but thankfully retained the 14-foot ceilings, fireplaces and other period details of this impressive 1860s Italianate home. Pluses include a spacious, secluded yard, front porch, breakfast and a selection of nearby cafes and restaurants. The Utica Avenue station, where the A train stops, is four blocks away.

347 MacDonough St., 866-466-3855, http://www.akwaaba.com. Rates: Monday to Thursday, $150 per night; Friday to Sunday, $165.

2. Travelers who might otherwise stay at the Waldorf Astoria would find the Bed & Breakfast on the Park equally grand -- and slightly cheaper. An impressive collection of European oil paintings and antiques, carved oak woodwork, art nouveau lamps and other fine details grace the parlor, dining room and bedrooms. The stately seven-bedroom Victorian building is just across from Prospect Park and a few minutes' walk from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. A full breakfast is served promptly at 9. The formal atmosphere -- or snootiness? -- might be a turnoff for folks who just want to kick back. The Prospect Park subway is three blocks away.

113 Prospect Park W., 718-499-6115, http://www.bbnyc.com. Rates: $155 to $300 per night, including a 10 percent service charge.

3. Lovers of Victoriana will go gaga over Baisley House: The restored 1845 brownstone in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood is tasseled, draped and decorated to a fare-thee-well, with statuary, clocks, screens, stained glass, portraits (Queen Elizabeth, Pope John XXIII) and myriad other fripperies, gewgaws and doodads. The three guest rooms upstairs (one single, two doubles) are similarly ornate and share a bathroom. There's a lovely rear garden where breakfast is served when weather permits. Added attraction: Actress Susan Hayward lived here as a child (she was born in Flatbush). Amenities include cable TV, VCR, phone and air conditioning. The Carroll Street subway station is two blocks away.

294 Hoyt St., 718-935-1959, http://www.virtualcities.com/ons/ny/n/nyn1901.htm . Rates: $134 to $192 per night, including taxes.

4. For a chain property, the Best Western Gregory Hotel in the residential Bay Ridge neighborhood has an unusually personable staff, quick to offer directions and dining tips. Although 30 minutes from Times Square, it's only a couple of blocks from a concentration of decent eateries and bars. The 70-room hotel is housed in a well-kept brick building on a tree-lined block. The rooms are small and basic but adequate for an overnight or two. A complimentary self-serve breakfast of bagels, coffee and juices is provided. The 86th Street subway station is two blocks away.

8315 Fourth Ave., 800-780-7234, http://www.bestwestern.com. Rates: Generally from $186 double.

5. With a dog running about and the owner dishing out tea and advice, Bibi's Garden Bed & Breakfast feels like a family home. The six bedrooms, a bit plain, are nonetheless comfortably furnished. A couple of the rooms have private baths, but most are shared. Laundry facilities and a computer with Internet access are available. The room configurations make Bibi's convenient for two or three couples traveling together. The Avenue H subway station, two blocks away, gets you to Times Square in 30 minutes.

762 Westminster Rd., 718-434-3119, http://www.bibisgarden.net. Rates: $115 to $172 a night, with 10 percent off for weekly stays.

6. Dekoven Suites, on a quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac in the West Midwood neighborhood, is a little slice of suburbia in New York, complete with plenty of on-street parking. If you're looking for a homey spot to remind you of Silver Spring or Arlington, this is it. The three-story Victorian house has a bright, roomy kitchen and features a downstairs apartment with separate entrance, private bath and laundry facilities, a bedroom with walk-in closet, a sitting area and full refrigerator. Amenities include TV, telephone, hair dryer and Ping-Pong. Thirty minutes by subway to downtown Manhattan (the Newkirk Avenue station is a couple of blocks away).

30 Dekoven Ct., 718-421-1052. Rates: $115 to $125 per night for two people, plus $25 for each additional person.

7. Eve, the amiable owner of Eve's Bed and Breakfast in West Midwood , goes the extra mile as host, asking guests about food likes and dislikes and designing breakfasts accordingly. She offers three apartments: a one-bedroom and a pair of two-bedrooms. The decor in each is a stylish but understated combination of antiques and Ikea-style pieces. All include seating areas and kitchens, a plus for a couple with children in tow. The fridges are stocked daily with breakfast and snack foods. The Avenue H station is two blocks away; it's about 30 minutes to Manhattan.

751 Westminster Rd., 347-256-2577, http://www.virtualcities.com/ons/ny/n/nyn1902.htm . Rates: $125 for two, $40 for each additional person. Two-night minimum.

8. The Foy House Garden Suite, said to be the oldest B&B in Brooklyn, is a classic Edwardian townhouse on one of the best blocks in Park Slope, between Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park; it's near the Brooklyn Museum, a fabulous mini-Metropolitan Museum that should be on any visitor's agenda. The Victorian-style garden suite, available only by the week, has a private entrance two steps down from the sidewalk. The bedroom opens onto a patio and garden. There's a parlor with fireplace, fully equipped kitchen, private bath, cable TV and VCR.

819 Carroll St., 718-636-1492. Rates: $179 per night (seventh night free), including taxes.

9. With its helpful owners and unhurried pace, the Loralei B&B instantly feels familiar and welcoming. Two suites on the second floor of this spacious home are available for guests. The decor is a tasteful mix of antiques and modern; one two-bedroom suite is suitable for a family of three (children 15 and over are welcome). Amenities include fireplaces, TVs, private bathrooms and round-the-clock tea and hot chocolate. From the Newkirk Avenue subway station, three blocks away, it's 30 minutes to Times Square. Quiet Argyle Road, a side street in a close-knit neighborhood, has ample street parking.

667 Argyle Rd., 646-228-4656, http://www.loraleinyc.com. Two night minimum. Rates: $125 to $150 per night for two people, $35 more for additional person.

10. If your taste leans more toward spiffy corporate high-rises, fear not, Brooklyn has one. The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge is the only full-service hotel in Brooklyn, with an on-site restaurant and bar, business center, spacious beige-y rooms, beds with 300-thread-count linens, well-lighted work areas and up-to-date bathrooms (alas, no lotion in the amenities basket when we visited). A 24-story expansion with 280 guest rooms is in the works, for a total of 656. There's no lobby lounge, but the Archives Bar has Starbucks in the morning and a friendly Irish bartender at night. Rooms have coffee makers, irons, hair dryers and high-speed Internet access (the $12.95-per-day fee also covers local and long-distance telephone calls); there's a fitness center and indoor swimming pool. The downtown area is not Brooklyn's most charming, but it's an easy walk to Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and other appealing neighborhoods. About a five-minute subway ride from Manhattan, with nine major lines within one block.

333 Adams St ., 888-436-3759, http://www.marriott.com. Rates start at $229 double, although we booked a room for $189 in February. Rates are high for Brooklyn, but a lot cheaper than a comparable property would cost in Manhattan.

11. Saints and Sinners Bed and Breakfast (so named because it's next to a former church) is in Cobble Hill, a cute neighborhood of brownstones, antiques shops and restaurants. The homey, 19th-century Federal-style brick rowhouse has a bright, plant-filled living room/sitting area and five working fireplaces. The three third-floor bedrooms (two doubles, one single, all with twin beds and a shared bath) are clean, light and airy; two have marble fireplaces, and the back bedroom overlooks a large garden. It's 20 minutes by subway to Manhattan on the F train, with two stops (Bergen Street and Carroll Street) five or six blocks away.

54 Stro ng Pl., 718-855-9614, http://www.saintsandsinnersbedandbreakfast.com. Rates: $ 115 per night single, $145 double, including tax es .

12. The seven guest rooms at Union Street B&B are small; most could use a fresh coat of paint or wallpaper, and all come with shared baths. Still, the mood of the place is youthful and lively and the decor is quaint. But the draw here is the location. Housed in a pleasant Victorian brownstone in residential Carroll Gardens, it's a block and a half from the Carroll Street station, an easy walk from restaurant-lined Smith Street and about 20 minutes by subway to midtown Manhattan.

405 Union St., 718-852-8406, http://www.unionstbrooklynbandb.com. Singles are $100 a night, doubles $150; three-night minimum.

-- Gary Lee and K.C. Summers

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