Roosevelt Island’s first hotel will open in June

Posted On Wed, March 31, 2021 By

Posted On Wed, March 31, 2021 By In Hotels, Roosevelt Island

All photos courtesy of Steve Freihon Photography

Roosevelt Island’s first hotel will open this summer as part of Cornell University’s new tech campus. Graduate Roosevelt Island rises 18 stories, contains 224 rooms, and boasts incredible views of the Manhattan skyline, Queensboro Bridge, and beyond. Opening June 1 and currently accepting reservations, the hotel aims to offer a “scholastic retreat” for the Cornell community and New York City visitors.

The hotel was designed by Stonehill Taylor and Snøhetta, the firm also behind the adjacent Verizon Executive Education Center. Managed by Highgate, Graduate Roosevelt Island features a ground-floor full-service restaurant, an indoor-outdoor rooftop bar and lounge overlooking Manhattan, and lots of flexible meeting space.

Inside, the design from Graduate Hotel’s in-house team draws on the history of Roosevelt Island and the innovative future the campus represents. A 13-foot statue of artist Hebru Brantley’s Flyboy greets guests in the lobby, a 5,000-square-foot space with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, reminiscent of a college library.

But unlike a college dorm room, the hotel rooms are spacious, bright, and come with perks from Malin + Goetz. As CNN first reported, the hotel key cards are designed to look like school IDs featuring well-known Cornell alums, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Rooms start at $219 per night.

“To be able to have a hotel in New York City still rooted to a campus, still rooted to a major university like Cornell … and really what is supposed to be the gateway to the tech industry for New York City, was a really unique opportunity for us,” David Rochefort, president of Graduate Hotels, told CNN. This is the 29th property for Graduate Hotels, which owns a collection of hotels in college towns across the country.

Located in the middle of the East River between Manhattan and Queens, Roosevelt Island has a unique history. Throughout the 19th century, the two-mile-long island, once known as Blackwell’s Island, housed a penitentiary and a number of health facilities, including the New York City Lunatic Asylum and a smallpox hospital, which was built to quarantine and treat people infected with the disease.

In 1875, the building was turned into a nurses’ dormitory and the smallpox hospital was moved to North Brothers Island. The structure was later abandoned by the city in the 1950s. While the Landmarks Preservation Commission declared it a city landmark in 1975, ruins of the original structure remain there today.

Phase one of Cornell’s tech and science campus opened in 2017 after the university won a competition launched by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In addition to the research, academic, and housing buildings, the plan called for an on-campus hotel to serve the university.

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All photos courtesy of Steve Freihon Photography

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