FEATURES : TRAVEL

Journal: Ames Boston

By Michael Muller

Published August 16, 2011

Boston's first skyscraper, the Ames.

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Boston's first skyscraper, the Ames.

A skyward view of the Ames from the patio at the Woodward

Photo: Michael A. Muller

A skyward view of the Ames from the patio at the Woodward

Entrance to the Ames lobby

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Entrance to the Ames lobby

The modern concierge desk

Photo: Michael A. Muller

The modern concierge desk

The Woodward bar

Photo: Michael A. Muller

The Woodward bar

The banquet and meeting room on the second level of the Woodward

Photo: Michael A. Muller

The banquet and meeting room on the second level of the Woodward

"Pepper's Ghost": an illusory chandelier projection on each floor's hallway mirrors

Photo: Michael A. Muller

"Pepper's Ghost": an illusory chandelier projection on each floor's hallway mirrors

Relics on exhibit in the hotel's Cabinets of Curiosities in the Woodward

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Relics on exhibit in the hotel's Cabinets of Curiosities in the Woodward

A lavish living area in one of the suites

Photo: Michael A. Muller

A lavish living area in one of the suites

One of the suite's ample four-post beds

Photo: Michael A. Muller

One of the suite's ample four-post beds

Charcuterie and Duxbury Oysters at the Woodward

Photo: Michael A. Muller

Charcuterie and Duxbury Oysters at the Woodward

The statue of Paul Revere

Photo: Michael A. Muller

The statue of Paul Revere

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Inside Penn Station, after cavorting through the many throngs of travelers, I met up with some friends to board the Acela train headed for Boston, Mass., for a stay at the unique Ames Hotel. I had never been a tourist in Boston, and a whirlwind 36-hours in a new city coupled with a stay in a luxury hotel seemed like an ideal mid-week escape.

It’s obvious that Boston has no shortage of historical significance. But the one true challenge lies in preserving that rich heritage while striving to be progressive and current. Such is the case on the reopening of the classic early-American Ames building, whose self-defined style of a “contrast of eras” is entirely appropriate. Originally built in 1889 (the same as the Eiffel Tower), the hotel was redesigned and opened in 2009 by the Morgans Group, which paid attention to the details of the original building’s design and nuances, while holding fast to its trademark contemporary palette in their other hotels such as the Hudson in NYC, the Mondrian in LA and the Delano in South Beach, Miami amongst others. The Ames is teeming with thoughtful architectural details that feel classic and timeless, like the brass and marble staircase and tiled barrel-vaulted ceiling in the lobby. The hotel’s redesign combines this history with dramatic modernism, like the 20,000-piece mirrored chandelier hoisted above the main entrance to glint downward upon entering guests. The Ames is perfectly located on Court and State streets, it’s only a short walk to the Freedom Trail, Quincy Market, the harbor and the hallowed North End.

The rooms are very modern – sleek and stark. Accessorized with well-executed details – the practical (iPod dock), the quirky (terrariums), and the lush (elaborate minibars stocked with $8 water bottles), this is not just a nice hotel. This – like other “cool” hotels such as the Ace, or the Standard, recognizes the modern traveler’s appreciation both for aesthetics and basic functionality. The approach in each of the 113 rooms serve as a high standard for excellence and a rare meticulous hand of design truly gracing the current industry.

For dinner we ate in the Ames’s restaurant, the Woodward, which – as one might guess – continues the old and new tradition. The floor on the main level is the original tile laid in the 19th century while the sleek table and chair sets adorn perfectly throughout the space. Livening the palette with interesting approaches to new American cuisine, executive chef Mark Goldberg and his crew take particular care with each plate, sourcing many of the ingredients from local farms or harvesting their oysters from nearby Duxbury. The bar again holds fast to the local approach, donning a collaborative brew with New Hampshire’s Smuttynose brewery to go alongside a healthy smattering of wine and cocktail options.

The food was fantastic: a watermelon-feta salad, locally-grown tomato and mozzarella crostini, duck confit flatbreads, striped bass, and braised lamb with summer succotash (a historically significant staple to the Native American population of present day Massachusetts). After leveling off a blueberry-Cognac tart and peppered chocolate ganaches, the final night in the Ames came to a close.

On the tranquil ride back into the hubbub of NYC, I took a clear assessment of my time at the Ames and the surrounding landscape only to concretely fasten the experience as one of the best to recent memory. While flowing through the labyrinthine flocks upon arrival back at Penn Station I was already pining for my next visit.

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