Fall Travel: The Liberty Hotel, Boston, MA

Give Me Liberty
The Liberty Hotel, Boston, MA

A trendy Beacon Hill crowd starts to arrive at the Liberty Hotel lobby. You grab a drink from the lobby bar—perhaps a Juniper Blossom, made of Tanqueray, St. Germain, and grapefruit—and look out onto the soaring four-story atrium. The grand space is marked with towering arched windows, wrought-iron chandeliers, and mahogany furniture. If you didn’t know, you might never guess that the place was once a jail.

Yes, until the 1990s, the hotel was the old Charles Street Jail, which housed inmates such as Sacco and Vanzetti and James Michael Curley (who was imprisoned there for fraud but ran a successful campaign for alderman while he was interred). Developer Carpenter and Company and architect Cambridge Seven Associates teamed up to repurpose the property. The old cellblocks are now stylish catwalks with sitting areas for guests, the original “drunk tank” has (fittingly) been turned into a bar, and some of the original jail cells are now dining nooks at the on-site restaurants. Eighteen of the 298 guest rooms also are set up within the landmark jail building (with the rest in a newly constructed 16-story tower).

While there are many nods to the Liberty Hotel’s history, thankfully, there’s nothing prison-like about the guest accommodations. Spa-like is more apt, with luxurious bathrooms with separate deep bathtubs and rainfall showerheads. And, with a spot right at the foot of the Longfellow Bridge, many of these rooms look out over the Charles River.

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