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June 06, 2008

Boston: Liberty Hotel

Liberty Hotel
Prison never looked so good

Every May, Conde Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

A $150 million makeover of the Charles Street Jail produced this swank 298-room hotel. The main 1851 building retains many of the architectural elements of its penal days, including the 90-foot central atrium; the bar Alibi is housed within the prison's drunk tank and has restored cell blocks and original iron-bar doors. As you ride up the escalator to the lobby, you're greeted by a light-filled cupola, which was rebuilt based on the original blueprints. Rooms in the former penitentiary have character, while those in the new 16-story tower feel comparatively ordinary, with their muted color palette and tight quarters. All rooms, however, are outfitted with HD-LCD TVs, VoIP telephones, and MP3 docks. Everyone assembles for evening cocktails at Clink, the lobby bar, an open space set with plush armchairs and leather banquettes. After dinner, the party continues downstairs at Alibi, where a line usually winds out the door. Hotel guests, meanwhile, can walk right in with a room key in handconsider it one of the perks of solitary confinement.

When to go: A year-round destination, Boston is especially pretty in the fall.       

Which room to book: Request one of the 18 rooms in the landmark jail building with exposed brick and small holes where the bars used to be. Nos. 332 and 432 have views of the city and the hotel's cupola through floor-to-ceiling arched windows.

Further reading:
* The Liberty Hotel website
* Hot List 2008 
* A special Boston nibble
* Boston cocktails

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