Langham, Boston Puts Its Classical Yet Modern Elegance On Display

My favorite memories from a recent press familiarization trip hosted by the Langham, Boston hotel have to be the times spent at the property’s Café Fleuri. While three-plus days in and around Boston, the quintessential Colonial America city, provided plenty of captivating sights and sounds, details of which are listed here, pure, unadulterated joy came from delicious sustenance at Sunday City Brunch and the extravagant Saturday Chocolate Bar in the historic hotel’s elegant and sunny second-floor café.

At brunch, there was a cornucopia of Executive Chef Mark Sapienza’s delights to sample, including savory artisanal cheeses and meats and a raw bar filled with oysters on half-shells, poached shrimp, crab claws, and smoked Atlantic salmon. But I sat down with Hotel Manager Hans Schaepman and Langham Hotels International’s global director of public relations, Ainslie Cheung (who flew in from corporate headquarters in Hong Kong), to scrumptious sauteed chicken breast filet, cuts of salt-crust-roasted prime rib, and eggs Benedict. Devouring all of that still wasn’t enough to stop me from hitting the buffet’s omelet demo station for a made-to-order fluff of exotic mushrooms, country ham, and feta. That was after a round of Maine lobster ravioli and five-cheese tortellini, penne, and gnocchi, which would have filled me with regret had I not sampled them.

The day before, my eyes and taste buds were taken aback—nearly overwhelmed, even—by the Langham, Boston’s Saturday Chocolate Bar. Featuring more than 100 sweet creations, the all-you-can-eat dessert buffet was a sight to behold: a seemingly endless sea of truffles, cocoa rice cakes, whoopie pies, chocolate cannolis, and other artful confections. Spread out on elaborate display stations made of wood and glass, they were ready for their closeups taken by professional photojournalists and camera-toting guests alike, while three-foot-tall chocolate sculptures and a chocolate fountain stood as unofficial bookends to the decadent smorgasbord.

The Langham, Boston’s culinary fits the tastes and needs of discerning business groups that have been holding meetings and events there since the luxury hotel opened in 1981, in the former Federal Reserve Bank building in the heart of downtown Boston. Not only is the 318-room hotel located within minutes of attendee must-visits like Quincy Market (in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace) and the Paul Revere House (along with other sites on the Freedom Trail that recount the birth of America), but its signature red window awnings dotting a granite and limestone facade make the building an easily recognizable beacon for business travelers coming “home” after satiating some off-hour wanderlust.

During dinner at Bond, the hotel’s upscale but still casual restaurant and lounge, Langham, Boston General Manager Serge Denis remarked that both banking-and-finance and pharmaceutical groups have returned with meetings in robust numbers. He credited the rebound, in part, to the better job that the meetings industry has done in making its importance to the American economy known to Washington and the general public. Dining on a bounty of seafood under Bond’s stately crystal chandeliers and ceiling, Denis said it is vital that companies keep meeting and help drive America’s economic recovery.

The Langham, Boston gives top-end meetings a supreme level of service. That was evident one evening when I returned to the hotel late—after some impromptu shopping along famous Newbury St. in the Back Bay district—and discovered that my press group had already left for dinner in Italian-enclave North End. Recognizing who I was, the Clefs d’Or concierge promptly put some cash in my hand, hailed a cab for me, and told me the restaurant at which I would rejoin my cohorts. Had I been a meeting attendee, the Langham, Boston would have brought that same impeccable attention to as many as 599 peers—since 600 delegates constitute an entire group buyout of the hotel.

The hotel provides up to 10,000 square feet of function space, an in-house audio/visual supplier, and an assigned convention services manager (which the hotel dubs Dedicated Event Specialist) for each visiting meeting planner and her group. A planner also gets a complimentary local cell phone and on-site office—behind-the-scenes conveniences that help her meetings go off without a hitch. The Wilson ballroom, at just over 3,000 square feet and with a reception capacity of 400, is the property’s biggest function space.

Whether they’re gathering in the meeting spaces or retiring among the hotel’s 318 guest rooms, Beantown attendees can look forward to signature touches of the Langham brand, which are fusions of 19th-century European salon elegance and modernity. The meeting spaces and guest quarters alike have Wi-Fi, while the former also have T1 communications lines, hidden behind charming Old World décor and architecture. Guest quarters are tiered into four levels—Classic, Superior, Deluxe, and Executive—while 17 suites range from Loft to Contemporary to Presidential. One-third of the hotel’s guest accommodations offer views of Boston’s skyline.

The larger guest rooms boast “business-size” work desks of glossy wood, but all of them sport iPod docking stations/alarm clock radios by iHome, 37-inch flat LCD televisions, Italian marble baths, plush bathrobes, and beds with high-thread-count linens. Thick and heavy window curtains and draperies block out noise and light to contribute to serene private environments for resting and relaxing attendees. Golden-framed, oversized mirrors play accomplice to guests when getting ready before stepping out for business affairs or entertainment. VIPs don’t have to become baristas in order to enjoy tasty caffeinated beverages from the 1,586-square-foot Presidential Suite’s complimentary Nespresso machine.

In the surprising case that those amenities still can’t soothe and refresh the spirit, the Langham, Boston’s Chuan Body + Soul spa might have the solution. The intimate retreat’s signature massages are based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine and the five elemental forces of fire, earth, water, metal, and wood. After filling out a short questionairre that peeked into my physical and mental states, I was led by my therapist into a luxurious treatment room with a light aromatherapy scent and through a calming pre-massage tea ritual. She told me that my massage would focus on my principal element of wood, deduced through my survey answers. The next 60 indulgent minutes went by much too quickly, just like my time in Boston.