Few travellers would choose to arrive at any luxury hotel around the midnight hour. Sometimes, however, it is inevitable. Thanks to a badly delayed international flight, that is what happened to the gal when she flew into Boston. Fortunately Logan International Airport has latest do-it-yourself immigration kiosks, and the real-live personnel were somehow charming even at that time of night, and the cab driver spoke English and knew the way to Mandarin Oriental Boston. The alert doorman smiled widely and opened the door and there, amazingly, stood the Night Manager, Alex Bonesu, from Italy. The lobby – above, photographed at five minutes to midnight – had a big fire, and lots of seasonal floribunda. It also had a selfie frame, and a wooden lobster pot of stuffed-toy lobsters
Boxes for what constitutes a ‘luxury hotel’ were being ticked, quickly. Up in my room, the fruit was exactly what this customer wanted, and a bottle of red Zinfandel indicated that guest records work, here. I did make it to the gym, which of course is 24/7 Technogym and, as all top properties should have, there were plenty of wrapped headphones, and apples. After a ten-minute workout and a deep bath I had hours of good, though not enough, sleep, and in the morning I looked out, across Boylston, at the Apple Store. What a dream location this is for Apple-addicts. It is, in fact, a very well thought out hotel.
In 2014 the 148-room hotel, then owned effectively by the Irish Government, decided to relax its formerly let’s-be-fine-dining restaurant, and the resulting Adam Tihany-designed Bar Boulud French Bistro & Oyster Bar is brilliant. The main ground floor space, which seats a total of 170, including a more-casual bar end, is lined with the giant outline frames from a cooperage so you feel as if you are dining in a wine barrel: there is also, summer-long, overspill to the Boylston sidewalk. I sadly only breakfasted, but I liked having the name of chef Brian Arruda on the menu, at that hour – his boss, Daniel Boulud, comes four times a year. The breakfast buffet includes choice of à la carte hot dishes.
There are special events. In four days’ time Matthieu Bordes, winemaker and owner of Château Lagrange, is hosting a four-course tasting dinner, paired with wines that go back to 1996. It does seem that luxury hotels that casualise, without dumbing down, their dining facilities are going to be much more memorable than competitors which insist on continuing with old-fashioned white table cloths and all they imply. And Daniel Boulud is a clever dining partner. He is modern-French, and his empire, which includes Mandarin Oriental London, Ritz-Carlton Montreal and The Surrey in New York, is not too large. It also helps that this particular hotel has a GM, Philipp Knuepfer, who during his 16 years with MOHG, has worked his way up through ‘F&B’. And, as well as being run by his passionate team, which seems to show a strong Italian streak, there are continual moments to make you smile – like those toy lobsters and, by the entrance to Bar Boulud, an entire wall of wood wine cases. SEE SUITE 735