Above: Roof, XV Beacon Hotel, Boston

Rediscovering Boston’s Civilized Charm

Two of Boston’s classic grand hotels, The Newbury and The Langham, have been completely reinvented. We checked in to make an assessment. During our visit, we also discovered a new boutique property, The Whitney, which now provides some competition for our longtime Boston member favorite, XV Beacon Hotel.

The Newbury Boston

View from The Newbury Boston

For decades, the Ritz-Carlton hotel stood at the corner of Arlington and Newbury streets, just across from Boston’s Public Garden. It had opened in this ideal location in 1927, and over subsequent years enjoyed a reputation as an unofficial clubhouse for Boston’s elite, as well as a starchy upholder of traditional etiquette and values. (In 1981, fresh off a TWA flight from London, I myself was summarily ejected from the lobby for the offense of wearing bluejeans.) In 2006, to widespread Bostonian dismay, the Ritz was sold and renamed Taj Boston. (Today, a new Ritz-Carlton is located a 10-minute walk away.) This ownership ended in 2016. After a multimillion-dollar renovation, ­during which the public areas were reinvented and the property’s historic ballrooms were restored, the hotel finally reopened in May 2021 as The Newbury Boston.

Fortunately, the reception on my recent trip was much friendlier than before. I was greeted with exemplary politeness, and my attire did not attract so much as a sideways glance. Revolving doors on both Newbury and Arlington streets provide access to the newly restyled lobby, which has a dramatic black marble floor and sweeping brass-railed staircase covered by a sapphire-blue carpet. Elegant vitrines and a branch of Tiffany & Co. contribute to an atmosphere that is at once intimate and opulent, traditional and contemporary.

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Above: Roof, XV Beacon Hotel, Boston

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