Rachel Moniz first set foot in the Liberty Hotel in early 2008 as a guest, soon after the Beacon Hill property had opened. Carpenter and Company, a Cambridge-based developer, had spent $150 million transforming the old Charles Street Jail, originally built in 1851, into a 298-room luxury property and the result was amazing. As Moniz rode the lobby escalator, she felt inspired by the building’s intricate Romanesque design details. Soaring nearly 100 feet, the preserved central atrium features three-story arched windows, wrought-iron work, and historic catwalks. She could immediately tell that this building had a story to tell.
“When I got the call to come manage and operate the hotel a few months later, I literally packed up my kids and went across country,” says Moniz, who at the time was managing the Ivy Hotel in San Diego. Soon after she arrived, Moniz noticed that people who lived, worked, or shopped in the Back Bay neighborhood didn’t cross over to Beacon Hill often, even though it’s only a 10-minute walk away. To bridge the gap between the two neighborhoods, Moniz partnered with a gallery owner on Newbury Street, a popular shopping district in the Back Bay, to create Gallery Night Tuesdays. Each week, a different artist showcases his or her work in the hotel’s lobby, which introduces new customers to the hotel. “I’ve met people at Gallery Night who say they want to look at the ballroom really quick and then all of a sudden they’re planning to book their wedding here,” Moniz says. “You just never know.”
To appeal to a variety of tastes and attract a mix of hotel guests and Bostonians, Moniz has steadily added other complimentary events to the weekly Liberty Affairs lineup. “I wanted people to come down from their rooms and stay on property, and I wanted the locals to come in and see the hotel too,” Moniz says. “The space is deserving of that. When I walk in here everyday it’s not lost on me that this is a beautiful historic landmark.”
On Wednesdays, about 50 to 60 dogs come to Yappier Hour to mingle in the Liberty’s private outdoor courtyard while their owners order cocktails and snacks from Clink, the hotel’s lobby-level restaurant. “There is a positive value proposition from the event itself,” Moniz says, adding that the Liberty donates a portion of the event’s proceeds to local pet rescue organizations.