Skater’s high: Brooklyn Paper tests new rooftop rink in Williamsburg

A master in the ring.
Blades of glory: Brooklyn Paper reporter Kevin Duggan glides at high speeds around the Vale Rink, high above Williamsburg.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

You can skate in the sky!

A slick synthetic ice rink is now welcoming skaters on the 23rd floor of the William Vale hotel. The Vale Rink, which opened in late December on the rooftop of the swanky Williamsburg lodge, will offer Brooklynites a surface for skating and a dramatic skyline backdrop for the winter months.

Instead of ice, the rink uses Swiss-engineered synthetic panels called Glice, which Alpine scientists have designed to feel as close as possible to its frozen water counterpart. The surface does not need water, electricity, or cooling, which makes it easier to maintain and more environmentally friendly than traditional ice rinks, claims the company.

This reporter was eager to give the rooftop rink a try as soon as he heard about it.

On a chilly recent afternoon, I arrived at the Vale’s top floor. A heated tent offers space to relax on cozy sofas while sipping hot chocolate, coffee, or a hot toddy, but I was ready to go straight to the rink.

Admission costs $20 for adults and $12 for kids, which includes rental skates (you can bring your own skates, as long as they are sharp enough, but you will still pay the full admission). 

I signed a waiver and strapped on my bladed shoes, and was ready to go. I hadn’t gone ice skating for years, so I was off to a rocky start, flailing and struggling to stay upright, and providing ample amusement to photographer Caroline Ourso, who was watching me from the sidelines.

The fake ice looks just like the real thing, but feels harder and slightly more slippery. The blades of the skates do not cut into the material as deeply, but the surface is only two percent less glideable than a standard ice sheet, according to the company’s website

After a few minutes, I got the hang of gliding across the glice, and before I knew it I was transported back to my childhood, skating around the frozen lakes of the Swiss Alps.

But a quick look at the skyline reminded me that I was not slicing my way among snow-capped mountains, but was 200 feet above the streets of Williamsburg. Fortunately, visitors need not fear skating over the edge — the rink’s waist-high fence is located a safe six feet from the roof’s higher, more substantial glass edge at its narrowest point.

Kids unsure on their skates can sit on a cute plastic animal that looks like a whale and be pushed around — and I can attest that the beast can also hold an adult’s weight. 

Easy mode: Photographer Caroline Ourso pushes Duggan on the rink’s whale toy. Photo by Ayaka Hasegawa

The Vale Rink is definitely a fun experience, and it offers one of the borough’s most dramatic backdrops, which is sure to draw crowds with its highly-Instagrammable views.

Vale Rink at the William Vale [111 N. 12th St. at Wythe Avenue, 23rd floor, in Williamsburg, (718) 631-8400, www.thewilliamvale.com]. Open Wed–Thu, 2–10 pm; Fri, 2 pm–midnight; Sat, noon–midnight, and Sun, noon–10 pm. $20 ($12 for kids).