Travel

Here’s a First Look Inside the Newly Renovated Mandarin Oriental, Boston

For when you’re finally ready to book that staycation.


mandarin oriental bedroom

The new Mandarin Oriental feels less like a pricy spot for business travelers, and more like a sophisticated Back Bay home. Photo by Todd Plummer

It’s been said that 2020 is an excellent year to get a little work done—with nobody around to see your downtime, you can emerge from a little cosmetic work and have none of your regular contacts be the wiser. And while hotel renovations are usually complex capital improvement projects many years in the making, it’s impressive to think that the Mandarin Oriental, Boston managed to sneak in a $15 million renovation while nobody was looking this year.

The project began in early January before the city’s construction moratorium ground all progress to a halt on March 26. Construction resumed over the summer, and the Mandarin re-opened its doors quietly on September 10. Fans of the property can rest assured that many aspects of the hotel remain the same: With the exception of two additional treatment rooms in the spa and the event spaces, the renovation did not include common areas (that soaring marble lobby that we know and love is still very much intact). What did change are the guest rooms, still the largest luxury accommodations in Boston but now with a fresh new look courtesy of the world-renowned interiors firm Champalimaud Design, which imbued the spaces with a design that feels less like a pricey retreat for expense accounters and more like your most fabulous friend’s Back Bay condo.

Lending the rooms a more residential feel was all part of a strategy to ensure that reopening a hotel during a pandemic would be not a cavalier act, but a considerate one. “The design intent was to make each room feel as welcoming and residential as possible,” says general manager Philipp Knuepfer. Each suite has been enhanced with a fully equipped kitchenette, a welcome addition for long-term-stay guests who wish to minimize contact with the outside world. And thanks to the hotel’s resident robot concierge MOBI, it’s possible to check-in—and be escorted—to your room and even receive amenities with absolutely zero human contact.

Once we warm up to the idea of having social gatherings again, though, the hotel’s newly renovated event spaces are sure to reclaim their place as some of the city’s most desirable spots to host weddings, charity luncheons, and business conferences. Designed as ornate jewel boxes, the updated spaces feel lighter and brighter. Decadent champagne-hued plissé upholstery covers the walls, and the carpets feature a design of floral blossoms curling around Chinese-inspired lattices. The residential theme carries over to the conference areas, too, with the same Champalimaud-curated wallpapers from the guest rooms lending an intimate feeling.

The hotel has already started to see numerous bookings, including a handful of longer-term stays. “People travel differently now, and we want all guests to feel as comfortable and secure as possible,” Knuepfer explains. He adds that extended visits have always been a part of the Mandarin Oriental’s ethos—they once had a guest check-in for a record two and a half years. But now, in the COVID era and with a renovation that puts hominess at the forefront, Knueper hopes that guests feel more secure than ever about sleeping in a bed that isn’t their own.

madarin oriental work area

To give a more inviting feel to its suites, MO replaced all of its desks with multifunctional round tables. Photo by Todd Plummer

Mandarin Oriental room kitchen

Foyer closets were turned into small yet tasteful kitchenettes. Photo by Todd Plummer

mandarin oriental bathrobes

Don’t worry, the MO’s signature plush bathrobes are there. Photo by Todd Plummer

mandarin oriental furniture

Champalimaud Design delivered a contemporary take on Chinoiserie, with a neutral color palette and sophisticated textures. Photo by Todd Plummer

mandarin oriental seating area

The renovation’s design mission was to create spaces that feel residential and inviting. Photo by Todd Plummer