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Redesign by the River

Kimpton Marlowe Hotel in Cambridge, MA, has revealed that its extensive guestroom redesign, which takes inspiration from the academic and literary history of the neighborhood surrounding the hotel, along with the scenic Charles River, will be completed this month. The project features a complete renovation of all 237 guestrooms and suites, all with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Boston skyline, hotel courtyard and Charles River, which the hotel overlooks. The guestroom renovation completes Phase I of Marlowe’s redesign; Phase II, to include all common areas, the lobby and meeting and function spaces, is currently under review.

“The city of Cambridge is a place like no other, both for its academic pedigree and riverside location with Boston in the background, just over the river. We took inspiration from the history and the landscape that surround the hotel and wanted to create a tranquil and reflective space befitting the many legendary creators that have been a part of the city’s fabric for centuries,” said Kraig Kalashian, managing partner/founder of KKAD, the hospitality design and architecture studio in Newark, NJ that executed the redesign along with Kimpton’s own in-house design team.

“Design needs to respect limitations, so brand standards just provide the context for where we can go with our creativity,” Kalashian said. “We were lucky in that Kimpton has one of the best design teams of any hotel brand so they were really supportive of us exploring different ideas and trying new, creative things. Working in collaboration with their team actually makes the process more rewarding when you end up with something that everyone loves, not just our KKAD team.”

The guestrooms artfully blend Boston’s famed history and the city of Cambridge’s rich innovative spirit. The refreshed style brings in a mix of elements that are both contemporary and vintage, and create a sense of tradition without being traditional.

“The hotel resides on Edwin H. Land Blvd., named for the inventor of the Polaroid camera. The Polaroid was all about capturing a moment and encouraged people to be more creative with their photography since you could see the results more quickly. We wanted the design to encourage that same spirit of being present while at the same time surrounding the guest with vignettes from the city,” Kalashian said.

The guestrooms also feature custom blue carpeting inspired by the Charles River; a channel-stitched headboard in a cool tone of brownish gray; a velvet, blue green lounge chair; and an oval mirror above the credenza with both metal and leather accents. A side table next to the lounge chair has a marble top with dramatic veining detail in shades of white, brown and black.

“Probably our biggest challenge was re-defining the aesthetic of the hotel and not shocking the guests who had come to love the more ‘traditional’ aspects of the previous design,” Kalashian said. “The previous design had a more colonial feel but the hotel has a high rate of repeat guests who felt at home here. Our challenge was to try and keep some of the old elements (such as the crown moldings) while lightening up the décor with a fresher and more relevant palette.”

There are a few additional details throughout the room that provide depth in both color and texture. A bronze mesh material is used on the face of several case pieces including the hospitality unit as well as some armoires in the hotel’s specialty suites. Large benches in the guestrooms, which sit beneath flat-screen TVs, are upholstered in a sumptuous cognac leather to add a rich layer to the room while also providing ample space for guests to spread their belongings out on.

The artwork in the room is tied to architecture, monuments and movements, like rowing, that are synonymous with Cambridge and Boston, but in an artsy and altered manner. KKAD designed a custom ottoman to accompany the rooms’ lounge chair in which the fabric looks like pages and words from a cross-section of novels including literary masterpieces, poetry and even instructions from a cookbook. Guests will discover poems by EE Cummings and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and biographical details of Oliver Wendell Holmes, all of whom have strong historic connections to the Boston area.

“This custom piece is a surprise and delight moment for the Marlowe,” Kalashian said. “The hotel is all about unexpected moments of discovery and adventure, and every aspect of Marlowe’s new guestroom design encourages guests to embark on that journey.”