I just returned from a trip to Boston and can't wait to tell you all about it. I am sitting at my desk, my mind flooded with thoughts, pictures and ideas and don't know where to begin. Traveling to great cities and places is always inspiring to me and I usually bring back new ideas that creep into my work as a designer. This trip is no exception. You may be wondering why on earth I would choose to go to Boston in January when I could be enjoying the temperate clime of Pawleys Island. I can assure you it was not because I miss sub-freezing temperatures and biting winds, rather the timing of my trip was dictated by my daughter's schedule. She was accepted to Boston College as a transfer student and orientation was last week. I now have two daughters in Boston which is fantastic because it is a city that I love to visit. Having attended college in Massachusetts also, my relationship with the place goes back more than a few years.
Although I am quite familiar with this old New England city, this time I was particularly struck by its atmosphere and personality. To me, Boston is a tweed coat wearing, tobacco pipe smoking (does anyone even do that anymore????), wise professor with a twinkle in his eye and a head full of ideas. Boston is a no-nonsense, serious place, teeming with students running in tights and anoraks or rushing off to class or work with scarves wrapped around their necks, hair pulled up off their faces and horn rimmed glasses perched on their noses. Although it is filled with young people, owing to the plethora of colleges and universities located there, it is old, solid, and full of history. Everywhere you look, you see vestiges of the past, places where important things in our country's history happened. This is not a place where the silly, faddish and the trendy are worshipped. However, it is also not a place that is stuck in the past and is out of touch with the new and current. I think Boston provides the solid ground of tradition out of which the "new" can spring. This sounds a bit intellectual so let's bring it into the realm of the practical with a case study of the foundation of the old over-layed with the new.
The Eliot Hotel just off of Newbury Street embodies this old but new thing. My older daughter suggested that I stay there this time because she happened upon it while waiting to catch the bus back to Wellesley in the middle of the night after a frat party at MIT. The exterior is solid and imposing with its stone and brick Georgian façade and black iron fence and railing, but the golden glow of the lights burning brightly and the sheltering awning beckon, "Come inside".
Inside, the lobby is the epitome of traditional elegance with its limestone walls, marble flooring, and twinkling mirrors and sconces. Nothing new here, you might be thinking. But wait, look again. Come closer to the wall and notice that the stone is not real, but rather an illusion created with paint. And notice how the furnishings and fixtures are all proper and what one would expect to find in any proper Georgian entry hall- a pair of commodes, with mirrors above, flanked by a pair of lamps - but notice how the proportions are different. The commodes are stretched up and out like play dough and the curves of the mirrors are exaggerated almost cartoon-ishly.
And don't miss the use of mirror in the traditional fan light behind the broken pediment, which is actually on top of the fan light! This is different. This is unexpected. This is new. At least to me!
I am more than a little infatuated with this hotel. I love just about everything about it! I love the contrast of the modern art against the historic architecture; I love the Faux leather wrapped elevators; I love the black iron and polished brass railings; I love the way the desk is tucked discreetly off to the side of the lobby; I love the feel of the heavy brass room key in my hand and the layout of the guest rooms which, although not expansive, each have their own entry foyer. Most of all I love that, as in any proper English Georgian residence, dogs are welcome. I hope that there are rooms available in May when Charlotte graduates from Wellesley so the entire family can come - including my Irish Jack Russell (which is another story to be told another day), Ryelee.