Hotel Marlowe, Cambridge, MA

MarloweBed.jpgWhile I was in Boston (Cambridge), I stayed at the Hotel Marlowe; first time. The Marlowe is part of the Kimpton Group boutique chain – “Every hotel tells a story” – found in all the upscale cities you’d expect. It is very close to the SoL offices, and attached to the Cambridgeside Galleria mall. I had heard from SoL staff that people either love it or hate it, and I can see why, and I love it. The reason I love it is that they are going after an aesthetic. Success or failure, you judge, but they have attempted Hotel As Art.
Things to like:
Leopard-style carpet. How cool is that? Probably done to cope with their pet-friendly policy, but it’s a lively change from boring brown.
Cool Leopard-style robes. Use in the room, and optionally purchase upon departure for $120. Wore mine every night and morning. Warm, weird, different.
Free wi-fi throughout the entire building, plus Ethernet in the rooms. This was great, and easy to set up. My only criticism here is that throughput was a paltry 20-30K/sec. Things were kinda pokey; they need a speed upgrade.
Four sampler CDs on the in-room stereo. The labels said, Please enjoy during your stay and leave in the room for the next guest. Hey, no problem, I got iTunes right here. 20 minutes later I have four promotional samplers of music including “Frequent Flyer: Buenos Aires,” (2 discs), “Suite Life volume 1,” and “Rosa (zipper).” All have multiple bands, and they were all found at Gracenote, so I know that the songs are!
“Om Away From Home” – an 8-panel 4″x4″ full-color guide to hotel yoga, produced with Yoga Journal. There’s an in-room tee-vee channel with all-day Yoga instruction. They provide a free Yoga Basket for in-room use that includes a mat, strap, block, and free issue of Yoga Journal. You can buy the basket, or have it shipped to your next destination. The guide shows five simple postures that can be done with typical hotel props like a blanket, a side chair, an empty wall, and a carpeted floor. They encourage you to take this with you, so I dropped it in my suitcase and will find it the next time I’m away. Sometimes all you need to get started is a starting point. I found this and the CDs a brilliant way to provide me some real value and remember this chain in the future.
Free wine bar in the lobby from 5-6 PM every day. A red and a white featured wine. Gathering spot, learning moment, socialization opportunity.
Wines of the World” – a 16-page 3″x6″ guide to wines presented by the Kimpton Wine Club. Wine expert Leslie Sbrocco provides comments on two wines per month, which are featured at the free evening wine bar. So now I have this kicking around on the kitchen table, and if any of them catch my interest I can try to track them down. The guide provides URLs for each vinyard, and Kimpton has their own monthly by-mail wine club with three price levels ($29/month to $125/month for two bottles.)
Kimpton Style” – a style guide cum catalog, where you can buy accessories that style each of their hotels. The catalog is organized by hotel, showing a room and then keying the products to what’s in the room. Candles, robes, linens, lamps, pillows, beds(!), plates, glassware, etc. 24 pages, full color.
So I’m walking out of there with four new mix CDs, a hotel yoga guide, wine notes on 24 interesting wines, and a catalog of stuff to buy to reinforce the lifestyle. That is some modern marketing think applied to business-class hotels. These guys have done their homework, and are thinking about the experience beyond the basics.
Anything I didn’t like? Well, paying $22.80 for a bowl of oatmeal, three bacon slices, a glass of orange juice, and a cup of green tea is a bit much, don’t you think? The $18 hamburger and coke was a stretch too. Their ‘net connection was too slow, as noted above. $20 a day for parking is the going rate, but it’s annoying.
I was there three nights. Two of those were paid by my hosts. My one night expense, with incidentals for three nights – parking, two meals, taxes – came to $291.07, which can take your breath away. Maybe I’ll feel better about the price if I buy some stuff out of their catalog. I’m certainly digging the new music.