Renovation at a good price: this luxury Boston hotel just got a little more luxurious

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And there’s more money to talk about, especially the banking history of the Renaissance Revival structure which was built in 1922 in Post Office Square. The building’s past life as a bank was quickly eclipsed when Le Méridien Hotels took over the building in 1981 (it became a Langham in 2003). While there have been a few indicators of the building’s past life as a financial institution, the Langham’s two-year renovation sought not only to showcase them, but to bring in new elements to give a nod to respectful (and elegant) eye to his financial roots.

Sitting area in the front hall near the fireplace.David L. Ryan / Globe Staff

“We tried to keep a touch of history throughout the hotel in a very subtle way,” explained Caitlin Bernal, Shawmut Design and Construction Project Manager, as she began a tour of the hotel. . “The buzzwords we use are the new American classic. So you will see a lot of inspiration from the history of the bank. Many fabrics and patterns are inspired by the costumes of bankers. We will see carpets and wall coverings in homage to this.

Many of these touches are subtle and easily missed. A rug in the lobby has a design inspired by patterns found on the dollar bill. But, as Randy Shelly, Executive Vice President of Hospitality at Shawmut, is quick to point out, “It’s tasteful, not bad taste.

The Federal Reserve Bank emblem remains on the floor of the hotel's restaurant, the Grana.
The Federal Reserve Bank emblem remains on the floor of the hotel’s restaurant, the Grana.David L. Ryan / Globe Staff

He is right. The reimagined Langham is a tasteful, decidedly masculine space that finally puts the luxury hotel chain’s Boston outpost up to par with locations in London and Chicago. The hotel is in dire need of a renovation, and that’s nice. Prices will also be in line with these locations. Rooms start at $ 595 a night for the weeks the hotel is open. These rates fluctuate throughout the year.

The look of the new Langham is somewhere between 1922 and 2022. There are Art Deco silhouettes in the chairs and benches, but they’re covered in modern jewel tones (green, of course, is prevalent). Perhaps the biggest and most welcome change is the cocktail bar at street level. Formerly known as the Reserve, the bar is now known as the Fed. Unlike its previous incarnation, which seemed undefined and flat, the Fed embraced public privacy. Better yet, there is now outdoor seating if you’d rather eat your lobster fries or shrimp mac and cheese outside.

A mural by NC Wyeth of President Lincoln on the wall with the detail of a gold leaf ceiling, both reminiscent of the building's history as the former Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
A mural by NC Wyeth of President Lincoln on the wall with the detail of a gold leaf ceiling, both reminiscent of the building’s history as the former Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.David L. Ryan / Globe Staff

It’s a must-have addition to a neighborhood that lacked sophisticated after-work cocktail destinations.

The other change that most locals will notice is the hotel restaurant. Bond, a clubby hotspot with a DJ booth, cacophonous electronic music and a crowd to match, has been replaced by an Italian restaurant called Grana. Sorry kids, the DJ booth is gone, but now there’s a massive, minimalist freedom-headed piece of art (think silver) hanging Oz-style against dramatic curtains.

Formerly known as the Reserve, the bar is now known as the Fed.  Unlike its previous incarnation, which seemed undefined and flat, the Fed embraced public privacy.
Formerly known as the Reserve, the bar is now known as the Fed. Unlike its previous incarnation, which seemed undefined and flat, the Fed embraced public privacy. David L. Ryan / Globe Staff

The perimeter of the ceiling has been restored to show the original decorative trim and ornate plaster flowers, which have been adorned with new gold leaf. The original brass Federal Reserve seal from 1922 remains in the center of the coin. The carpet was removed and the terrazzo floor below, which was damaged in several places, was carefully repaired. The restaurant is now much brighter and the banquets are much more numerous. The dining room is surrounded by small brass lamps reminiscent of the small lamps that would have been in the bank in the 1920s.

The restaurant will open for breakfast and lunch, but will eventually switch to a family-style Italian dinner menu. Café Fleuri, which was known for its chocolate brunch, is no longer. The space is now a small ballroom.

A view of the glass ceiling of the Langham restaurant.
A view of the glass ceiling of the Langham restaurant.David L. Ryan / Globe Staff

The 312 rooms (plus eight two-story loft suites) are almost unrecognizable from their pre-renovation appearance. They feature new woodwork as well as a lighter, fresher color scheme and new marble bathrooms. Bedroom art references both silver (of course) and Boston scenes, to remind guests where they are staying.

“What was important to us was to make sure that customers really got a feel for where they are,” said Bernal. “It was important to highlight the history of the bank, but also things unique to Boston, like the art of the Copley Society of Art. But above all, what we wanted to emphasize is that this is a luxury hotel with a mix of history and modern amenities.

An executive room at Langham Boston.
An executive room at Langham Boston.David L. Ryan / Globe Staff

Christopher Muther can be reached at christopher.muther@globe.com. Follow him on twitter @Chris_Muther.



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