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Above: The Fifteen Beacon from the outside on Beacon Street, shot from the west. Top right: Astounding and tasteful décor in the suite. Centre right: The author settles in: the hotel provides a fax–printer and internet network line. Right: The smallest touches are the most pleasant: Hildon water and personalized business cards for the guest in residence at the Fifteen Beacon. Below: The suite bookshelf with American novels. Below right: The lobby has a similar visual theme but a very different feel, meant for more temporary visits to greet guests.

HEN you’ve lived in Seoul—and by that I mean someone who uses its vast metropolitan public transport services, carting suitcases from the northeast residential areas to the centre of town—and then worn the same clothes for close to 15 hours flying across to the US east coast, the arrival at the Fifteen Beacon is more rewarding than would normally be expected.
   Boston is not as navigable as, say, San Francisco, and the driver needs to be particularly wary of the exit numbers from Logan Airport. I would call it labyrinthine—even in a few days when I exited, and equipped with directions—it’s still hard to get lost once you leave Newbury Street.
   Within the city, and at night, the darkness of the metropolitan area compared to Seoul or the more familiar (to me) surroundings of New Zealand, can take some adjusting to for a non-American. It took me longer than I expected to arrive at the Fifteen Beacon, but was blessed with an attending concierge and excellent bell service. If it weren’t for the familiar XV logotype—thank God for consistent branding in the modern commercial world—I might have missed it: Boston is not as well lit as some Asian and Australasian cities and Beacon Hill is quiet, though safe, at night. Valet parking was efficient and the staff friendly—with the added cachet of a New England accent which reminded one that this is the state where Harvard University and The Atlantic Monthly are based.
   The room is immaculate, as expected from a hotel that has an aim to bridge the needs of the dot com generation with high-speed fax and modem lines while providing the refinement of traditional décor. Computer-wise, there is a technician to help the business traveller available around the clock, such is the vision of Fifteen Beacon developer Paul Roiff. The room is properly appointed, down to the smallest detail, satisfying not only the visitor accustomed to being properly treated but the pedant who has become used to the standards of global travel.
   The international visitor, particularly from the old world, need not fear an American parody of European tastes. It would be fair to call the Fifteen Beacon room a pinnacle of American interior design where good taste triumphs tremendously, done so through a sense of balance rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic. There is a restraint to every furnishing; the most ornate is a mirror that seems to worship Apollo—but that is at a size that contributes to an overwhelming feeling of style rather than an eyesore that has the international traveller worried about visual imbalance.
   Cased books on the shelf are wrapped in white, complementing the pottery: those who are not jetlagged can sample a variety of literature. The Fifteen Beacon’s own colour publication introducing the area details shopping and sights for the tourist perhaps more ably than any travel magazine or travel section, including our own. However, I did what I would normally do: explore the immediate area on foot. Magazine publishers, as executives who are here for a short stay, do not have time to take in day trips to historical sites (there are many). Beacon Hill itself is home to enough to satisfy those who wish to have a break between sessions on the laptop and dining at the Federalist, the Fifteen Beacon’s renowned restaurant.
   The Fifteen Beacon prides itself on its art collection, including Gilbert Stuarts and other American artists represented here. There is a similar pride in its multi-million-dollar wine selection, which includes, according to the Boston Sunday Globe, two bottles of Heidsieck Monopole champagne that survived a German U-boat attack in 1916.
   The general manager, William Sander III, is a connoisseur, and was kind enough to leave me a beautifully handwritten note for my midnight arrival.
   What has impressed this visitor to Boston’s finest is not the leather menu covers or 330-thread-count Italian linen; not the provision of high-speed internet access or the most comfortable gown I have ever tried on at any hotel (a godsend after the flights), but a small envelope containing 50 by 90 mm business cards imprinted with my name and a direct fax and a direct phone number for this room.
I could forgive the item being typeset in Arial, that too-common font, but at least the compositor had the good sense to use a sans serif typeface of comparable weight and height to match the hotel’s corporate Vectora style printed in offset.
   It was almost a shame for me to ruin the balance of the desk with my laptop, diaries and paperwork in order to be set up for the day ahead. Those more interested in keeping up with the Dow Joneses can have a television set inform them if they wish, equipped with a proper selection of channels. However, it was more fitting with the environment of the room and the artwork that hung within that the radio had been tuned to a classical FM station broadcast through appropriately sharp, stereo speakers. Other indulgences include an LCD television in the bathroom. In line with a top-line hotel in this market-place is a master panel controlling fireplace and the CD-player and radio selections.

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Acknowledgements to Nicky Casey of Budget Travel Kilbirnie, and Jessica Belmont and Amy Newcomb of Hawkins & Widness.
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