Morgans Hotel Group Co. (NASDAQ: MHGC) (“Morgans”) opens Ames in Boston, the latest addition to the company’s collection of Originals.
Benjamin Franklin meets a supermodel with Morgans Hotel Group’s newest property, Ames in Boston. Morgans Hotel Group, known for introducing the boutique hotel with the opening of Morgans in 1984, is making its next bold move by bringing its provocative style to this rich and historic city. Ames represents a singular and authentic addition to Morgans’ collection of Originals: a carefully curated group of hotels which also includes Morgans, Royalton, Hudson, St Martins Lane, Clift and Shore Club. This collection is a group of properties that are distinctive in their unique personalities, but unified by their shared traits of unmistakable, inspired and unrestrained daring. Ames, designed by Rockwell Group in collaboration with the Morgans design team, is a rich blend of historical reference and up-to-date modernism, of old-world aesthetics and contemporary luxury, and of dedicated homage to history and forward-thinking innovation.
The original Romanesque-Byzantine inspired structure operated as the corporate headquarters for the Ames families’ agricultural tool company, a history that Rockwell Group and Morgans’ design team have adopted and interpreted through an entirely modern lens. “I cannot imagine a better opportunity to design our first hotel in Boston than working with Morgans Hotel Group and Normandy Real Estate Partners on the transformation of the historic, 19th century Ames building into a hotel,” said David Rockwell, “We really wanted our design to reflect a contrast of eras, where the historical context and Ames family history would merge with a modern framework to bring a fresh, new experience to the hospitality market in Boston.” The elegance and strength resonated by the city served as both inspiration and temptation to the design team who preserved stunning original fixtures such as the staircase, the lobby mosaic and the robust exterior, but selectively streamlined other aspects of the aesthetic and devotedly focused attention to detail and a sense of narrative continuity throughout the entire hotel.
The story begins in the lobby, which features two original landmark elements: the mosaic, barrel-vaulted ceiling and the dramatic marble and brass staircase. The “Mirror Chandelier” or “Mirror Cloud” installation, a fragmented sculpture created for Ames by London based artists Sophie Nielsen and Rolf Knudsen of Studio Roso, punctuates the drama of the lobby. Based on the ephemeral qualities of nature and the multiplying structural quality of a tree, the piece is inspired by the existing pattern in the vaulted ceiling, which also references nature. The chandelier compliments this pattern so that the existing space and the installation become one. Comprised of thousands of metalized discs, which mirror the light and color of its surroundings, the piece creates a cacophony of light and shadow reflections, creating a theatrical experience and an ever-changing environment. On the wall behind the reception area is an installation made up of many pieces of hand cast porcelain alluding to the building’s structure. Created by artist Draga Šušanj, this site-specific work made for Ames references its multiple arches and the new life of the building. Just off of the lobby, the two-story restaurant pays homage to the modern-day dandy through its confidence, playfulness and rich aesthetic details.
Woodward, Morgans’ new restaurant-bar concept for Ames, will broaden the range of luxury experience at the hotel with premiere quality food and drink. Named for a tavern once housed in the Ames family home, Woodward will fascinate guests with its clever “Cabinet of Curiosities”. The Victorian-inspired display is curated with hand-selected objects of inspiration and eye candy by Boston local artist Sally Brooks Moore, and will introduce a stylish compliment to Ames juxtaposition of historical building with modern interior. Each features a main bar as well as a dining area, with finishes inspired by bespoke men’s tailoring with subtle unexpected details. Windsor chairs, in high gloss white lacquer finish, will be scattered throughout the restaurant, complimenting the wood paneled walls washed in a milky enamel. The textural playfulness counterpoints the sleekness of the lobby and adds a surprising lightness to the sophistication of this dining experience. The regional ingredient-driven menu by Executive Chef Mark Goldberg is designed for sharing over a lively table of world-class, handcrafted cocktails, the latest inspiration from Morgans’ master mixologist, John Lermayer. Backed by twenty years of experience in partner Seth Greenberg, owner of Mistral and Co-Founder of Boston Common Magazine, Woodward will be a coveted, new Boston destination, and yet another success story for Morgans’ renowned collection of restaurants and bars.
Located in the heart of the city, this 114-room hotel offers 107 guest rooms, one apartment and six deluxe one-bedroom suites. Stepping off of the elevator into the corridors, guests are immediately transfixed by a “Pepper’s ghost” illusion, a theatrical inference of an illuminated, crystal chandelier, seemingly floating behind the mirrored wall. The rooms, entered into through a classically dark entry vestibule, are simple, serene, and quiet. The illumination and levity of the rooms are enhanced by light oak flooring, 10-foot high ceilings, a cream-colored leather upholstered platform bed, and the frosted glass that gives a fluid continuity between the main room and the bathroom. To transform the room into a delicate cocoon, guests can draw sheer curtains along the length of the window and bathroom walls. Hints of Federal Style inspiration include a desk lacquered in glossy white and nightstands adorned with lamps of black chrome, referencing the whale-oil lamps that once lit the city. Morgans’ signature sexiness is present in the sheer white drapes and the whimsical glass box bathrooms with dark porcelain tile floors. All of the guestrooms are adorned with a commissioned installation of souvenir style plates by artist and designer, Harry Allen. Allen’s inspiration came from long walks around Boston’s historic sites where he encountered many tourists and souvenir stalls. The piece is comprised of three plates, each with different graphics. One features a gold image of the Ames building, another a codfish and the third a street map of Boston. The installation also includes a quotation about Boston from “Picturesque America”, painted on the wall. The deluxe one-bedroom suites boast a sectional sofa, upholstered in black and white woven fabric and a modern, signature wingback chair in black lacquer and white leather. The dark wood floors are complimented by silver-gray, silken carpets and feature white lacquer carerra marble dining tables with white leather and metal dining chairs. The suites are both refined and intimate, with the dramatic floor-to-ceiling arched windows punctuating a sense of continuity with tradition and connecting the interior of the hotel with the historical urban Boston landscape.
The elegant 9th-floor apartment offers space for entertaining and events, featuring an expansive living and dining room, furnished with a vintage, tufted velvet chaise lounge, a sectional custom sofa and a glass and chrome cocktail table. The cream silk area rug and polished chrome four-poster bed provide comfort and luxury. Dramatically lit with a white feather drum chandelier, the space is sumptuous, generous, and breathtaking.
From the chandelier of thousands of reflective discs in the lobby to the dramatic, “Pepper’s Ghost” illusions in the corridors and the “Cabinets of Curiosity” in Woodward, Ames continues Morgans’ tradition of the “hotel as theater” and allows for a stunning relationship between ornate exterior