The Godfrey Hotel at 505 Washington Street is ushering in a new look to Downtown Crossing. While it's a construction site now, the Oxford Capital Group has some grand plans for the 242-room boutique that both honors its heritage and heralds the surrounding neighborhood's (hoped-for) future. The Gothic exterior, formed from the combined facades of the historic Blake and Amory buildings, was built in two phases in 1904 and 1908. Architect Arthur Hunnewell Bowditch, who also built the Art Deco-style Paramount Theater a few doors down, showcased his signature terra-cotta work. While these buildings originally housed garment industry offices on the upper floors and retail shops on the first four floors (hello Woolworth and Adam's Pharmacy), it fell relatively empty in recent years. Just a liquor store and a smattering of other tenants were left before the location was tapped to be a home for hospitality.
The AAA Four Diamond destination is all about contrasts. Once you've passed from the Classical style of the ornate building, you meet a distinct smoothness: sleek materials shaped from marble, granite, and oak paneling. Working with Finegold Alexander Architects on the restoration, the Gettys Group designed the mid-century interior in a cool palette of grays, whites, and browns, punctuated by a splash of orange.
The rooms, of which there are more than 50 variations in layout, follow the same aesthetic. There is a distinct feeling of austerity and coolness that emanates from those plaid headboards and Frette linens. Where is the energy and warmth? Well, it's not going to come from the color or the texture of the furniture; it's supposed to come from you. In theory, weary travelers will absorb the fun, frenetic hustle of Downtown Crossing, and can balance the energy overload of the city with the calmness of the room. Guests will see for themselves how this feels in practice. For the rooms with oversized windows, there will certainly be a stage that streams in the spontaneity of Washington Street.
To diffuse the environment outside, an undercurrent of technology propels the Godfrey. In the works is an app that allows you to check in, get your access key, upgrade your room, change your check-out time, try a different view, and order food—all from your smartphone. Service without having to say a word could be quite the dream, if it all works well.
But if you do need the front desk, they figure that you'll really want the craft bar next to it, which will serve up some specialty cocktails. And if it's too early for one of those, then you can walk into the artisan coffee shop. Coffee flights? Check. Education center? Yes. Single-estate? Of course. Latte to go? Sure. Open late? Until 10 p.m., according to owner George Howell, himself the inventor of the famed Frappuccino. Not bad. A restaurant that's still under wraps is also coming in.
The Godfrey is a brand whose promise helps you to "discover your element," which translates into an interior inspired by organic elements. Its opening in fall 2015 should be an essential building block to creating a constant community presence in a neighborhood that's been waiting a long time for rebirth.
· Website: the Godfrey [Oxford Capital]
· Godfrey Hotel Will Soon Join a Changing Downtown Crossing [Curbed Boston]
· The Tower That Hopes to Remake Downtown Crossing [Curbed Boston]