Time to start thinking ahead. In a mere few months, you can be enjoying the services of a fireplace butler to warm up your soul. Maybe we should more accurately call them fireplace sommeliers, since, like their wine brethren, they will select just the right wood—oak, cherry, maple, or birch?—aged just the right time to your taste preference. All you need to do is book one of 42 suites at the completely remade and rebranded Newbury Boston hotel.
Long famous for its sweeping views of the Boston Public Garden and the Boston Common beyond, the Leading Hotels of the World property possesses one of the most stellar hotel histories of not only Back Bay, but of all Boston. And your fireplace is a throwback to the hotel’s 1927 origins as one of the first Ritz-Carltons. While the late-twenties proved not to be the most auspicious of periods to launch, ultimately over most of the last century, royalty of the crown-wearing kind, as well as of the Tinseltown and theater variety, along with celebrated writers and socialites, all came to feel at home at the Ritz.
Now managed by the Highgate hospitality group, the Newbury brought in several renowned designers to work their magic in maintaining those historic bones—just admire the wonderful brass mailbox in the lobby that any prewar building worth its salt still has in place—while bringing the space into a new era of aesthetic choices.
To wit, you can thank Jeffrey Beers International for the modern lobby with its Nero Dorato marble floors. Yet, as you move up, you respect how the firm’s work itself respects historical elements; that holds true right down to the elegant banister on the sweeping stairs that lead to the second floor public spaces where the original dining room’s beloved cobalt blue chandeliers still hang.
Completely reimagined by Champalimaud Design, all 286 rooms—of which 90 are suites—are where marble meets muted blues and greys in fabrics and furnishings. Artist Veronica Lawlor contributed festive Boston-detailed illustrations for each room (the hotel’s fine art collection will be highlighted in a coming post). A nice touch as well is a copy in each room of Robert McCloskey’s popular 1940s illustrated children’s book Make Way for Ducklings, whose mallard characters live in the Public Garden.
Another splashly Newbury addition, Contessa rooftop restaurant from the Major Food Group has quickly become one of Boston’s most dramatic and proverbial see and be seen dining spaces. Starting nearly a century ago, Boston swells would have been up there dancing in the open air to Jazz Age music and later swing bands. Now, the wrap-around venue is all under a glass-enclosed, retractable roof. Thanks to designer Ken Fulk, its bright interior is filled with blue and pink velvet banquettes, marble tiling and plenty of potted plants.
On Contessa executive chef Farouk Bazoune’s current menu, a squash carpaccio and spicy lobster capellini are super popular, as are his mains of grilled branzino and veal Milanese. As you’d expect from a Northern Italian restaurant, Contessa has a deep wine list. To start off a bright morning, order a breakfast of their carbonara pancetta scramble for eggs like you’ve never had before.
Also by Ken Fulk, the lobby level Street Bar would be the prime public space in most any other hotel. Whether over light menu selections, or just nibbles and drinks—when you order the vodka and vermouth Public Garden Spritz, $1 goes toward the Friends of the Public Garden organization—the bar with its leather stools, fireplace, and dark woods takes you back to that old Ritz era. You might find yourself wheeling and dealing like a speakeasy regular.
Also with a fireplace, dark woods, and leather and velvet, the adjacent art-filled private Library is quieter, inducing you to talk perhaps more news and culture of the day. Taking up another prime lobby level corner, the Tiffany & Co. store is a calmer alternative to the famous Fifth Ave behemoth.
Like the Ritz-Carlton’s 1927 opening, the Newbury’s pandemic timing made for a challenging debut, but General Manager Carlos Bueno succeeded in keeping most staff onboard.
And that continuity surely lent to the luxury of you having your own fireplace provisions officer, which is what the word sommelier is derived from, after all. So, book the in-suite afternoon tea experience or order a nightcap later and have that fire steward get the blaze going. And if you brought Fido or Fifi along in the pet friendly Newbury, you can look forward to curling up for fireplace snuggle time.
Leading Hotels of the World
Established in 1928, the LHW collection is made up of more than 400 hotels in a plethora of design and architectural styles. With 95% of the properties independently-managed, the company’s mission is to empower them to maintain that status.
A full 85% of the collection’s hotels are family-owned as well, many run by third, fourth or fifth generations. To join, hotels must be referred by an existing member, with roughly five percent out of 500 inquiries ultimately joining annually.
Leading Hotels’ tiered Leaders Club loyalty program provides members with benefits such earning free nights, exclusive rates, upgrade opportunities, complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi.