Understanding the luxury of the hotel rooms and condos at Raffles Boston Hotel & Residences will simply be a matter of glancing at price tags.
When it debuts this summer, the $400 million-plus Raffles (40 Trinity Place) will have the most expensive hotel rooms in Boston. Hotel developers Gary Saunders and Jordan Warshaw weren’t keen to talk numbers, but after a fair amount of prodding, they offered up a few details.
“Our rates will be the highest in the city because we believe we’ll have the most unique and special product in the city,” Saunders said. Hotel rates vary wildly by season, but generally, ultra-luxury rooms in Boston run in the mid- to high-hundreds to just over $1,000 per night.
“When you see them, I think you’ll understand why,” added Warshaw. “That’s why we expect these to be at the upper end of what’s being charged in Boston.”
Boston is the first North American location for the luxury hotel brand. The 35-story hotel will have 147 guest rooms plus 146 residences. With its five restaurants and bars, Saunders said it will be like a mini city located inside the gleaming glass tower. If you prefer to take up residence here, pied-á-terres begin at $1.1 million. Two bedrooms and larger start at $3.9 million. Penthouses will set you back more than $10 million. More than 75 percent of the condos have already been sold.
“But it’s more than that,” Warshaw said. “We’ve created a vertical neighborhood. It’s a place that instantly makes you feel special.”
To get a sense of what makes the hotel so special (otherwise known as expensive), we rang up the design team at Stonehill Taylor. The New York-based firm was responsible for the look of the interiors of the hotel (with the exception of the Long Bar, which was designed by Paolo Ferrari). The company has also handled interior design for the TWA Hotel, the Nomad in New York, and the Plaza Hotel in New York.
Paul Taylor, president of the firm, said incorporating Boston influences was front of mind in the creative process. He said they picked up on the local natural surroundings and translated them into the design.
“There’s the Fredrick Law Olmsted-designed Emerald Necklace right there, along with all of the window boxes in Beacon Hill,” Taylor said. “So we went toward a biophilic theme as one of the design pillars. Another aspect we incorporated was copper, a reference to Paul Revere’s copper plating mill. The last of the design pillars we looked at was the Boston Public Library, specifically the colonnade.” (”Biophilic” is a term that refers to incorporating nature-inspired elements into design.)
Taylor sounded most excited about the hotel’s Sky Lobby. Guests enter the hotel on the street level, and take an express elevator to the lobby on the 17th floor. The Sky Lobby sports a three-story staircase that looks more like a massive sculpture than a means of going up a flight or two.
“I think of it as a town center,” he said. “Even if you’re not staying at Raffles, there’s still a lot to do at the hotel. You’ve got fine dining, you have the Long Bar, a speakeasy. There’s a panoramic terrace that’s carved out of the building, so you can actually sit outside, on the 17th floor.”
The hotel’s version of Boston’s window boxes are the plants that will dramatically cascade into the Sky Lobby. But there are elements that reflect the outside throughout. A dramatic branch-like chandelier hangs in the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, Amar; it looks like a tree blossoming with light.
The 147 guest rooms, including the 30 suites, are designed to make the most of the views. Imagine the shape of each room as a slice of pie, with the most narrow part of the room serving as the entrance, and the wider area at the windows. Average guest rooms are about 475 square feet each. The hotel suites vary in size, with the largest, called the Midnight Suite, offering a kitchen and a bathtub large enough for a small party. Most guest rooms have curved sofas with a dining/work table.
In the marble bathrooms, murals were printed behind free-standing tubs. Even though they were printed off-site, artists came to the hotel and painted embellishments on them, making each unique. The art was inspired by Harvard’s Ware Collection of glass flowers and plants.
“Those are the typical guest rooms,” said Bethany Gale, interiors design director at Stonehill Taylor. “The 15 gallery suites have darker, more avant-garde approach to the design. The 14 garden suites really relate to the Emerald Necklace and the Greenway. It has a very botanical influence.”
The hotel’s presidential suite, which has a kitchen and a fireplace, references Paul Revere with copper accents. The nightly rate for the suite will likely start between $10,000 to $15,000 a night.
Gale is quick to point out that the local references, such as Revere and the Emerald Necklace, are used sparingly throughout the hotel.
“We wanted to be really careful about that,” she said. “If you take things too literally, it can get very cheesy quickly. We wanted to be respectful, but not take a literal approach.”
Beyond those influences, the team at Stonehill Taylor also took a broader read of Boston’s energy. Gale said she was looking to create spaces that had a timeless, classic feel, and that also tapped into the academic energy of the city. She said the firm was not looking to come to Boston and create a flashy New York-style hotel. Instead, the aesthetic for Boston was tailored. That’s in addition to creating a hotel that feels both luxurious and timeless.
“You can’t just throw money at something and make it luxurious,” Taylor said. “We’re also not trying to chase the next big design trend with this property. You want a place to have staying power, and I think we’ve done that with this project. I’m hoping timeless luxury is what people see and feel when they’re here.”