A Shining Beacon in Boston
When I travel, it takes a lot to persuade me to return to the same city, let alone the same hotel. There is so much to see and experience I prefer to leave monotony and routine at home. A recent weekend trip to Boston changed my mind, redefining my standard of travel and making me wish I could return again and again to one particular city, one particular hotel. Because, after all, “there’s no place like home.”
XV (“Fifteen”) Beacon is a small boutique hotel located on a stone-paved street in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. Just like the city in which it resides, Fifteen Beacon is steeped in history. The hotel is located on the site of the former Bromfield Mansion, which was built in 1722 by a wealthy Boston merchant. The building in which Fifteen Beacon is housed was originally constructed in 1903 in the turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts style. Over the years, tenants included the Boston Transit Commission, Rapid Transit Commission, and Boston School Committee. Fifteen Beacon opened for guests in 1999.
While Fifteen Beacon’s exterior retains its original architecture, its interior tells a different story. The lobby’s walls are ebony-hued in a sharp but welcome contrast to the earth-toned furniture. Contemporary artwork such as Jules Olitski’s “Green Dot” punctuates the walls with vibrant splashes of color, providing an introduction to the hotel’s multi-million dollar art collection. As Fifteen Beacon explains on its website, “Traveling can be stressful. Nothing grounds the soul like art.”
After checking in, the bellman shuttled my bags and me into the hotel’s cage elevator, which is original to the building. Upon reaching my floor, the hallway was decorated with more contemporary artwork, carrying forth the lobby’s theme to the floors above. Marble busts of political figures stared at me and felt both amusingly kitschy and historically at home inside the hotel.
The bellman opened the door to my room and . . . oh that room. It was as if the hotel’s interior designer had discovered everything I find most comfortable and luxurious and then specifically designed my Fifteen Beacon room to meet my needs.
Fifteen Beacon consists of 63 guestrooms and suites. With only seven rooms per floor, the hotel has an intimate feel, allowing guests to feel more like they are staying in their own private residence than in a hotel. In typical Fifteen Beacon style, guestrooms are a flawless blend of classic and contemporary. Generous amounts of traditional crown molding combine with tailored lines, mahogany wood, and stainless steel for sleek finishes.
Whether in a Classic room (300 square feet) or the Gilbert Stuart two-bedroom suite (1,370 square feet), Fifteen Beacon’s rooms and suites contain many of the same amenities, such as gas fireplaces, cashmere throws, Frette bed linens, complimentary wireless Internet access, 42-inch flat screen televisions, surround sound stereo systems, commissioned artwork, fresh flowers, and a Nespresso machine upon request.
The Italian marble bathroom in my Boston Common Studio room had a heated towel rack, rainforest showerhead, jetted tub, and a small flat screen television. Outside the bathroom sat the vanity with lighted makeup mirror and bath amenities that far exceeded the usual mini shampoo and conditioner set. Fifteen Beacon has its own line of custom-packaged products, including vanilla-flavored lip balm tucked inside a mirrored compact. Frette bathrobes hang in the spacious closet located just off the vanity area.
I’m not one to raid the minibar (usually), but my room was so luxurious, I had to take a quick peek inside its refrigerator. Not surprisingly, the minibar was stocked. I found bottles of wine, champagne, and premium liquors such as Ketel One and Bombay Sapphire. I also found various waters, cocktail mixers, and snacks including Boston baked beans. There were unconventional minibar items too such as Sprayology, a homeopathic sleep enhancer to cater to jet-lagged guests. When I spotted a plate of welcome cookies and chocolate-covered dried apricot and strawberries waiting for me on the desk, I promptly decided I was moving in to Fifteen Beacon.
In further temptation to never leave the hotel, Fifteen Beacon’s Mooo restaurant resides on the hotel’s ground floor. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the type of cuisine served at Mooo. But this is not your run-of-the-mill steakhouse.
Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, Mooo updates the classic steakhouse menu and pairs it with a contemporary setting. The menu showcases old favorites such as prime rib and New York sirloin alongside more modern fare including Kobe dumplings and caramelized sea scallops. As with the menu, Mooo hits that sweet spot of traditional and contemporary with its décor as well. Neutral hues on the walls and dining tables allow the sleekness of the modern dinnerware and the gold glow from the chandeliers to, literally, shine.
Mooo also has a downstairs private dining room, the “Wine Cellar,” designed for receptions and events. Guests can dine under high vaulted ceilings while admiring the caged glass walls displaying Mooo’s collection of rare and fine wines with vintages from the 1700s to the present. Another focal point in the Wine Cellar is its circa fifth century AD Roman mosaic. For an even more personal dining experience, guests staying in Fifteen Beacon’s Parlor Suites can accommodate up to 14 people for dinner in their room.
Mooo’s bar and lounge serves the full dining room menu in addition to a separate bar menu. When I stopped by the bar one afternoon for a snack, I ordered a delicious beef tenderloin flatbread with Gorgonzola and arugula. If more in the mood for imbibing than grazing, Mooo boasts an extensive wine list as well as a cocktail menu with drinks such as the Lemon Basil Martini or the Midnight Affair (Belvedere pink grapefruit, St. Germaine, fresh lime, and blackberries).
If you don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your room and that Frette bathrobe (and really, who could blame you?), Fifteen Beacon offers 24-hour room service, including the complete Mooo menu.
Fifteen Beacon’s room service menu also caters to your canine companions. The hotel is dog friendly, which is more than evident in the attention they’ve paid to the doggie details. The “Dawgone” room service menu offers dogs their choice of dishes such as the “Kobe Hound Dog” (split, grilled, and chopped Kobe hot dog with a side of Boston baked beans) and the “Lean and Keen” (grilled chicken breast with rice and broccoli).
The concierge can make dinner reservations for you while arranging dog sitting, walking, and grooming for your pup. Dogs are greeted in the room with their own plush bed and peanut butter dog biscuits made fresh daily by Fifteen Beacon’s pastry chef. Each evening, dogs receive “turndown water” along with their owner’s turndown service.
Taking the elevator up to the top floor, Fifteen Beacon’s gym is open 24 hours a day and includes treadmills, stationary bikes, and free weights. You can also visit the Boston Sports Club—which offers fitness classes including yoga, cycling, and Zumba—across the street for just $15 per day. For a more relaxing experience, Fifteen Beacon’s rooftop terrace has panoramic views of Boston while offering a quiet respite from the city. Lounge chairs on the deck provide the perfect vantage point for events such as Fourth of July fireworks and, on the weekend I was there, the Perseid meteor shower.
If you must leave the hotel, Fifteen Beacon’s perch at the crest of historic Beacon Hill is ideally situated for exploring the city. On the edge of Boston Common and one block from the Freedom Trail, Fifteen Beacon is also close to the Boston Opera House, Wang Theatre, and the upscale boutiques of Newbury Street. If you venture out a little farther than walking distance, be sure to take advantage of Fifteen Beacon’s complimentary Lexus sedan service.
Fifteen Beacon has two cars in its Lexus fleet, a GX 460 SUV and an LS 600h L hybrid sedan. My driver during my stay was Paul, who chauffeured me to area restaurants. On the way, he drove me through Boston’s historic neighborhoods, pointing out John Kerry’s Beacon Hill townhouse and giving me some additional facts about the city.
At the end of my evenings out, Paul picked me up in the Lexus sedan and dropped me off at home, er, the hotel. You thought I was kidding about moving in, didn’t you? Let’s just put it this way, I now refer to Fifteen Beacon as my home away from home.