New owners of The Kendall Hotel managed to keep its firehouse charm.
The Kendall Hotel at The Engine 7 Firehouse
350 Main St, Cambridge, MA
kendallhotel.com; (617) 577-1300
Distance by car: 3½ hours
Exceptionally friendly and cool-under-pressure staff at this fun boutique are adept at “putting out fires”—of the hotel-guest kind, which is not surprising, considering that this 77-room hotel was once a local firehouse. Built in 1895, the firehouse had fallen into neglect, closed in 1993, and been slated for demolition. Enter Americana antique collectors Gerald Fandetti and Charlotte Forsythe, who, like many “adaptive reuse” visionaries, saw promise in this brick structure adjacent to the MIT campus and sought to bring it back to life. It’s now part of the Historic Hotels of America, and the Kendall’s lobby celebrates its roots. A fire-engine door serves as a cocktail table, fire-brigade buckets hang behind the small reception desk, and framed collections of embroidered firehouse patches from all over the country adorn hallway walls. Old trunks, American crafts, Oriental rugs, broken-in wingback chairs, and lots of knickknacks coalesce into a comfortable, laid-back, offbeat tableau, where MIT parents and professors, Google employees (an office is right across the street), and other high-tech industry workers, firemen, and families congregate.
ROOM: Each of the 77 rooms is unique—though, for the most authentic stay, ask for a room in the original firehouse dorm, where brave firefighters
BOARD: A hot buffet breakfast is included with the room, and you can take your tray to the open-to-lobby Black Sheep Restaurant. In the evening, order the signature chili there (a nice nod to firehouse cuisine), or walk out the door to a blooming restaurant scene.
ONLY HERE: Fandetti and Forsythe use corridors on each floor as gallery space for their growing number of Victorian antiques. Expect to find painted chests of drawers and toy pedal fire trucks—a hit with tots who ride them up and down the halls. If you happen to be here on Monday through Thursday night, head up to the enclosed rooftop for a complimentary hosted wine hour. City sunset views are superb.
WHILE HERE: Kendall Square is “where Cambridge meets Boston.” Walk 20 minutes to the Longfellow Bridge, cross it, and you’re in Beacon Hill. Or just stay on the Cambridge side of the bridge to revel in the buildings and brainiacs at the heart of the fastest growing biotech region in the country.
JUST THE FACTS: Room rates range from $129 to $459 a night. Extended-stay suites with full kitchen are $599 to $1,200 a night.