Langham Hotel Boston Rating: 4.0 Pearls

Vestiges of the hotel's former life as a Federal Reserve bank are subtly present throughout the 1922 property.

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Historic Hotels in Boston (23 of 24)

 Vestiges of the hotel's former life as a Federal Reserve bank are subtly present throughout the 1922 property.
In a city that wears its historic pedigree like a badge of honor, the Omni Parker House has a lot to boast about. Opened in 1855, the 551-room landmark is the longest continuously operating hotel in the country, and the first in Boston that offered running water and elevator service. The hotel's famous guests -- and former employees -- read like a laundry list of the political and cultural elite: Charles Dickens frequently stayed at the Parker House during his trips to the U.S., and it was here that he did the very first reading of A Christmas Carol on American soil for members of the Saturday Club literary group. Decades later, Ho Chi Minh worked as a baker in the basement kitchen, likely churning out the hotel's deservedly famous, eponymous Parker House Rolls. J.F.K. proposed to Jackie at a table at Parker's Restaurant, where Malcolm X once worked as a busboy. To hear about the hotel's spookier history, ask old-timer concierge Seamus Murphy about the ghost of the 19th-century whiskey salesman who lives in the closet of Room 303, and plants booze-soaked kisses on female guests. For nearly 150 years, the tall granite building at 215 Charles Street was known as the Charles Street Jail and housed some of Boston's most heinous criminals. In 2007, after a painstaking restoration that preserved elements of the original design, it reopened as the Liberty Hotel. In 2007, after a painstaking restoration that preserved elements of the original design, it reopened as the Liberty Hotel. In places, the hotel has even kept the jail's iron bars and worked them into the decor. Instead of a typical "Do Not Disturb" sign, guests hang a "Solitary" key ring on their doorknobs. Clink., the restaurant off the lobby, suggests the sound of a jailer's jangling keys. The walls of Alibi, the lounge downstairs, are hung with celebrity mug shots (Sinatra, Morrison, Nolte). Just as palatial as it was when it first opened in 1912, the storied 383-room Fairmont Copley Plaza remains as iconic to Boston as the Plaza is to New York -- and no less grand, as they share the same architect. The lobby alone is 5,000 square feet, with 21-foot-high gilded, coffered ceilings. "Boston's Grand Dame" has welcomed just about every U.S. president since Taft, every celebrity from Frank Sinatra to Tom Cruise, and more than a few of the world's most powerful moguls -- like Sumner Redstone, who famously survived the hotel's tragic 1979 fire (set by a disgruntled employee) by hanging from a third-story window. The sumptous, wood-paneled Oak Bar and Oak Room are as grand as the rest of the hotel and give guests a taste of a different era (literally -- Clams Casino, a dish which gained popularity in the 1920s, still makes it onto the dinner menu). Constructed in 1900 as the most luxurious hotel in New England, the charming Back Bay hotel has welcomed guests for over a century to its 214 rooms. Black-uniformed porters welcome guests into the elegant yet comfortable lobby, accented by marble floors, ebony reception desks, and a wood-burning fireplace kept roaring all day (there's a fireplace in a quarter of the rooms as well). Only in Boston will you find a Marriott Vacation Club housed in a landmark building (erected in 1847) that functioned as, well, a custom house, collecting duties on imported goods. Up until the mid-20th century, it was the tallest building in Boston, and its clock tower is still a distinctive feature of the city's skyline. A small museum dedicated to the hotel's history is located in the rotunda on the 2nd floor. The landmarked Copley Square Hotel, opened in 1891, is the second-oldest operating hotel in the country. It has hosted everyone from Babe Ruth to President McKinley, and Billy Holiday sang at the hotel's now defunct famous jazz club, Storyville. Unfortunately, the Copley Square Hotel's $18 million renovation in 2008 didn't honor the property's past. The Back Bay Hotel occupies what was once Boston's police headquarters. Built in the 1920s, the building's engraved exterior still reads: "City of Boston Police Department Headquarters." Today, it's hard to imagine that this homey, 225-room hotel was ever an office building where the work centered around gritty crimes and hardened criminals. But the cheeky name of the bar, Cuffs, and the black-and-white photographs from the police headquarter days hanging in the lobby, pay homage to the property's past. Vestiges of the hotel's former life as a Federal Reserve bank are subtly present throughout the 1922 property. Vestiges of the hotel's 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.
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