Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Though not ubiquitous in the U.S. -- besides Boston, the only other location is in Pasadena (with two new branches opening in New York and Chicago in 2013) -- the Langham is synonymous with old-world luxury overseas. The brand dates back to Victorian England, and indeed, a certain regal, old-fashioned elegance pervades the tony Boston outpost -- from the dark velvet furniture and in the marble lobby to the original N.C. Wyeth and framed that hang in some of the banquet rooms. Vestiges of its former life as a Federal Reserve bank are subtly present throughout the 1922 property. The bank's original iron seal was unearthed from the floor during a recent renovation of the hotel's stylish eatery, BOND, and all of the guest rooms located on the second floor, where the bank's main lobby used to be, have soaring ceilings. Hallways are lined with antique black-and-white photos depicting the building's banking past. But the hotel does not feel dated, as it routinely updates interiors. The lobby received a major renovation in 2012, updating decor and furniture and adding a business center and exclusive Champagne lounge, The Reserve. The chic entrance level is now a destination in its own right.
The hotel's neighboring blocks pretty much shut down after working hours, but the Langham's on-site restaurant/lounge, BOND, turns into one of the area's few happening nightlife spots after dark. The hotel's fabulous Chuan Spa, which gives the Mandarin Oriental and Boston Harbor Hotel spas a run for their money with its unusual menu of traditional Chinese-medicine-influenced treatments, is complemented by a huge fitness center featuring a sparkling lap pool and Jacuzzi.
Guest rooms are elegantly decorated with Georgian furniture and rich fabrics that evoke an air of Victorian-inspired luxury, but modern touches are hit or miss. Standard rooms are pretty small (270 square feet) but when I stayed, there were no flat-screen TVs. Now all rooms have flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi (for a fee). And though the service is friendly and attentive from check-in to checkout -- it's not as exhaustive or anticipatory as some of the other luxury hotels in town like the Eliot Suite Hotel or the Four Seasons.
The only real drawback to the Langham is it's yawn-worthy location in the heart of Boston's Financial District. For equally plum lodging at a more desirable address, consider 15 Beacon, just across from the Boston Common, or the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Copley Square. The Omni Parker House possesses a more impressive historic pedigree and closer proximity to the Boston Common and Freedom Trail attractions, but the Langham's lavish Georgian-style rooms, luxurious amenities, and overall gilded elegance put it head and shoulders above that downtown competitor.
A few small missteps keep service from achieving perfection.
Genteel, attentive service is apparent from the moment one steps inside of the gold-toned marble lobby. Uniformed valets and porters whisked my luggage to my room before I'd even gotten out of my cab. And though I arrived several hours before check-in, I was not only taken to my quarters immediately, but upgraded to an Executive Room. The hotel makes an effort to extend thoughtful touches like a platter of fresh apples laid out at the front desk and baskets of warm towels in the lobby for guests caught in an afternoon downpour.
A few minor mechanical problems (my room key and in-room thermostat weren't working properly) took a bit longer than they should have to be remedied, but didn't detract too much from the generally excellent caliber of service. One thing to note: Clocks were approximately eight minutes fast inside the hotel, which might be convenient if you're worried about making it to your morning meeting on time, but is exceedingly annoying when you ask for a 7:30 a.m. wakeup call and realize you got cheated out of nearly 10 minutes of shut-eye.
In the heart of the stony, grey Financial District, but an easy walk to Faneuil Hall
The Langham is in the heart of the Financial District, just across the street from the charming Post Office Square Park. It is a convenient location for travelers doing business in the area, but a bit boring for leisure travelers, who will need to walk a ways for dining options and most of the major attractions. At night, and even more so on the weekends, the area empties out as the office workers go home.
Newly renovated and pristine, though standard rooms are tight
Rooms are stately, comfortable and spotless, with richly colored upholstery and heavy wooden furniture, proffering a Colonial-luxe aesthetic. However, note that while all 2nd-floor guest rooms feature exceptionally high ceilings, streetside rooms on the 2nd floor are located just above the hotel's entrance, and are thus exceedingly noisy.
The hotel's standout amenity is its Chuan Body + Soul Spa and its attached, state-of-the-art fitness center (open to the public for membership and free to hotel guests). An extensive spa menu, which employs traditional Chinese treatments based on an individual's "element" (metal, wood, water, earth, fire), can be arranged directly with the spa or through the concierge. A heated indoor lap pool, Jacuzzi, and a outfitted with a completes the full-service offerings.
Family-friendly features are few and feel slapdash.
The Langham's location in the heart of the staid Financial District -- not to mention its hushed, grand lobby and nightclubby restaurant/bar -- make it more the provenance of business travelers than families carting around a gaggle of kids. And though there is an indoor pool, it's largely used by adults for laps. The touted kids' check-in (which features a special staircase rolled up to the front desk and a kids' registration card) feels more like a gimmick than a useful feature.
Small pets can stay for a $100 fee.
Pets under 50 pounds are allowed at the Langham for a fairly standard one-time fee and can be left alone in rooms, barring notable disturbances. No other special amenities are offered, but dog-walking can be arranged via the concierge.
Two on-site eateries, one a high-design restaurant/nightclub
BOND, the upscale lunch and dinner spot, is a visually impressive space that transforms into one of the area's few lively nightspots after dark (and according to one local, caters to older professional women and the young men who love them). Designed by Jeffery Beers (the man behind the interiors of the Asian fusion restaurant inside New York's Gansevoort Hotel), the restaurant makes the most of its bank history. Beautiful mirrored ceilings and chandeliers, original molding and thick stone walls fit for a bank vault mix with modern flourishes like huge abstract renderings of 10-, 20-, and 100-dollar bills. Food is a solid amalgam of Bostonian, Asian, and Mediterranean dishes that run the gamut from the requisite clam chowder to yellowfin tuna tataki salad.
A former Federal Reserve bank turned luxury hotel in the grey, sterile Financial District, the Langham boasts immaculate, distinctively Bostonian rooms (with flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi), spot-on service, and a stellar spa, but significant street noise keeps it from attaining perfection.