Liberty Hotel guests no longer get a bubbly welcome when they check in

Used to be, guests checking into the West End hotel would be offered a complimentary flute of sparkling Spanish wine with their room keys.

The practice ended Aug. 13, when Boston Police detectives issued the hotel a citation for violating a state law banning free booze.

The Boston Licensing Board decides Thursday whether to punish the hotel - or whether to accept the hotel's argument that that free-alcohol thing prohibition only applies to restaurant and bar happy hours, which have been banned since the Dukakis era.

Attorney William F. Coyne, Jr., who represents both the hotel and the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, told a skeptical board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer that the drinks were not, technically, free, even though guests did not pay for them, because the hotel kept accounts of the drinks and paid state liquor-sales taxes on every one of them.

He said this contrasted to happy hours in which bars and restaurants competed to see how many free drinks they could load patrons up with. And he said that his review of decisions by the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission showed not a single one involving a situation in which a hotel dole out a single drink to a guest on check in, and that decisions involving free drinks all involved happy hours."

Ferrer didn't buy his argument for a second. Although the ABCC regulations are titled as pertaining to "happy hours," she said no free drinks means no free drinks, period. She noted that the ABCC's own Web site specifically states:

Can a bar, restaurant, or hotel offer a free drink?

No. A bar, restaurant or hotel cannot offer any free drinks. However, a bar, restaurant, or hotel can include a drink as part of a meal package under certain circumstances.

A hotel official said that until the board or the ABCC says otherwise, guests are now offered a free, non-alcoholic drink when they register.

The board makes its decision Thursday.



    Free tagging: 


    Thank heavens!

    By on

    Glad to see these brazen scofflaws brought to justice. Order and peace is restored to the streets of Olde Boston Towne, thanks to the tireless investigation of the BPD and the fearless bureaucratizing of the ABCC.

    Well, Thank God!

    By on

    Can't have free booze handed out to people checking into a hotel. Who knows what would happen next? Why, it might lead to... uh... I had a vague notion... hold on... I...

    Nope. I got nothing.


    re: 'world class city'

    By on

    Seriously, let it go. That one's about as tired as special snowflake around here.

    its not free, its

    By on

    its not free, its "complimentary"

    Charles St.

    By on

    The guests are spending the night in jail anyway. What's the big deal?

    At the hotel where the rooms

    By on

    At the hotel where the rooms are probably $300-400 a night, how can a drink as part of the room deal possibly be construed as "free"? Can't they just say it is "included in the welcome package"? You are definitely paying for it!

    You underestimate...

    By on

    Charlotte, you seriously underestimate the cost of a room at the Liberty Hotel.

    But that doesn't take anything away from your post; it now makes even more sense.

    Agreed completely -- nothing

    By on

    Agreed completely -- nothing is free; they clearly and absolutely charge for it... Besides, wtf!!

    3rd highest tourist taxes eased with drink!

    A recent news item claimed Boston hotel and meal taxes made us the third most taxed place to be a tourist in the country after NYC and Chicago, over $30/day. Too bad Kitty Dukakis's alcoholism prevents hotels from welcoming visitors to Boston. After checking out and seeing the bill, they may not come again, but at least might get a better first impression. World class only in visitor taxes.