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The Fairmont Copley Plaza: A Hotel Fit For A Dowager Countess
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Courtesy: Gretchen Kelly | News Source:

Downton Abbey fans rejoiced this year when the film, aptly named, Downton Abbey, opened to rave reviews. Fans of Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess were able to revel in bon mots, stinging retorts and withering looks and are eagerly awaiting the second film which was heavily hinted at when the rave reviews poured in.

Fans have that treat to anticipate. They also can start salivating about Julian Fellowes’ next saga of life amongst the 1 percent at the turn-of-the-century. The Gilded Age is a new HBO TV drama that focuses on the privileged few in New York and the East Coast at the same time Downton began (pre-Titanic sinking). The show will begin filming in and around New York and Newport, R.I. (the playground of America’s East Coast Gilded Age rich) in 2020.

Traveling fans, meantime, need look no further than Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza for a trip back in time to America’s Gilded Age.

If the Dowager Countess were to step aboard a luxury ocean liner and come across the pond to meet her family-in-law on the US side of the pond, she would doubtless be staying a the Fairmont Copley Plaza.

Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel Lobby

Main Lobby-Fairmont Copley Plaza Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

The Copley Plaza (named after Boston-based artist, John Singleton Copley) was built in 1912, the same year the Titanic sank. Its architect was Henry Laneway Hardenbergh, the same architect who built Fairmont’s Plaza Hotel in New York City.

The Gilded Agers who flocked to the hotel, made its famed Peacock Alley their catwalk: the long hallway was the place to see and be seen making an entrance at the Copley Plaza showpiece.

Fairmont Copley Plaza Grand Ballroom

Fairmont Copley Plaza's Grand Ballroom was recently the star of Greta Gerwig's new version of Little ... [+]

Fairmont Copley Plaza

This fall, Greta Gerwig’s new interpretation of Little Women shows off the Copley Plaza in all her glory when the Grand Ballroom gets a Civil War makeover and appears in a scene all of its own as the white-gloved ladies of the March family waltz, live and love in the New England of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.

For lovers of all things Downton (and those who can't wait for The Gilded Age to begin) a weekend at the Copley Plaza can include some turn-of-the-century delights bound to make anyone feel as imperious as her Ladyship.

First, a must-see are the John Singer Sergeant paintings at The Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The fifth largest museum in the United States, the MFA was originally at the site of the Copley Plaza from 1870 to 1907 when it moved to its current building in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood, across the street from its Dowager-like neighbor Isabella Stewart Gardner and her own house museum.

John Singer Sargent's image of Mrs. Fiske Warren

John Singer Sargent's Image of Mrs. Fiske Warren in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Boston Museum of Fine Arts

The MFA has a treasure of art from the ages but it has unique American masterpieces by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) who was the Annie Leibowitz of his day—painting all the “ladies of quality,” their children and spouses.

A particularly impressive example is his 1903 oil painting, Mrs. Fiske Warren and Her Daughter Rachel. Mrs. Fiske Warren (Gretchen Osgood Warren) was a poet, actress and singer. As demanding as the Dowager, she apparently did not love Sargent’s masterpiece, thinking herself too brightly painted and not serious enough for her artistic ambitions.

″Little Women″ - 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Maya Hawke and Heidi Thomas speak onstage at the screening of "Little ... [+]

Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Next stop on a Boston Gilded Age weekend has to be the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Founded in 1881, the BSO’s auditorium is a Gilded Age jewel box.
Handel And Haydn Society Welcomes Wow Child As Special Guest

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 3: Stephen Mattin and his grandson, Ronan, 9, walk up to the balcony during ... [+]

Boston Globe via Getty Images

Outside, in the lobby is a memorial to the musicians who kept playing when the Titanic was sinking (as Downton fans will remember, this was the plot point that started the entire series).

Back at the Copley Plaza, dive into cocktails at the very mens club-like Oak Long Bar and Kitchen.

Dive into the Bar’s Oak Old Fashioned, made with bourbon, bitters , and Mycoterra Farm shiitake mushrooms harvested from the Copley Square Farmers Market, right across the street.

Oak Long Bar + Kitchen

BOSTON - MARCH 23: Greg Bourbeau, left, of Boston, and Craig Halliwell, of Brookline, converse while ... [+]

Boston Globe via Getty Images

Sitting in the oak paneled room surrounded by Boston’s power hum of Millennial Masters of the Universe makes you feel as if you have one foot in the modern world and one squarely in the Gilded Age of Downton Abbey and its doyenne, the Dowager.

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