The two-mile-long Roosevelt Island, strategically sitting in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, has long been overlooked by travelers, except for the occasional visitor riding over by aerial tram. But now it’s luring tourists with its first hotel.
Graduate Hotels, the campus-inspired boutique hotel collection that launched in 2014, will be making its New York City debut with a new property on the island opening on June 1, CNN reported. The hotel, which will be the company’s 29th location, will be tethered to Cornell Tech, the Ivy League university’s city campus that “fuses technology with business and creative thinking.”
The 224-room, 18-floor hotel will be accessible by sea, land, and air, with transportation options including the NYC Ferry, Roosevelt Island Tramway, F subway train, and car. Even better, the rooms all promise “unobstructed views of the New York skyline from every window,” according to the hotel’s website.
“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,” Graduate Hotels president David Rochefort, who also happens to be a Cornell alum, told CNN.
The entrance will feature a 13-foot statue of Flyboy by artist Hebru Brantley, and the 5,000-square foot lobby will shelter floor-to-ceiling books. The hotel will also be pet-friendly (for an additional $25 a night) and have a 24-hour gym overlooking the Queensboro Bridge, as well as a rooftop bar with “major views.”
Tying in with the campus spirit, the hotel key cards will resemble Cornell University IDs, featuring famous alumni who have connections to the city, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Meanwhile, the in-room light fixtures grew out of a Cornell alum’s science project, and the lamp bases have the school’s fight song in Morse code.
Other elements honor Roosevelt Island, which was once closed to the public. The island has the remains of an insane asylum, where investigative reporter Nellie Bly went undercover as a patient for her 1887 series called “Ten Days in a Mad-House.” Mae West was also once imprisoned on the island on public obscenity charges. The hotel nods to both women in its design, CNN reported.
Though the island is technically part of Manhattan, the offbeat locale also hopes to lure guests for meetings, weddings, and events with its unique city perspective. Its 3,600 square feet of flexible meeting space, including both indoor and outdoor areas, can be supplemented by the adjacent Verizon Executive Education Center with 12,000 square feet.
Roosevelt Island was developed as a middle-class neighborhood, with the first apartments opening in 1975, The New York Times reported. It had a population of 14,000 in 2017. The area continues to develop affordable housing, with a new 21-story building also scheduled for occupancy this year.