Stay The Night: Ames, Boston
Morgans has brought its signature minimalist style to this east-coast city. The in-crowd are buzzing about it, says Kate Simon
Sunday 27 March 2011
Every city hotel should have a buzz about it. But when that buzz becomes a racket, it's time to turn down the noise. Ames in Boston is a case in point. On arrival at this property right around the corner from Faneuil Hall – one of the latest additions to the east-coast city's hotel scene – you might be beguiled by the sights and sounds of the chattering classes at play in the bar/restaurant, Woodward, opposite reception. But should you decide to book a table for dinner there, abandon all hope of hearing a word your companion has to say.
The solution is simple, keep the bar downstairs and move the restaurant to the space on the first floor where a private event was being held during my stay. It's the kind of attention to detail that isn't usually lost on this hotel, for it is precise in every other aspect, from the individuality of the decor and the positioning of the furnishings to the knowledge required of the concierge.
Ames belongs to the Morgans Hotel Group, which has properties from the Delano on Miami's South Beach to the Sanderson in London, all of which are predicated on style and substance. The first property, Morgans in New York, opened in the mid-Eighties and the group claims the boutique hotel concept as its own – its aim from the outset was to achieve a reputation for offering guests personal service, a home-from-home atmosphere and timeless elegance.
More than two decades later, has Morgans met those challenges? Possibly not at Ames in Boston. Personal service deserves a tick – this is a well-run establishment with helpful staff. But as for the home-from-home atmosphere, that's a common and absurd aspiration of most hotels. Unless your house is the creation of an interior designer and has a disco in the basement, I doubt Ames will remind you of home.
And timeless elegance? Morgans hotels are among the sharpest dressed properties in any town and their contemporary styling pays luxurious homage, here and there, to past design. But the effect shouldn't be inaccurately dismissed by that blandest of terms, "timeless".
Ames has an enviable setting in the city's first skyscraper, the splendid Ames building. That sense of history is present in the exterior, but a little lost on the inside. Although the owners have kept some of the original features and had pieces of furniture designed with a nod to period style, such as the Federal desks in the bedrooms, the contemporary minimal look still dominates, with its spare palette of browns, greys, blacks and whites, where only the occasional splash of colour or pattern is allowed for dramatic effect.
In the 114 bedrooms, which vary from a standard room to a one-bedroom apartment, the juxtaposition of sleek modern and ornate antique-style furnishings lends a sophisticated air for which Morgans fans hotel hop around the world's cities. To those of us not so hung up on the precision dressing of a bedroom, it can feel a little cold.
But the essentials are all here in abundance – the bed is extremely comfortable, the bathroom inviting and generously supplied with Malin+Goetz toiletries, and the hi-tech gadgets required by the modern traveller, such as iPod docks and flatscreen HDTVs, are present.
The food and drink
Open from morning till night, Woodward is the in-house venue for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Woodward describes itself as a "modern-day tavern" (hence the recreation of the pub vibe where diners and drinkers uncomfortably mix), and the space, revolves around the bar and has been designed to feel smart yet informal.
But the food is a fair few notches above gastropub fare in its aspirations – a starter of lobster sandwiches comes with shaved fennel and citrus, a main dish of seared tuna is served with celery root purée, roasted quince and pomegranate, no less. Expect to pay around $57 (£35) for three courses without drinks.
There's an interesting wine list to choose from and the skilled bartenders specialise in conjuring up top-quality cocktails.
Check out the state-of-the-art fitness centre, open 24 hours a day. In-room spa treatments are available.
Children and pets welcome. Fourteen of the rooms have been modified for guests with disabilities.
There is a variety of special offers, including 10 per cent off for early bookers and packages such as a night's accommodation with two complementary drinks for $195 (£120). Kate Simon travelled to Boston as a guest of British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com), which offers return flights from £530.
Ames, 1 Court Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108 (001 617 979 8120; ameshotel.com).
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