The Verve, Crowne Plaza Natick
1360 Worcester Street
Natick, MA 01760
Tel 877 384 0706
By Ron Bernthal
Located off busy Route 9, a commercial highway that runs through the Boston suburb of Natick, this unassuming-looking, 251-room property called The Verve, Crowne Plaza is adjacent to an upscale shopping mall, across the street from an office park, and within walking distance of several chain restaurants (Olive Garden, Legal Seafoods, etc.). How many thousands of suburban business-style hotels fit this description? Yet, once you step through the red, sliding glass doors of the entrance, you enter a whimsical and colorful lobby whose eclectic interior design makes for quite a pleasant surprise.
If I had known that the hotel’s corporate parent, Distinctive Hospitality Group, wanted The Verve’s interior to reflect their marketing slogan, “hospitality with attitude,” I would have been more prepared when faced with a spacious lobby that seemed to be a combination of W Hotel and Hard Rock Café. Pop art decorated the walls, ever-changing mood lighting framed the front desk (as well as the guest hallways), nostalgic 1960’s and 70’s collectibles were juxtaposed with contemporary sculpture, modern lighting fixtures, stylish furnishings, and a very happening and sophisticated cocktail lounge.
Although the building has been a corporate-style hotel for 25 years, the renovated and newly designed interior debuted in January, 2012, and has been a huge hit among guests and local residents ever since. The Violet Thorn lounge is decorated in various purple hued lighting, with a water wall, fireplace and several large TV screens that show both old movies and live sports, thankfully without sound. The bar serves amazinglygood hand-crafted cocktails, with names like Cooled Cuke, Samurai Courage, and West of Bangkok, as well as a collection of wonderful, small appetizer plates like octopus carpaccio and baked oysters. Once a month the lounge sponsors “Violet Jam” rock and roll cocktail parties, where half the lobby is converted into a stage and dancing area, with a sound system arranged by BOSE, a well known, Framingham-based audio technology company that uses the venue to test and display new equipment. During a spring, 2012, show the band Starship performed in front of a 700-person lobby audience. Who says you need to be in Las Vegas for that kind of hotel check-in experience?
The Verve’s signature restaurant, the Pantry, serves American comfort food from breakfast through dinner and is artfully designed with creative lighting fixtures made of silverware, walls constructed of real rolling pins and muffin tins, and video monitors showing episodes of older cooking shows, including Julia Child’s “The French Chef” and Graham Kerr’s “The Galloping Gourmet.”
My King bedroom was large, with a SONY HD flat screen, free Wi-Fi, iPod docking station, and framed prints and artwork on the walls. The bathroom had incredibly good water pressure, and the end of the toilet paper roll was shaped into a little rose, an extra housekeeping touch that I had never seen before in any hotel.
Although the view from my window was of the mall parking lot on Route 9, I kept telling myself that this property is not about the scenery outside, but about the amenities and “attitude” inside. With its convenient close-to-Boston location, its comfortable and high-tech meeting rooms, Apple computer-serviced Business Center, and on-site dining options The Verve is perfect for business travelers. The hotel also appeals to local couples of any age who want an affordable, romantic weekend in a 60’s-70’s music-themed environment, with large and comfortable guest rooms, a unique cocktail lounge, and situated across the street from an upscale shopping mall and lots of restaurant choices.