Time Travel: Exploring Revolutionary Boston

Time Travel: Exploring Revolutionary Boston
I should begin by saying that I live just north of Boston and work in the city. How does a Bostonian pick a hotel in her own town? Boston is a city of neighborhoods, each with a distinctive personality. It is also a small city, best explored on foot or through the sightseeing trolley system, including the famous Boston Duck Tours amphibious vehicles. My desire for proximity without hassle leads me to Boston's financial district and The Langham, Boston. If first impressions are an indicator, I've chosen well!

The building is a beauty, constructed in 1922 to house the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Its rusticated granite exterior opens into a lobby of tasteful elegance, but the treasure here is the staff. Led by William at the Concierge desk whose tenure spans 27 of the hotel's 28-year existence, the staff is unfailingly pleasant and helpful. The focus on service draws business travelers during the week and is equally appealing to the leisure guest. William is ready with maps and insiders tips to help us take full advantage of our stay.

First, however, we are anxious to settle into our room and begin the process of unwinding. Ours is on the ninth (top) floor overlooking the Post Office Square gardens. As we enter, sunshine pours through windows that span an entire wall and curve upward to become a skylight. Equally welcoming are the couch and chair with ottoman, positioned to take full advantage of the light and the view. Within minutes I am curled up with my book, my husband stretched out with the newspaper. When it is time to shower and change, I discover yet another perk -- a bathroom mirror that stays unfogged!

This evening we plan to meet another couple at Sel de la Terre, a French restaurant near the Aquarium along the waterfront. It's a ten-minute stroll from the Langham and our route takes us on the Greenway, a new pedestrian walkway created by the Big Dig construction project. The highway that once divided this part of the city is now underground, replaced by trees, benches, and green spaces. On this warm fall evening, the Greenway is noticeably underused, as though Bostonians are only beginning to discover their good fortune.

I wake the next day to an autumn morning so glorious it must be spent outdoors. We decide to get reacquainted with the Freedom Trail, a brick pathway that leads to 16 of Boston's top historical landmarks including stops at several old burial grounds. Did I mention it is October 31? Meandering among the old headstones looking for John Hancock and Mother Goose seems particularly fitting. The 2.5-mile Trail ends in Charlestown at the Bunker Hill Monument and we hop on the Inner Harbor Ferry in the Charlestown Navy Yard for a quick ride back to Boston Long Wharf (another great suggestion from William).

The Langham's Chocolate Buffet is the highlight of our afternoon. For Halloween it has been renamed the Boo-ffet and moved into the Wyeth Room, once the opulent lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank. Today the gilded dome ceiling and enormous wall murals by N.C Wyeth provide the backdrop for the host of ghouls serving up every imaginable chocolate delight. Adults join an excited flock of costumed youngsters who fill their plates more than once. Also on hand is an artist who offers complementary cartoon drawings of guests. Everyone leaves with a smile on his or her face -- even those (like us) who know their next stop better be the gym!

That evening we walk to Faneuil Hall Marketplace for a light supper and then return for a nightcap in the Langham's Bond Lounge. The décor includes handsome lithographs of the Founding Fathers who would, no doubt, be amazed to find themselves amidst such grandeur. Our revolutionary ancestors banished British troops from this side of the Atlantic but at the Langham we reconnect with the elegance and sophistication that is part of our mutual heritage.

We decide to cap off our weekend with the Langham's renowned Sunday Jazz Brunch. This brunch has won numerous awards but as veterans of the brunches found in top Asian hotels, we are determined to reserve judgment. An initial walk-through reveals an impressive display of choice and presentation. First samplings confirm that we have found something special. By the time we are done, we've found the brunch we will recommend to friends and family as our personal "best ever."

Our plates are whisked away. We sip a final cup of coffee and mellow to the jazz trio playing in an alcove above us. It is the ideal way to end a weekend that we will remember as a delightful mix of history, culture...and indulgence.

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