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Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts 

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215 Charles Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 224 4000
view web site ›'s insider take:

Once home to Boston's most feared and reviled citizens, this remarkable granite structure on the Charles River is now populated by executives and trendsetters. The mid-19th-century jailhouse was deemed unfit for habitation in the early 1970s, eventually shuttered, and reopened in 2007 by hotel developer Richard Friedman, of Charles Hotel fame. Elements of the building's previous life remain, such as the 90-foot-high central rotunda (now the lobby), catwalks linking public spaces, and wrought-iron bars in the hallways. Most of the "inmates" now reside in a 16-story addition, where the rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, streamlined mahogany furniture, and granite-and-glass bathrooms stocked with Molton Brown toiletries. Of the 298 rooms, 18 are in the jail building—they have the same amenities as the new Tower rooms, but with dramatic arched windows and exposed brick. The food is also much improved, thanks to Lydia Shire's upscale trattoria, Scampo (derived from the Italian for "escape"). Even though lockdown is voluntary and Champagne is served upon arrival, there is one thing about the place that hasn't changed—you still have to pay a hefty "bail" to get out.

From the readers of Condé Nast Traveler:
This "unique and charming" Beacon Hill hotel was built incorporating the structure of the nineteenth-century Charles Street Jail. The design includes a "spacious atrium lobby" with a wrought iron chandelier. "Large and traditional" rooms in pale rose and taupe have stained mahogany headboards and artwork in sepia tones. Staff "are friendly and helpful." The chef at Clink combines European technique with seasonal American ingredients offering artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, and appetizers such as veal-and-ricotta meatball sliders—the "food is very good and priced thus." The bar under the 90-foot lobby rotunda, with preserved cells, is "extremely lively and filled with locals."

(298 rooms)
—2011 Gold List
Overall Score: 87.5
  • Design: 95.6
  • Food: 84.1
  • Location: 82.0
  • Rooms: 91.1
  • Service: 84.4
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From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:

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 hand—consider it one of the perks of solitary confinement.

—2008 Hot List

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