The historic Beaux-Arts building at 88 Madison Avenue in New York City hasn’t exactly had nine lives, but we count — at the very least — three significant ones. Built in 1904, it operated as the moderately priced Hotel Seville for nearly 85 years. Harpo Marx, rumor has it, worked here as a bellhop, and rooms with shared bathrooms went for $1.50 per night. In the late 1980s, it was renovated and transformed into the Carlton Hotel; a decade later, superstar architect David Rockwell redesigned its lobby. The latest incarnation of this brick and terra cotta landmark comes in the form of the new the James New York - NoMad. Entirely reimagined, from the location of the lobby to the dining spaces, to the orientation of the rooms, this classic Manhattan address feels right in step with the bustling, quickly evolving neighborhood that surrounds it. Here’s our review.
With all traces of the old Carlton Hotel banished from the building, the new look inside the James is a contemporary riff on Midcentury Modern. Muted grays and blues in the rooms are punctuated by bright, geometric patterned throw pillows, curvy side chairs, and a gold-toned minibar unit that’s reminiscent of a radio or TV cabinet.
During your stay, you’ll be as likely to encounter locals as fellow travelers. You’ll find digital nomads haunting the bar, and especially the attractive lobby during the day, while a smartly dressed after-work crowd descends in droves in the evening.
Who Will Love It
If you’re itching to stay in a Manhattan neighborhood that’s in the midst of an energetic revival but is still utterly central in its location, this property is spot-on. You’ll feel like your mixing and mingling with real New Yorkers, and you’ll have easy access to the city’s most popular sights.
Who Might Not
The NoMad neighborhood, situated between the Empire State Building and the Flatiron Building, is exploding with new shops, eateries, and hotels. You may need to battle crowds — or at least endure a wait — for dinner, both in the neighborhood and in your own hotel.
Beyond the hotel’s stylish design, we also enjoyed having dinner at its ground floor restaurant, Scarpetta. Recently relocated here to a high-ceilinged space from its original spot in the Meatpacking District, this Italian restaurant is a New York City standby for excellent pastas and wine. We recommend the yellowtail crudo, the short rib and marrow agnolotti, and the restaurant's simple-but-satisfying signature, the tomato and basil spaghetti. Seville, the hotel bar, gives a nod to the property's original name and is a great place to grab a cocktail while you’re waiting for a table.
Coffee, tea, fresh fruit, and an afternoon wine and cheese reception are complimentary, as is wifi and use of the fitness center. You can also select one free snack item from your minibar for each day of your stay. When you book directly on the property’s web site, late check-out (2:00 p.m.) is included.
Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About
You’ll pay a mandatory $35 hotel facility fee per night, plus taxes.
How to Get a Deal
Always check the hotel’s web site. Its Special Offers section details savings at James Hotels properties throughout the U.S., including its hotels in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Booking at least 14 days in advance will secure you some savings, and being a member of AAA will earn you some additional perks, like a Starbucks gift card, a complimentary upgrade, and (very) late checkout at 4:00 p.m. Another tactic is to stay when weather cools off. January-March are slow months for New York City travel, and hotel deals abound. Expect to pay $200-$260 per night within that time frame, and up to $400 per night in the busy days of summer.
In the Neighborhood
The hotel’s location at the corner of 29th Street and Madison Avenue is a six-minute walk from the Empire State Building, or an eight-minute walk to the Flatiron Building and Madison Square Park. From here, you can get burgers at the original Shake Shack, take in some public art in the park, ride the elevator up to one of the neighborhood's many rooftop bars, or shop in a selection of stores along this more affordable stretch of Fifth Avenue. It's also within easy walking distance of popular sites like Eataly, Madison Square Garden, and Union Square.
Nearest Public Transit
The 4/5/6 and N/Q/R/W subway lines are within a few blocks of the hotel, and can quickly whisk you to Times Square, the museums of the Upper East Side, and sights in lower Manhattan like Wall Street and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
For a New York City stay that hits all the right notes — sleek design, a central location, a great restaurant — the James delivers.