Spend a Night in the Storied Home of Life Magazine

Local artwork and a basement speakeasy are highlights at this NoMad district newcomer.

The original facade of the Life Hotel.

Long before the digital era, the newly reborn Life Hotel, a stately 10-story Beaux-Arts structure by the firm that designed the New York Public Library, Carrère and Hastings, was home to the iconic Life magazine. Now, the building that cofounder Henry Luce, staff writers, and cover illustrator Norman Rockwell once roamed, woos budget-savvy travelers under a new guise courtesy of developer David Mitchell and legendary restaurateur Steve Hanson. Wary of destroying a piece of Manhattan history, local designer Tara Oxley was also cautious not to strip off too much of the original character. “Peeling away the layers to the existing craftsmanship, like the molding in ceilings and the wooden handrails, we wanted to take the traditional envelope and smatter it with modern,” she says.

A guest room.

Aesthetically, the 98 white-on-white rooms pay homage to the building’s heritage with wrought-iron bed frames, wooden floors, and brass fixtures. Hand-painted framed quotes—an nod to New York artist Curtis Kulig, known best for his “Love Me” campaign—are among close to 200 works from artists such as Julian Rapp, Ari Lankin and Joseph Meloy. Bathrooms are kitted out with opaque glass doors, vintage subway tiling, and showers stocked with Lather bath amenities. The hallway corridors feature small seating areas where a series of Steven Laxton’s photography called “El Salvador Circus” is displayed. The editors of Life would have no doubt approved of the communal lobby tables from ABC Home and the dark cognac leather sofas where guests fill up on Brooklyn Roasting Company’s coffee.

Be on the lookout for a forthcoming basement bar—a one-time speakeasy unearthed during the renovation—and a restaurant helmed by chef Michael Vignola that will offer up wood-fired dishes, a signature dry-aged burger, and what promises to be highly touted roast chicken.; rates from $249

All Stories