Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Langham Hotel Boston

27 Nov 2006 by Tom Otley

What's it like?

In a city with over 350 years of history, the Langham plays its part, being a conversion of the granite and limestone 1922 Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Opened originally as a Le Meridien in 1981, the Langham has an old-world charm that sets it apart from new five-star rivals such as the recently opened Westin Boston Waterfront and the Intercontinental.

The Langham is spotless and everything works perfectly well, but there are big plans for an interior renovation. First up is a new and larger gym on the third floor; an improvement of the stately lift system; a new bar on the ground floor; and a spa in the basement. On a broader note, Langham has big expansion plans from its current seven properties, aiming for 24 by 2015, including new US properties in New York, San Francisco and Chicago.

When it comes to service, it is as good as you would expect from this five-star group. A request for a jogging map from the concierge early one morning elicited a detailed description of the route I should take along the river and the views I would enjoy on the return leg, and he was right in every respect.

Where is it?

In the centre of Boston's financial district, a minute's walk from the almost completed Rose Kennedy Greenway. Some rooms overlook the small Norman B Leventhal Park in Post Office Square next to the hotel.

How many rooms?

325, including 16 suites. There are 153 different room configurations as a result of the historical nature of the property. The bank was originally six stories high, and when it was converted into a hotel in the late 1980s, a further three stories were added with a sloping glass Mansard roof.

Room facilities

All guestrooms have a double turndown service, extremely fast (100mbps) wired broadband access, costing US$10 for 24 hours, and the signature Langham Blissful Bed. The recently-renovated 147sqm presidential suite on the seventh floor costs US$2,000 per night, but you get to take (legally) home the Langham bathrobes (that normally cost US$90).

Restaurants and bars

Café Fleuri offers breakfast, brasserie-style lunch and dinner, as well as an extensive afternoon tea menu – a Langham signature at all of its hotels.

The restaurant also has seasonal menus to attract the local market – necessary because Boston has many fine restaurants to tempt guests away from their hotel. From September until June there's a weekly Chocolate Bar on Saturdays, with fresh fruit, waffles, made-to-order chocolate crepes and 50 desserts.

For drinks, the Julien Bar & Lounge's interior dates back to the original bank, with gold leaf-edged ceilings, wingback chairs, and a gold and burgundy colour scheme. The restored murals by artist NC Wyeth (father of the painter Andrew Wyeth) add to the history of the room, as does the live piano music played every evening. It's a fabulous space but slightly awkward as a bar, although the staff make up for that with their friendliness. In time, the bar will move downstairs and this room will become similar in use to the next door Governor's Room, which is used for private meetings, breakfasts and dinners. The room is home to an exhibition of antique maps of New England and Canada. Note also that the main room adjoining the bar is currently only used for private functions.

The restaurant and bar are best reached by taking the lift down to the second floor and following the signs that indicate wheelchair access; otherwise it's down to the lobby and walking through to the back of the building before ascending back up to the second floor. Another anomaly of the renovation of this former bank.

Business and meeting facilities

There is a good choice of meeting rooms and a ballroom, but no business centre. The concierge and reception staff can help with printing, and the hotel shop has a printer.

Leisure facilities

The hotel has a health club and gym, and a covered and heated pool, which had to be hoisted by crane into its place in the centre of the building.

Verdict

Boston has no shortage of five-star hotels, from the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons to the new openings of the Westin and Intercontinental. The Langham remains hard to beat, however, for its prime position in the centre of the small but influential financial area and, coincidentally, only a short walk from the new Greenway area that had been cleared as a result of the Big Dig 's completion.

Prices

Internet rates for a midweek stay in early December were US$265 for a moderate queen room and US$355 for a deluxe king room.

Contact

Langham Hotel Boston,250 Franklin Street, Boston MA 02110, tel +1 617 451 1900, langhamhotels.com.

Tom Otley

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