Conde Nast Traveler - The promise of an entirely new look at a very old city.

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Our Review

By Sarah Firshein

Give us an establishing shot. Why did this hotel catch your attention?At first glance, The Whitney looks like Beacon Hill’s coolest new condo building, thanks to large windows, chic signage, and gleaming new architecture. Inside, past the engineered-marble check-in desks and the floor-to-ceiling glass cabinets filled with books from prominent Massachusetts authors, is a huge mantel framed by several conversation areas (one with retro-inspired vintage trunks standing in for end tables), a brass elevator topped with an old-fashioned clock, and table lamps with built-in electrical outlets. The air feels fresh, cool, and fragrant, especially on the humid summer day when we stepped in, and the expanse of stylish gray paint will have you begging your decorator for an emergency house-call.

Is there an interesting backstory here?Built in 1909, the building that now houses The Whitney was originally part of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, a specialty hospital, before it became a B&B. Related Beal bought the property in 2016 and shuttered it in 2017 for a large-scale renovation; a 12,000-square-foot addition, attached via a glass connector to the original structure, expanded the capacity from 46 to 65 rooms. Named for the local American industrialist Henry Melville Whitney, who once owned this site, The Whitney owes its historically sensitive new architecture to the Boston-based firm Hacin + Associates, with interiors by Ealain Studio of Maine.

Tell us about your room. Give us a sense of what it was like being there.Our Premium King Suite (one of four suites), tucked into a corner in the hotel’s addition, opened into a tidy living room with tufted leather armchairs, nesting coffee tables, mismatched floor lamps, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Around the corner, past a spacious white-tile bath with a graphic, modern vanity strewn with Grown Alchemist toiletries, a huge corner bedroom offered views of the Charles/MGH Red Line platform in one direction and mid-rise brick buildings in the other. A quilted navy headboard and a sofa-like bench bookended the comfortable king-size WRIGHT bed, topped with piped Sferra linens. Much like the hotel’s public spaces, the details felt confident and masculine: a Georg Jensen cocktail kit and Schott Zwiesel Old Fashioned glasses, a woven herringbone throw monogrammed with “WH,” and three 200mL bottles of booze from Boston distillery Bully Boy. Fresh hydrangeas and a watercolor bearing a sailboat-strewn Charles River chimed in with softer touches.

Is there a charge for Wi-fi – and is the quality good?The Wi-fi was free, but it worked well one minute and cut out the next.

What does the hotel have for food and drinks? Is the sort of stuff you'd seek out if you weren't staying here?At Peregrine, the onsite restaurant from the team behind Juliet (named one of America’s Best New Restaurants in 2016 by Traveler’s sister pub Bon Appetit), a Mediterranean-influenced menu is a safe greatest-hits list of dishes like kale Caesar, Catalonian tomato bread, and roast chicken. The Quick section of the breakfast menu (not included in the room rate) ranges from yogurt and fruit to chickpea toast. There are also several egg dishes (including a zingy lemon-inflected omelet with pecorino and toasted breadcrumbs) and, in the Americano section, some clever riffs on decidedly non-Med favorites, from the B.E.C. (an egg on a croissant with cheddar and bacon) to the L.E.S. (a bagel with all the fixin’s).

Did anything strike you about the service?The service was excellent and personal, yet still unobtrusive. One of the bellhops quickly learned our son’s name (and greeted him as such every time we came and went), yet no one hovered when we turned the lobby into a de facto play space while waiting for a friend. Advance requests—a mini-fridge full of milk for the baby, a high chair, a crib—went above and beyond. Case in point: “Good Night Boston,” an illustrated baby board book, among the lovely array of tot-friendly amenities.

Who are your fellow hotel guests?Academics and execs visiting Harvard and MIT (Cambridge is just across the river), patients (and their families) at Massachusetts General Hospital, and 30- and 40-something locals popping in to ogle the lobby and clink wine glasses at the newest neighborhood hangout.

What else will we find in the area?The Whitney sits at the foot of Longfellow Bridge (which connects Beacon Hill to Kendall Square) just off the Charles River Esplanade, a scenic network of biking and pedestrian paths, playgrounds, and picnic-friendly green space. From your window, you’ll see a parade of Bostonians sneaking in their runs before work. Walk a few minutes in the other direction, and you’ll hit a SoulCycle, a Whole Foods, and other chichi brands that comprise daily life in Beacon Hill. This isn’t a hotel-rich neighborhood though; the closest boutique property is The Liberty, a former jail with a completely different vibe.

Is there anything you'd change?A proper ensuite configuration, rather than a bathroom in the living area, would be clutch for parents traveling with children young enough to be contained in cribs. And in our bedroom, the small corner window could stand for a wider covering so it truly functions like a blackout shade.

Any other little perks worth calling out?The gym is stocked with rowing machine from Hydrow, a new Kickstarter-funded line that was developed locally and integrates with live and on-demand classes, Peloton-style. The hotel also offers sailboat and yacht rentals on the Charles, borrowable bikes, and plenty of perks for pups, including treats, dog beds, and even loaned-but-sure-to-be-stole-by-someone monogrammed jackets. If you crave a late-night cookie but don’t feel like putting on shoes, tip-toe to the Whit Pantry (by the elevator on every floor), which is stocked with complimentary Fever Tree drinks, baked goods, fruit, and bags of ice. Finally, one of the nicest little elements of the hotel is the oasis-like courtyard just off the lobby; designed by landscape architect Matthew Cunningham, the space has a fountain, fire pit, and comfy seating.

Bottom line: Worth it?As the whimsical brass monocles hanging from each guest room door suggest, The Whitney promises a totally new look at one of the oldest cities in the country, and its diminutive size and indie status—no loyalty programs or points rooms here—will appeal to folks looking for intimacy and personality. It’s perfect for anyone who’s been to Boston a few times already, and especially those willing to eschew the obvious tourist sites to take on the expert perspective of a wealthy local.

The Whitney Debuts in Boston

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The Whitney, Boston’s newest boutique hotel concept, has arrived in the city’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood. Named for former industrialist Henry Melville Whitney, who previously owned the site, the new hotel occupies a classic brick townhouse-style structure that complements its residential surroundings.

In collaboration with Portland, Maine-based interior design firm Ealain Studio, locally based architecture practice Hacin + Associates oversaw the design of the Whitney, whose 65 guestrooms are crafted with thoughtful features like large windows. Each of the four uniquely crafted premium suites are overlooking the Charles River. Adjacent to the hotel lobby is the intimate courtyard, designed by Boston-based Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design.

Anchoring F&B offerings of the hotel is Peregrine, the Mediterranean-style restaurant offering a cuisine influenced by Sardinia and Sicily islands, at a cozy, yet upscale lounge atmosphere.

Sneak Peek: Hotel E in Santa Rosa

The first new hotel to open in the Santa Rosa since the 2017 North Bay Fires has started to take reservations: Hotel E.

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Located in downtown Santa Rosa, the 71-room boutique hotel is split between two buildings: the historic Empire Building, which is on the National Register of Historic Buildings and was built in 1910, and 19 Old Courthouse Square.

Owned by Greystone Hotels, the lead interior designer is Jacqueline McGee of Ealain Studio. While we've only seen a sneak peek of the rooms (click the gallery above to check the room decor), the look is sleek and clean, with furnishing that appear traditionally inspired and bespoke touches like photographs showcasing the region and artisan made pillows. The rooms will have tablets for room service and information, free WiFi and nightly turndown service.

Rooms are split between the two buildings: 39 rooms at the Empire Building, which will open in July and 30 rooms at 19 Old Courthouse Square, which open in early 2020. The buildings are split between a public courtyard.


We're particularly stoked about a few additions to the property, specifically a rooftop deck atop 19 Old Courthouse Square with a café overlooking the Square. The world can always use another rooftop lounge.

Aside from the café, Hotel E will have two additional dining options: a wine bar and a three meal restaurant. The wine bar, The Enology Lounge, will be adjacent to the hotel lobby in the Empire Building. Perry's, the iconic San Francisco restaurant and bar, will offer all day dining and weekend brunch at 19 Old Courthouse Square. There's also going to be a Starbucks, so do what you will with that.

As for the name, Hotel E, it's inspired by a few things: Sonoma County's enology heritage, the Empire Building, and Greystone's brand motto: Experience Exceptional Service. We look forward to seeing that in action as downtown continues to evolve Santa Rosa into one of the North Bay's hot spots.



The Whitney: Boston’s Newest Boutique Hotel The Whitney Opening This Spring

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The Whitney, a new 66-room luxury boutique hotel, is set to open in spring 2019 in Boston's historic Beacon Hill. The property is revitalizing and expanding an existing hotel to create a new landmark at the corner of Charles Street and Cambridge Street in the treasured neighborhood. Named for Henry Melville Whitney, a prominent Boston industrialist and one-time owner of the site, The Whitney will offer guests generous hospitality through sophisticated simplicity and cultured comforts.

The Whitney Hotel's Beacon Hill address embodies the best of the classic brick townhouse style associated with the neighborhood and balances the vibrancy of the city with the serenity of its idyllic location. The property, developed by Boston-based Related Beal and operated by Hersha Hospitality Management (HHM), is a haven apart from the urban hustle, welcoming guests with uncomplicated, urbane luxury, complemented by the comforts and indulgences of home. Guestrooms are comfortable and smartly designed with large windows, WRIGHT mattresses, premium showers and baths, and organic bath amenities from the Australian line Grown Alchemist. Four large suites are each uniquely designed, with sweeping views of Beacon Hill, the Charles River, Cambridge, and beyond. Guests will have access to fitness experiences through collaborations with local brand partners, curated excursions and activities. The Whitney's dining concept, yet to be announced, will be created by one of Boston's most renowned restaurateurs.

"The new Whitney Hotel will provide our guests with a truly elegant experience that perfectly balances Boston's urban vibrancy with the serenity of Beacon Hill and the Charles River," said Marina Aslanidou, General Manager, The Whitney. "Our unique design, inspired by nuances of this one-of-a-kind neighborhood, will appeal to both domestic and international travelers seeking an authentic Boston experience. Guests will be encouraged to explore like locals or lose themselves in the quiet comfort of their rooms, or our private, tranquil courtyard."

Tucked away in beloved Beacon Hill, The Whitney blends seamlessly into the distinctive neighborhood, melding contemporary, historic and residential architectural design from Boston-based Hacin + Associates. The brick façade complements the area's character, while the granite-paved entrance provides a transition to a more contemporary lobby space. Guests will enter a warm and welcoming open lobby, designed by Ealain Studio, featuring a luxurious fireplace, high ceilings, reclaimed French oak wood floors, modern light fixtures, and chic seating in a palette of navy, gray and black.

Adjacent to the hotel lobby, a secluded interior courtyard evokes a serene garden experience, with lush multi-seasonal plants, fire pit, and a tranquil fountain providing an intimate respite for guests. The space, designed by Boston-based Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design, infuses light into the guestrooms that overlook it, while serving as a sanctuary for visitors with cozy seating.

Art, influenced by both Beacon Hill and Henry Melville Whitney, plays a pivotal role in the hotel's design. Present throughout the lobby, corridors and guestrooms are images of neighborhood streets and cityscapes, views of the Charles River, sailboats and rowers. Guests will also view replica items and art inspired by Mr. Whitney's business and personal life, including images of the West End Railway he founded and an interpretation of the clock from railroad stations, as well as framed keys to his writing bureau.

THE VILLA FLORENCE HOTEL

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MAKING ITS MARK

Article from Inspire Design

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Joie de Vivre Hotels’ The Marker in San Francisco has completed a multimillion-dollar renovation. The sophisticated redesign of the lobby, meeting and event spaces and living room draws inspiration from the Beaux-Arts period by mixing unexpected scale and theatrical elements of its Union Square neighborhood while reflecting the city’s expressive culture through memorable and bold art.

Housed in a historic 1910 building originally opened as the opulent Hotel Bellevue, the newly renovated Marker pays homage to its location while delighting guests with playful spaces, bold expressions of color and a design full of personality. The sophisticated yet playful design was created by Perkins+Will. The architectural details of the hotel feature a simplified color scheme of soft whites and pale grays to create a canvas for colorful furniture, layered patterns and dramatically placed art and lighting.

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“It’s always fun to work on a project with a strong sense of place and that’s definitely the case with The Marker,” said Jacqueline McGee, project lead formerly with Perkins+Will and now with Ealain Studio. “We strove to enhance the guest experience by highlighting design features and adding playful elements reminiscent of the Beaux-Arts period and famed novel The Maltese Falcon set in the neighborhood. From the dramatic grand staircase to the literary narrative in the Living Room and the larger than life birdcage and 12-ft. lavender glass chandelier in the lobby, guests enjoy bold design features that connect them to the destination.”

Lobby 

Hanging over the entry, Murano-inspired chandeliers each span more than 7-ft. in diameter. Also greeting guests at the entry is a theatrical bird cage, reaching 12-ft. high, created by Shawn Man Roland and inspired by The Maltese Falcon. The central historic fireplace is highlighted by new bookshelves adorned with a colorful collection, including The Maltese Falcon. The grand staircase is now in a bold blue, and at the bottom, an expansive tufted turquoise banquette made by local furniture maker Composition. The new floor is a patterned black and white tile that complements the original historic stone flooring.

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“The purpose of The Marker’s new design decor is to highlight some of its iconic features, including the two timeless fireplaces and the grand staircase, neither of which have changed since the hotel originally opened in 1910,” said Benjamin Duverge, general manager of The Marker. “The use of a simplified color scheme of soft white and pale gray creates a canvas for the colorful furniture, layered patterns, locally curated art and the dramatic lavender chandeliers, reflective of the playfulness for which Joie de Vivre hotels are famous. The fresh design, along with ample, flexible meeting space, provides a unique and ideal setting for urban weddings and corporate meetings alike.”

Living Room

Directly off the lobby, is the new living room, which offers lively urban street views. The literary narrative, inspired by The Maltese Falcon, continues in this space with metallic wall coverings of printed books created by Aztek. New wood floors, custom patterned rugs from Surya and custom furniture throughout reflect the bold design narrative.

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Artists Gallery

An expressive collection of rotating artwork from local artists sets the scene for the Union Square neighborhood and showcases the area’s rich history. The current collection was curated by Jacqueline McGee along with SFMOMA Artists Gallery, which represents and supports Northern California artists at all stages of their careers.

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Meeting and Event Spaces

The Marker offers more than 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting spaces and ballrooms across 18 rooms with elegant charm; a clean, sophisticated atmosphere and historic detailing. Spaces can welcome as many as 300 guests for larger celebrations or 12 or fewer for intimate gatherings.

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Portland’s Heathman Hotel Has a New Look

The historic lodging gets a brighter and more contemporary update, with nods to Portland’s heritage.

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THIS PAST SEPTEMBER, DOWNTOWN PORTLAND’S HISTORIC HEATHMAN HOTEL UNVEILED A $13 MILLION RENOVATION. The update, helmed by Chicago-based architecture firm Perkins + Will, included an overhaul of the hotel’s 151 guest rooms and created a more prominent, expanded home for its immense collection of more than 3,000 books, each signed by their authors.

The result is a brighter, more contemporary aesthetic for the formerly dark and traditional Heathman, which first opened in 1927. “The central salon has been a place for high teas and social gatherings since Heathman’s inception,” says Jacqueline McGee, who was the design lead at Perkins + Will. “Taking a cue from its past, a new social salon was created that would become the perfect home for the Heathman Library. This renowned collection is housed in volumetric bookcases that soar through the double-height space and juxtapose with the distinctive original paneling.”

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That original paneling was then mimicked in each of the guest rooms, but in white. The room’s all-white surrounds are contrasted with patterned Surya rugs, modern furnishings in shades of blue and camel, and new gray-stained wood floors.

Portland-inspired art abounds throughout the hotel’s public spaces. In the lobby, two large columns were clad in acrylic and adorned with original Portland pennies, which McGee notes takes inspiration from Portland’s origin story, in which its two founders (one hailing from Portland, Maine, and one from Boston) flipped a coin to determine if their new frontier would be called—you guessed it—Portland or Boston. Behind the front desk, is a three-dimensional map of the city, crafted in brass and dark bronze glass. Other local artists featured include illustrator and photographer Katie Jeanne Reim; painter and ceramicist Barry D. Kaine; artist Tony Thomas; painter Hilary Winfield; and map artist and painter Rachel Ann Austin. 

With this extensive renovation, McGee says she hopes guests feel “a sense of intrigue” over the art installations and “amazement and awe” at how the social salon and library have been transformed.

Heathman Hotel, 1001 SW Broadway, Portland; heathmanhotel.com

By: Lauren Mang

A REDESIGN FIT FOR A KING

Article from Inspire Design

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San Francisco-based Greystone Hotels recently completed a renovation of the King George Hotel, a 153-room boutique hotel located on Mason St. in the heart of Union Square. The $5.5-million top-to-bottom remodel has set the stage for a new level of comfort and style to the lobby, guestrooms, corridors and bathrooms.

The centerpiece of the King George Hotel is the newly introduced Mason Social Club, which unites the lobby, bar, hotel living room, technology center, and new games room into one cohesive, multifunctional space that is reminiscent of an English inn.

Designed by Jacqueline McGee, principal of Ealain Studio and formerly of Perkins + Will, the 5,600-sq. ft. space combines English charm with 21st century technology and features distinct areas for relaxation, productivity, socializing, and entertainment.

In a Q&A with InspireDesign, McGee talks about the inspiration behind the redesign.

What was the inspiration behind the newly revamped spaces?

The King George Hotel, a boutique property in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square, seemed to demand a mix of metropolitan style and the charm of a classic English inn. We built out our storyboard to focus on the lobby’s central bar—the real heart of any British gathering—and ultimately exposed an open, multifunctional lounge concept from there. The hotel team wanted to create spaces for relaxing, socializing, working, and playing, so we were able to have a bit of fun weaving together our ideas of British traditions, sports, pubs, and more.


How do you go about curating pieces for the hotel’s spaces?

We wanted to retain the British influence within the hotel and were drawn to the classic English derby hat for our initial inspiration. A collection of these bowler hats was retrofitted into a custom light fixture above the lobby’s community table, so finding—or creating—unique pieces for each space is central to our philosophy. We worked with Grand Image consultants in Seattle to curate some of the new artwork, and while the King George needed to remain clean, classic, and functional, we also added a bit of whimsy with the super-scaled throne and red phone booth in hopes of encouraging guests to truly interact with the space and decor around them.

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What story did you want to tell in terms of the new look?

The purpose of the Mason Social Club is to welcome visitors and offer a little something for everyone. The oiled wood floor, bronze fixtures, and blackened steel details were designed to create a simple armature for the many games and activities of the space, while the custom rugs, decorative pillows, and plush seating reinforce the comfortable and relaxed ambiance of the lobby. I hope that the story we tell is one of personalization, entertainment, and accommodation.

HEATHMAN COMPLETES RENOVATION

A TWO-STORY LIBRARY IS AT THE HEART OF THE PROPERTY

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LaSalle Hotel Properties’ Heathman Hotel’s 151 guestrooms and public spaces were updated to showcase a bright and modern design from Jackie McGee, formerly of Perkins + Will, rooted in the building’s history dating back to 1927.

The lobby was transformed to mirror that of a living room at the hotel, which is managed by Provenance Hotels. A 3D map named 200 X 200 hangs behind the front desk, highlighting the city’s 200 ft. long city blocks. Focal points of the lobby are columns surrounded by hundreds of floating black discs that represent the “Portland Penny,” referencing the coin Portland founders Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy flipped to name the bend in the Willamette River that eventually blossomed into the city.

The new two-story Heathman Library is the The heart of the property, managed by Provenance Hotels,  is the new two-story Heathman Library which is housed in the former Tea Court Lounge, and offers more than 3,000 volumes of works signed by the authors. A massive bookcase takes up the full height of the room, and all guests have access to the collection. A warm palette of colors dresses the space, and a fireplace adorned with white handcrafted tile along with herringbone wood floors help to root the room’s residential feel.

Guestrooms make use of natural materials, reclaimed items and local art. Whitewashed wood-paneled walls frame wood flooring adorned with a blue area rug, caramel furniture, and gray accents amid a neutral color palette. A handblown glass credenza becomes a focal point of the room, while art from Portland artists round out the design. Katie Jeanne Reim’s “Rose City” pairs the patterns of topographical maps with natural images. Barry D. Kaine’s “St. John’s Bridge,” Tony Thomas’ vibrant “Sellwood,” the abstract “Dimension 9” by Hilary Winfield, and Rachel Ann Austin’s “Poppies” are all works that can be found throughout the rooms.

Photo: Courtesy of Provenance Hotels