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Life Hotel debuts in Nomad’s old LIFE magazine building

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Rooms at the refurbished hotel start at $249/night

Life Hotel is open at 19 West 31st Street

A building designed by by Carrère and Hastings—the firm that built the New York Public Library’s 42nd Street branch and the Frick, among other NYC icons—has reopened as a swanky hotel that showcases the building’s long history. Built in 1895 at 19 West 31st Street, between Broadway and Fifth Avenue, this was first home to LIFE Magazine until 1936. (That history inspired the lodging’s name: it’s known as the Life Hotel.)

In 1965 the building became the Herald Square Hotel, hosting everyone from Norman Rockwell, Charles Gibson and John Ames Mitchell. The family who ran the hotel sold the building to its latest owner, Mitchell Holdings, for $38.5 million in 2015.

Here, they brought on designer Tara Oxley to restore everything from wood moldings to the building’s original marble flooring. The historic architecture was balanced with contemporary design, and the hotel’s 98 rooms have high ceilings, wood floors with exposed concrete, and the original moldings.

Several New York-based artists were also commissioned to create nearly 200 pieces of work for the guest rooms. Rates start at $249 a night.

The hotel boasts a 18-seat lobby bar and lounge that serves wine, beer and snacks in the afternoons and evenings. (In the mornings, it’s where guests have continental breakfast.)

Life Restaurant is expected to open soon on the ground floor, with the chef Michael Vignola (of Strip House, Aquavit, and The Modern) at the helm. But here’s the coolest amenity: a basement bar will soon open and highlight the building’s history, as it was rumored to have been used as a speakeasy by LIFE staffers during prohibition.