3 -min. read

When it was just the Ace Hotel blazing the way back in 2010, it was hard for some to see the vision of NoMad—the neighborhood north of Madison Square Park—that has come to fruition. The news of a new boutique hotel here is no longer a surprise, but we’re still excited to see a newcomer join the ranks of the Ace, the NoMad, Arlo NoMad, Gansevoort Park and The Redbury New York—especially one in an historic building as beautiful as the Life Building.

The new Life Hotel—opening today—is located at 19 West 31st Street, with 98 rooms, a restaurant and bars taking the place of the live/work/playground where LIFE magazine writers and artists once held court.

Real-estate developer David Mitchell (who partnered with BR Guest Hospitality’s Stephen Hanson on the property) says the project was heavily influenced by the building’s past, with hopes that a similarly creative set will also lay their heads in the rooms above (where there were once apartments) and revel in a speakeasy bar in the basement.

As you would imagine with a building that dates to the late 1800s (one originally designed by the same firm that designed the New York Public Library), there are lots of original architectural details that have been restored in the new hotel, including moldings and marble floors. Naturally, all this history is paired with a more modern vision of the hotel experience, with a lobby that encourages co-working at a communal table and the promise of “industrial Wi-Fi.” (Nearby NYC Silicon Alley workers, take note!)

There’s more of that tech influence in Life Restaurant dining room, where the lighting is said to be reminiscent of a computer motherboard. Wood panels, eclectic art and mirrored inserts complete the mix of old and new design in the space. And the food? Chef Michael Vignola (formerly of Strip House, Aquavit and the Modern) will be in charge of a menu that hits all the right notes—local, seasonal, sustainable—and will draw on his own rooftop Chef’s Garden. Handcrafted cocktails are a given, and it’s a safe bet that the basement bar, accessed by a hidden staircase off the lobby (as well as from the street) will become one of the city’s newest hot spots.

Upstairs, the rooms and suites feature high ceilings, wood floors, exposed concrete and some beautiful pre-war molding details. From the photos, the elegance of the white-washed rooms with brass bed frames remind us of some of Sean Macpherson’s properties—in a good way. The mix of past and present continues with collections of poetry from the LIFE magazine heyday, and flat-screen TVs with Google ChromeCast functionality both on offer.

The Life Hotel is pet-friendly, and has a 24-hour fitness room with Peloton stationary bikes.

Rates start at $249 a night.


Rebecca Wallwork
Rebecca Wallwork is a writer based in Miami Beach, although you’ll also find her checking out the newest hotels in New York City. She is a former contributing editor to HotelChatter, and loves dogs and books as much as she does hotels.

We use cookies to improve your experience, by browsing this site you are agreeing to this. For more information, including how to disable these cookies, please see our privacy policy