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The Godfrey Hotel: Unpacking Downtown Crossing's New Inn

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The Godfrey Hotel officially opened in Downtown Crossing this month after a soft opening to guests in late January. After a long period of darkness, another light on Washington Street has officially turned (back) on to restore a property to its former glory. Finegold Alexander Architects, a Boston-based design firm known for its historic-preservation work, is the architect behind the 135,000-square-foot inn.

"Our firm has been adapting, preserving, restoring, and renovating a wide variety of building types since the 1960s," said Ellen Anselone, principal of Finegold Alexander Architects. "Our earliest projects helped establish national standards for saving important structures at a time when renewal meant removal. In recent years, I have seen an increasing trend in the reuse of historic buildings as hotels. We are seeing 19th- and 20th-century buildings in urban settings getting a much closer look, and we are being asked to create much more innovative and visionary designs for these projects."

The Godfrey would be one of them.

Two adjacent historic early-20th-century buildings on Washington Street were converted to create the hotel. It boasts a prewar brick-and-stone façade that honors Boston's heritage and the neighborhood as one of the oldest in the country. The exterior combines the restored masonry of the six-story Amory Building with the white terracotta 11-story Blake building. The interior includes a dramatic lobby with 16-foot ceilings and sculptural walls, a coffee-tasting bar, and new 4,600-square-foot restaurant.

But, to contrast the old world feel of the exterior, all 242 rooms in the hotel have a minimalist modern feel to them.

The mid-century interiors, designed by the Gettys Group, feature a contemporary lobby, 16-foot ceilings and sculptural walls. Everything is bathed in a neutral color wash of beige, white, gray, and tan--except for special occasions, when they saturate the walls with rich colors of blue and red light.

And there's more than an architectural feast here: There's a culinary exploration to have as well. The lobby bar serves Italian-style tapas (a.k.a. Venetian-style cicchetti) with wine, beer, tea, and coffee. And, speaking of caffeine, there is more to come. Stay tuned for the George Howell coffee shop, which is slated to open in April. As for the adjacent luxury restaurant, reps for the hotel couldn't say who it would be, other than that the restaurateur would be high-energy and fun. Here's a potential clue: nearby newcomer Yvonne's, a new Bostonian favorite, had catered the hotel launch party from within the secret space.

As for the hotel itself, it seems that a lot of thought was put into service. So it should live up to the meaning of its own name. According to Anselone, the name of the hotel — Godfrey — means "peace and welcome," and the interior decor is designed to convey calmness after the bustle of the city outside.

The periodic table is the recurring visual theme—seen on everything from the wall behind the desk to marketing materials and digital interfaces. It's meant to encourage you to explore every element of the hotel and city, as well as "find your element" to make your stay enjoyable and personalized. The element Zzz (sleep, of course) has an atomic weight of 8. Why? Because you should get this ideal number of hours of sleep at the Godfrey.

The conference room is sleek, and just one place where the InnSpire technology is infused into the hotel. To contrast with the elegant marble lobby with intricate carvings, there is a thin touchscreen that can tell you most anything you want to know about the hotel services and the city. Checking in can convert your phone to your room key, thanks to their app. The TVs in each room allow you to connect with your phone or laptop to order towels, get room service, get theater and shopping recommendations, or print your boarding pass at the front desk—all without making a phone call.

And for a retro low-tech touch, every room comes with a Rubik's cube for that extra special bedside challenge. All the beds look extra comfy, with Frette linens. And the bathrooms all echo the theme of serenity, with low-profile faucets and a neutral color palette.

Washington Street just got an energy boost by a young new hotel that's aging beautifully in place.
· Website: the Godfrey [Oxford Capital]
· Exclusive Tour of Downtown Crossing's New Godfrey Hotel [Curbed Boston]
· The Tower That Hopes to Remake Downtown Crossing [Curbed Boston]
· Godfrey Hotel Will Soon Join a Changing Downtown Crossing [Curbed Boston]
· Boston's Many New Hotels Will Find a Warm Reception [Curbed Boston]
Photos courtesy of The Godfrey Hotel and April Gardner.

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