by Carol Duhart
In 2019, The Row Hotel at Assembly Row in Somerville, Mass. was ranked the third best hotel in the U.S. and 44th best hotel in the world by Travel and Leisure Magazine. It’s not every day that a hotel can claim a global ranking among the best, much less as a result of four New Hampshire-based companies. Yet, the five-star The Row Hotel, located at 360 Foley Street, which opened in mid-2018, has remained sold-out, and garnered recognition and acclaim from numerous travel and hospitality sources.
Behind the newcomer’s place on the international hospitality scene is a unique collaborative known as XSS Hotels, PROCON, Colwen Hotels, and Colwen Design & Purchasing. The four N.H. companies are responsible for the design, construction, interior design and management services for the insta-worthy hotel. The Row is part of the sprawling Assembly Row neighborhood located three miles from Boston, and considered one of the fastest-growing developments in the Greater Boston area. It was named after the Ford Motor Company’s assembly plant that churned out Edsels between 1926 and 1958.
The Row occupies floors 1-5 of a 13-story, 315,000sf building with luxury residences above, and retail space at ground level. At 158 rooms, it is part of Marriott Hotels International premier Autograph Collection. This boutique hotel stands out because of its artistically inspired interiors that blend luxury, comfort, and function with thoughtful guest-centric touches.
The interior design was the brainchild of Colwen Design & Purchasing, which picked up the 2019 IIDA Interior Design Award for its decor.
Meaghan O’Neill, the company’s director of design, said, “Our goal was to give hotel guests a nostalgic understanding of the industrial past, mixed with today’s modern sophistication.” Adventurous interiors combine bold industrial elements with an imaginative use of reclaimed auto parts scattered throughout, echoing the site’s assembly plant history.
A magnificent grand stairway commands the main lobby, which flows into the Reflections Restaurant. The second floor features a stylish pre-function area that segues into the Ford and Assembly meeting rooms. Each space is customizable for business meetings or seminars, weddings, and other special events.
Lastly, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a saltwater pool with cabanas, and attractive outdoor terraces round out the second floor amenities.
In the overall building design, PROCON’s architects created a distinction between the hotel, retail spaces, and the condominiums above. This was achieved with a layering technique by breaking down the mass and presenting it as smaller separate buildings that appear to have pre-existed. The results are a modern building with crisp lines in varying heights and finishes that reminisces a bygone era.
Leo Xarras and Mark Stebbins are the two principals behind the four N.H. firms.
Since teaming up in 1997, Stebbins Xarras have produced nearly 50 hotels representing over 4,000 beds in the Northeast region, with more in the pipeline. The partnership works because of their collective expertise. “Our combined resources make us one-of-a-kind. Leo and I own the hotels, meaning we do it all: land acquisition, architectural design, interior design, and management, then we also run it after it opens,” said Stebbins. In fact, before each location welcomes its first guests, Colwen Hotels is working hard behind-the-scenes to provide premium management services for a tailored guest experience.
Just across the Mystic River sits the AC Hotel Boston North, a European-inspired brand that opened in 2016. It was the first AC Hotel newly built in the U.S.A., and was followed by openings in Cambridge, Brookline, Worcester, and Boston South End. And, in a few weeks, the first AC will open in New Hampshire at 299 Vaughan Street in Portsmouth. Simultaneously, the team is also rolling out dual-branded hotels in multiple Greater Boston cities, combining two signature brands under one roof.
All said, even with a long history of successful hotels, The Row has been something of a capstone for the four New Hampshire Companies. In the final analysis, it has not only played a part in the transformative Assembly Row complex, but it has also earned a place among the world’s best.
Carol Duhart is the creative writer at PROCON, Inc.