When you throw in the term “five star” there’s unavoidable expectation. How does a property clearly identify itself as a five star hotel and differentiate from the increasingly competitive, and more reasonably priced four star offerings?.
Well, after a flawless stay at the Langham Chicago, which may be one of the very best hotels in America, we checked into the Langham Boston and unfortunately, we were left wanting and wondering all of the questions above…
The property, located in Boston’s financial district is instantly appealing, in part because it was once the Federal Reserve. It offers a very stately feel with unique architectural design elements, including a nifty bar with extremely high ceilings and money everywhere, a homage to days of old.
Lang bos lobby #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Entry into the lobby reveals a nicely appointed, clean space with elements of contemporary luxury and style, interesting textures and clever lighting. At this point we were excited for yet another finely tuned Langham stay.
Unfortunately, check in was the first sign that this hotel suffers from soft touch problems. I was given a very rigid, borderline cold reception until the end of the check in process, when the clerk realized that I have the highest publicly available Langham frequent guest status. The mood was too instantly different and gave a bad disingenuous taste.
I booked the largest possible room type, in part because I get free upgrades, and the only way to go from largest standard room is a suite. Well played eh? The room had some style and substance, but much like the hallways (not pictured), it felt to be a bit of a period piece, in need of modern touch.
Lang bos bed #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
I completely understand that people love this era of luxury, but in my under educated opinion, I feel that these rooms lack the grandeur of the Versailles style opulence of old, which many enjoy, while also lacking the modern touches of… say… the rooms at the Langham Chicago. It’s possible to marry classic style with contemporary functionality, and this was not accomplished here.
Sure, the photos look great, but that’s a matter of (personal) pride and personal style. The room offered frustrating issues in two forms: extremely slow wifi, and no power ports at the bedside. Well, at least no power ports near the bedside that didn’t involve pushing a chest of drawers back or bending down and performing some yoga moves to reach the plug. This is so basic and logical it makes my head spin.
As the pictures allude, the room took on a far more charming and appealing feel in the evening. With the curtains drawn the room tones became warmer and mixed with dim lighting, revealed a softer side to virtually everything. During daylight the room just seemed tired, which is a problem since daylight lasts roughly 12 hours a day.
Lang bos suite view #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
All in all the suite was nicely laid out and very unique. The building is known for angled walls in its higher floors, part of the original Federal Reserve design and I enjoyed the individual nature of the space. Good sitting area, nice table, all good.
For a hotel geared toward business travelers, in the business district of Boston, I found it totally insane not to have power ports next to the bedside and to have noticeably slow internet. I’m not one of these travel bloggers uploading gigabytes of video, I’m just someone who watches Netflix and chills (anyone reading still?) and this should not be a challenge.
The Langham is such a successful brand built on service and unfortunately I felt hugely let down by this property in that regard. I am not a traveler who expects mountains to be moved. Most properties have no idea (or interest) in who I am, which is perfectly normal, but as a top tier frequent guest, I do come to expect things promised in my membership benefits.
Guests at the Voyager tier in Langham’s 1865 loyalty program are offered a welcome amenity of their choosing. It can be chocolates, red or white wine, beer, local amenity or a few other options and I have mine permanently set to red wine. Go figure. I enquired as to whether the hotel planned to honor my welcome amenity, which was not delivered on arrival, and after a delay they brought chocolates. The man who brought them even had the nerve to say “oh, well we already brought you water and fruit”, to which he decided to keep his refreshed water and fruit offering. These are small details, but ones that the Langham chooses to offer. There’s no reason not to execute these details with ease.
To make things even more comically old fashioned the outlets for the coffee machine didn’t seem to turn on. I plugged them in to one socket, then the next, no luck. Finally, I realized that on a wall around the corner there was a light switch. At long last we had coffee, mainly because there was no Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea stocked! It was clear the rooms were not being refreshed properly, yet another sign of oversight, or total lack thereof.
Unlike most suites which offer bathrooms the size of a standard guest room, this one offered a space smaller than those found in most mini guest rooms! The products featured the luxurious Chuan spa range and the tap water was drinkable, but outside of stealing some shampoo there was not much to get excited about.
Lang bos Bathroom #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
The door for this restroom was inward facing, which meant that after opening the door, you needed to do a shuffle past the door to turn the corner to the shower and toilet. Again, small touch, but I don’t think Langham suite guests are generally accustomed to practicing their shimmy just to take a shower…
If We Had To Be Picky…
As someone who stays in hotels every week I don’t think these issues were isolated. I think that there’s a system of mediocrity in place at the hotel.
This is something that started with the doormen, who couldn’t be assed to open the door unless glaring eyeballs were made, to the lackluster check in, the complete failure to deliver elite perks and the common sense touches like refreshing tea selection, power ports near beds and competitive wifi; I think these problems reach a management level. I know when something feels out of character. This was not the case.
If we had to picky, we’d invest and refresh the rooms to give fresh life to a nifty property.