Pricey valet parking (less expensive over the weekend)
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.
Though not ubiquitous in the U.S., 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 China cabinets in the marble lobby to the original N.C. Wyeth paintings and framed antique maps 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.
Free newspaper delivered to room each morning; guests choose which one at check-in
"Flight Bites" boxed meals can be pre-ordered via in-room dining for (pricey) eating on the go, such as continental breakfast (breads and pastries, juice and coffee) or lunch takeout box (turkey club and Caesar salad)
Wake-up call service with the option of a follow-up call (but beware -- hotel clocks were nearly 10 minutes fast during my stay)
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.
The nearest stops on the T, Boston's subway system, are State Street and Aquarium Stations, both about a five-minute walk away.
Five-minute walk to Faneuil Hall, a historic marketplace and modern-day pedestrian mall
Twenty-minute T ride to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
A 15-minute walk to the 52-acre Boston Common, the country's oldest park and the start of the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, which passes through 16 historic landmarks
20-minute T ride to Harvard Square and the entrance to Harvard University
Comfortable 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.
Langham's signature Blissful mattresses are swathed in 300-thread-count cotton sheets and down pillows.
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 locker room outfitted with a sauna completes the full-service offerings.
Spa and pool hours are the same; signature treatment, the hourlong "Harmony Massage," is available
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.
At 270 square feet, standard Classic Rooms don't sleep more than two people; Superior and Deluxe Rooms are marginally bigger and allow rollaways to accommodate extra bodies.
Special kids' check-in, though it's more gimmicky than useful, includes a ministaircase rolled up to the front desk to help them reach the counter; reception provides them with a special registration card
Kid-friendly packages change periodically and can include things like tickets to the New England Aquarium and the Children's Museum.
No kids' menu, but Cafe Fleuri has some kid-friendly options, plus serves a Saturday Chocolate Bar, featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet of desserts, offers a special rate for children five to 12
Free cribs; rollaways are charged per night
Concierge can arrange babysitting services upon request.
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.
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 Ono 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.
BOND serves an eclectic mix of Bostonian, Asian, and Mediterranean dishes, for lunch and dinner; turns into lively nightspot after dark.
Cafe Fleuri serves breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday; a weekend breakfast buffet is served, and a la carte breakfast is available as well; on Sundays, brunch is served.
Infamous Saturday Chocolate Bar (see Family section), is served at Cafe Fleuri
"Metropolitan Tea" is served in BOND daily; Tea service with scones and Devonshire cream, lobster salad, salmon with blinis and caviar, Boston Cream Pie and more is available for a flat fee
The Reserve, a European-style champagne lounge features a New American and European-influenced menu, along with a wide selection of champagne. The Reserve also serves a continental breakfast in the morning and a traditional afternoon tea.
24-hour room service
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