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Christopher Muther

Boston’s newest hotel dares you to go bare

The Alise Boston is located in the former Chandler Inn in the South End.
The Alise Boston is located in the former Chandler Inn in the South End. Gregg Shupe/ShupeStudios.

For years, I’ve operated under the assumption that there are certain things you just don’t do in hotel rooms. You don’t walk around barefoot, you don’t touch the telephone on the wall next to the toilet (why are those even there?), and you never, absolutely ever, sleep with the comforter on the bed.

I’ve seen plenty of gotcha-style television reporters walk into hotels with ultraviolet lights, flash them around, and find all manner of stains on hotel bedspreads and comforters. I’m too much of a gentleman to speculate on what those stains may be, but I welcome you to use your imagination and draw appropriate (or inappropriate) conclusions.

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When I’m in a hotel, I fold down any suspicious looking comforters to make sure no exterior portion of it can get near my skin. If I’m in a low-brow hotel, I get the thing off the bed completely. Who knows what kind of nefarious activities have taken place on it, or when it was last laundered. I know some people who travel with a sleep sack, which is like a silk sleeping bag used under the sheets to completely avoid touching hotel bedding.

Although there are some chains, such as Marriott, Renaissance, and the Hampton Inn that launder duvet covers after each guest, they are the exception.

So when I saw that a new hotel in Boston called the Alise was touting “the naked experience” I was suspicious. And by suspicious, I mean queasy. Not only does the Alise advocate that you swaddle yourself in the duvet, it encourages you to engage in this activity in the buff. As I read about the concept on the hotel’s website, I immediately started to feel itchy.

The PG-13 description reads “. . . the Naked Experience is designed to make you feel secure, safe, and uninhibited — a place where you can frolic with abandon.”

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“And it’s all crazy clean. So go ahead, get naked.”

In a screen shot from a promotional video for the Alise Boston, a guest arrives and falls back onto the duvet after a chambermaid has washed all the bedding.
In a screen shot from a promotional video for the Alise Boston, a guest arrives and falls back onto the duvet after a chambermaid has washed all the bedding. Staypineapple

In the event that the clean and naked combo isn’t clear to potential customers, the hotel created a cute video showing a chambermaid in headphones dancing about cleaning the room and washing all the bedding. Shortly after cleaning, a guest arrives and falls back onto the duvet. As I watched this unfold, a tiny voice in my head instinctually screamed “Jiminy Christmas! Get off of that duvet!”

The newly-opened Alise Boston and its naked experience are part of a Seattle-based boutique hotel chain called Staypineapple. It’s a playful chain with cheeky maxims such as “Where others are continental breakfast, we’re cupcakes and popcorn.” It’s located in the former Chandler Inn in the South End.

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I’ve never shied away from a challenge, particularly when an editor tells me to do it, so I booked a room at the Alise and prepared to get naked. As a germaphobic precautionary measure, I purchased a UV flashlight before my stay. The hotel did not know I was a travel writer and I received no special treatment.

I checked into my room, immediately turned off all the lights, pulled down the shades, and got to work with the UV flashlight. I imagined I was a mustachioed reporter from a 1980s television news magazine waiting for evidence of past indiscretions to glow guiltily under the purple light.

Travel writer Christopher Muther shines an ultraviolet light on bedding at the Alise to check its cleanliness.
Travel writer Christopher Muther shines an ultraviolet light on bedding at the Alise to check its cleanliness.Christopher Muther

I inspected every stitch of the duvet and pillows with the flashlight. They were clean. When I couldn’t find anything, I started pulling the duvet out of its cover. Still nothing. I took the flashlight to the sheets. Those were clean as well. I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed. I wanted to loudly exclaim “Aha!” and storm down to the lobby and confront a flustered clerk with the evidence.

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Instead, I was left to my own naked devices.

In addition to the titillating marketing of the naked experience, the Alise is playing up something a bit more wholesome. The hotel has adopted the Scandinavian concept of placing two folded duvets on the bed. That means you and your partner or spouse each have your own duvet. The idea is that you fold the duvet over yourself rather than climbing under a sheet and blankets. The advantage is that you’re not playing tug-of-blanket-war with your bedmate all night.

Staypineapple claims to be the only national hospitality brand to offer the European-style double duvet bedding.

I was sleeping single in a king bed, so there was no issue sharing the duvet. But I was still facing the prospect of sleeping in a duvet in my birthday suit. This went against every hotel instinct I had. In the interest of keeping my job, I ignored my instincts and got into bed naked. OK fine, I left my skivvies on.

The hotel has adopted the Scandinavian concept of placing two folded duvets on the bed.
The hotel has adopted the Scandinavian concept of placing two folded duvets on the bed.Staypineapple

The bedding at the Alise was incredibly soft and the duvet toasty. I drifted off hoping that my UV flashlight had done its job. It’s now been a week since my stay, and I’m happy to report that I found no strange rashes or bites following my stay. In case you’re averse to the Scandinavian sleep method, each room also has a blanket and top sheet tucked away in the night stand.

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The Alise Boston is still under renovation and won’t be complete until the end of 2018, so it’s not ready for an official review. I can tell you that my room — called the Back Bay King — was small, and I suspect room sizes won’t change. I paid an introductory rate of $169 for the night.

Much like the bedding, the towels were incredibly soft. Based on photos of other Staypineapple properties, I’m guessing the South End location will become a bit more posh than it was during its Chandler Inn days. When I checked in, I didn’t see popcorn and cupcakes, but you can eat in the restaurant/bar downstairs from the hotel. It’s called the Trophy Room.

The Alise’s naked experience is gimmicky for sure, but I like that the gimmick promises all parts of the bed are laundered. It’s nice to know, naked or not, that the duvet can be used and not shunned like a scary clown at a child’s birthday party.


Christopher Muther can be reached at muther@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther and on Instagram @Chris_Muther.