Exceptional Hotel Reinvention: The James New York Becomes ModernHaus SoHo

Images by Nicolas Koenig

When the James Hotel opened in SoHo in 2009, it breathed some new life into an arguably sputtering NYC nightlife scene, as clubs like Misshapes and Motherfucker faded into the history books, and the West Chelsea scene was definitively dying off. Indeed, its then-brand-new poolside rooftop bar Jimmy, overseen by eminent nighttime impresario David Rabin, had the distinct feeling of possibility about it – and was quite the scene virtually every night.

Fast forward twelve years, and New York nightlife now faces the perilous question of how to recover from fifteen months of devastating pandemic shutdown. Helpfully, Jimmy is back – still under Rabin’s watch, and with a reimagined space inspired by Picasso’s Blue Period – but it will be part of a totally new hotel. Indeed, the James has been rebirthed as the more artfully monikered ModernHaus SoHo, which opened earlier this month at that same conspicuous corner of Grand Street and 6th Avenue.

The style lines are noticeably cleaner all the way around, with interior designer Melissa Bowers (Faena Miami Beach, Casa Faena) drawing stylistic inspiration from the Bauhaus movement to an overall effect of slick, zen elegance. This allows for the eye to be captured more decisively by the hotel’s considerable art collection, which spans from modern to contemporary, and includes pieces by Calder, Kaws, Hans Hartung, George Condo, Harland Miller, Hans Hofmann, Nicolas Party, and even that exalted Outsider Art impresario Jean Dubuffet.

But despite the temptation to spend hours gawping at the art or the skyline views through floor-to-ceiling windows in each of the rooms, this address has long been a social/epicurean one. And ModernHaus also comes complete with Michelin-Star power, with Rabin and venerable chef George Mendes (who earned that distinction at his Flatiron foodie temple Aldea) lording over the hotel’s stunningly realized Veranda restaurant. Complete with retractable glass roof (Philip Johnson’s hallowed Glass House was an inspiration), it has a lush, greenhouse aesthetic, perfectly complemented by its market vegetable driven menu – though dishes like Whole Roasted Branzino and Charcoal Grilled Piri-Piri Chicken are also on offer.

And there’s yet still more to come, as later this summer the cleverly named Jumpin Jacks will open at the hotel as a cool, coffee-connoisseur spot by day, morphing into an intimate lounge as the evening hours commence. And we do expect that intimate socializing will have very much returned by then.

So yes, the timing of the arrival of ModernHaus SoHo could not be more ideal, as Gotham tries to regain its considerable nightlife mojo. Look for us on the roof.

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