Bravo for the Encore, a new B&B in Boston's vibrant South End. This impeccably clean establishment combines a fine location with three spacious rooms furnished in a distinctive contemporary style.
Encore occupies the top floors of an 1860 Victorian brick bowfront townhouse on a leafy side street, around the corner from busier Tremont Street. The B&B underwent extensive renovation and redesign earlier this year under the masterful touch of the owners: Reinhold Mahler, an award-winning architect, and David Miller, an award-winning set designer.
A theatre motif starts at the front door. Above, where a fanlight usually sits, is a stained glass inset featuring the masks of comedy and tragedy. The three guest rooms are decorated with posters and materials from each author's work. David's collection of masks from around the world - Korea, Greece, Italy and elsewhere - hang in the breakfast nook.
Each room is decorated differently in contemporary style - no off-whites or beiges here. Exposed red brick plays against unusual, yet tasteful color combinations: lilac and purple in the Albee, darkish gray with bold color splashes in the Sondheim, and dark green and soft yellow in the Bernstein. Descriptions can't adequately capture the way walls and furnishings work together. See pictures on Encore's web site
The Albee Room gets morning sun, while Sondheim and Bernstein have windows that fill them with afternoon light. Early risers will like the Albee, while guests who sleep-in might appreciate one of the others. Each room has its own bathroom with shower.
The Albee Room is special. Sliders open onto a vest pocket balcony atop the curved bow front. There's only room for a pair of chairs and a few plants, but it's a wonderful spot to relax and look through the trees at the townhouses across the street. In the distance is the mirrored glass Hancock Tower. There's a feeling of being atop a protected castle turret while the world goes about its business below that becomes even more special after dark.
Continental breakfast featuring "strong European coffee" is served buffet style in the breakfast nook each morning. Weak Americans should request a less potent drink in advance. Guests select the night before from a menu listing possibilities - hot drinks, juices, muffins, croissants, yogurt, fruit, granola among others.
Shops on Newbury Street, Copley Place and the South End are within walking distance. Nearby theatres including the Lyric Stage, the Huntington Theatre and the three BCA stages are easy walks as well. Iconic Boston attractions like the John Hancock Tower, Copley Square and Back Bay are convenient, as are the South End's many restaurants and galleries. For further excursions, a subway stop is three blocks away.
Be sure to ask your hosts about theatre. They know what's going on and will gladly guide you to some of Boston''s smaller, more intimate venues.
Visitors looking for a colonial, early American or antique-filled B&B will probably be happier elsewhere.