Boston's see-and-be-seen hot spot
298 Rooms / 10 Suites
You’d never think that people would be clamoring to get into a Boston prison, but the Charles Street Jail — now converted into The Liberty, A Luxury Collection Hotel — is one of the city’s hottest spots. Of course, the 1851 penitentiary has seen some upgrades since The Liberty opened in 2007. But the hotel cleverly embraced the vestiges its former life for a one-of-a-kind experience. On the first floor, the jail’s original cells were transformed into Alibi, where a young see-and-be-seen crowd files in to enjoy cocktails against barred windows and brick walls with celebrity mugshots, even on weeknights. The restaurants have cheeky lock-up-inspired names like Clink and Scampo (Italian for “escape”). And while the rooms don’t feel like cells, design touches like a safe that serves as a bedside table, a do-not-disturb sign that says “Solitary,” scales of justice on the wood desk and a cream throw pillow bearing tally marks to record days of incarceration lend a jailhouse-chic vibe.
After the Boston hotel wraps up renovations in March 2016, all 298 accommodations will have this playful décor. Interior designer Bill Rooney (whose work include The Peninsula Chicago and The Peninsula New York) balances the slammer style with a classic palette — a studded navy headboard that nearly covers one wall, maroon accents, a brown leather armchair with matching ottoman and hardwood floors. On the cream and tan herringbone wall coverings, clusters of navy and gold frames showcase everything from a map of the area to a collection of skeleton keys.
Rooms come with the latest technology, including voice-over IP phones that allow you to do everything from check your flight status to order room service, and HD TVs with video on-demand. Granite bathrooms are outfitted with a separate glass shower, a deep-soaking tub and Molton Brown products.
The most luxurious accommodations in the Beacon Hill hotel are the Superior Suite, which has separate living room/dining areas and floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramas of the city skyline, and the Deluxe Ebersol Suite, which affords a 270-degree view of Boston from its top-to-toe windows, dining and living rooms, a butler pantry and a 305-square-foot, year-round balcony that’s wired for sound.
Operating as a jail until 1990, the granite National Historic Landmark building retains much of its original design. Go up the escalator to the lobby, a dramatic 90-foot-tall rotunda with 33-foot-high arched windows, large circular windows and a cupola. Balconies on upper floors that connect guest rooms and meeting areas encircle the rotunda and look out over the lobby. The jail, which held Sacco and Vanzetti, was considered innovative when it debuted because the windows provided ample light and air for prisoners without compromising security, since the rotunda gave corrections officers a clear view of the cells located within the four protruding wings.
Now, the cross-shaped building’s airy atrium lobby serves as a natural gathering place, with carpets that mimic New England crewel work, exposed-brick walls and a massive wrought-iron chandelier. Oversized tree prints stretching four stories with sleek shades of maroon, gray and purple add a modern look.
This hip hotel gives you a host of perks, including complimentary Biria bikes, a 24-hour gym and a running concierge. The Liberty also provides a luggage liaison who will fetch your bags at the airport and deliver them directly to the hotel, so that you don’t have to wait around the baggage carousel and juggle all of the pieces yourself.
Another reason The Liberty is so popular is its slate of regular events, called LIberty Affairs. The offerings are complimentary, which draws in locals and guests who want to partake in Major Mondays for live blues music, the Gallery Night Series to take in art exhibits on Tuesdays, Whole Note Wednesdays for acoustic jazz, Fashionably Late Thursdays for fashion shows and Saturday-morning yoga classes.
The Food and Drinks
Alibi may make this luxury hotel a nightlife destination, but don’t overlook the other restaurants and bars here. Head to chef Lydia Shire’s warm, contemporary Scampo for Italian, whether you crave a selection from the mozzarella bar (like one that comes with prosciutto, carimanola fritters, avocado, mango and lime), brick-oven pizza, one of the many spaghetti dishes (from carbonara to vongole) or a meatier entrée (Colorado wagyu skirt steak and Jersey beefsteak tomato with warm French sea salted butter).
Sit in one of the intimate jail-cells-turned-dining-nooks at Clink for modern American food with seasonal, local ingredients. Expect dishes like black pasta with scallops, salami, chili and sea-urchin-lobster butter. Helmed by chef Anthony Dawodu, Clink is an all-day dining venue, and also serves late-night bites (a convenient spot after Alibi) and weekend brunch, where an elaborate do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar with more than 20 different hot sauces and a bevvy of other ingredients displayed outside of the restaurant lures you inside.
Other than Alibi, you have other places where you can imbibe. Right outside Clink on the main lobby floor, The Liberty Bar allows you to sip a Blackstone (a Boston-inspired libation with tea-infused Michter’s Rye, aperol, sweet vermouth and orange bitters) in the midst of all of the action. When the weather heats up, visit the Boston hotel’s private courtyard, The Yard, to sit on sofas and cool off with pitchers of frozen cocktails or Yard margaritas (strawberry-basil-infused white and red wine). But the best option if you’re a staying at The Liberty is Catwalk. The hotel-guests-only bar overlooking the lobby serves dinner from Clink and ensures that you will have a perch in one of the hottest spots in town.