From Alberta to Zermatt, hotels vie to offer the most spectacular view from a hotel room window. But not many hotels are spectacular views themselves.
Boston’s Intercontinental does both. From my panoramic window, the view of the waterfront above Fort Point Channel stretched across the harbor, and included boats moored below, as well as little water taxis scuttling between Rowe’s Wharf and the World Trade Center. A replica of a tallship from the great age of sail glided across the water and posed momentarily beneath a 747 taking off from Logan. I had to tear myself away from this changing scene, reminding myself that I was in town on business, not to daydream at the window.
But it was the view of the hotel, not from it, that had first attracted me to the Intercontinental. The girls and I had stepped out of the Boston Children’s Museum late one afternoon and before us was as fine a cityscape as I’d ever seen. Across the channel, the gently curved east façade of the hotel rose 22 stories tall, and in its blue-tinted glass was reflected the slightly surreal shapes and colors of the blue sky and the brick-red museum bathed in afternoon sunlight.
As we walked toward the bridge, the patterns of the reflection shifted subtly, like a painting being created as we watched. It wasn’t just the reflection that arrested my attention. It was the shape and proportion of the building.
I learned during my stay that this proportion was no random decision. Pointing out that Boston’s original high-rises were the tall ships, architect Howard Elkus chose the height of the towers to match the height of the masts of ships that docked where the hotel now stands. And its gently convex and concave surfaces recall their billowing sails.
There’s even more history wound into the 2007 building. It stands on the site of the Boston Tea Party, and to commemorate the location, in a prominent glass case in the lobby is an original tea chest from that event that helped kick off the American Revolution.
I found a few other revolutionary ideas at the hotel – a French bistro, a rum bar (with the tongue-in-cheek name Rum-Ba poking a bit of fun at the Boston accent) and a restaurant with live salsa music, specializing in sushi and tequila.
My room was not the typical bed-in-a-box, either. First, it was spacious, and its size enhanced by the wall full of windows that brought sky and 180 degrees of Boston waterfront into view. The bed was abundantly endowed with good pillows, high-count linens, and two reading lights on each side – a lamp on the table and a small goose-neck spotlight.
A large (and well equipped with outlets) desk sat in front of the window, and a cushy armchair and an update of the Victorian fainting couch provided comfortable seating. All the expected details were there – soft robe, slippers, big closet with a light, iron and board. A doorbell announced guests.
The bathroom was large, too, and like the room, made even more spacious-seeming by a large window opening into the bedroom. It was set high, opening above the backboard of the bed, and could be closed for more privacy. The were dual sinks in a marble vanity, large tub and glass-enclosed shower were all supplied with quality bath amenities, and towels were plentiful.
Spacious is the word that comes first to mind here, in guest rooms and throughout the hotel. Its wide lobby spans an entire block in length, opening both to Atlantic Avenue (only two short blocks from South Station) and to the waterfront promenade. Rum-Ba is a striking focal point – but not enough so that you fail to notice the lobby art works. The hotel has made this a priority, showing museum quality exhibits in its public spaces.
The bottom line at any hotel is the hospitality, and I was pampered there by a genial and accommodating staff. They gave directions, offered a hand, opened doors, greeted me and bid me adieu with warmth and a smile. I’ll return to stay, and will continue to enjoy its contribution to the waterfront scenery whenever I'm in the neighborhood.