At TravelSkills, we love new hotels. They smell better, work better, feel better, and are usually bigger, brighter and hipper than others. But new can also have its downside: Construction noise, service issues, and/or locations in sketchy or “upcoming” neighborhoods. Some are so new that TripAdvisor reviews are scant compared to more established hotels. In an ongoing feature, TravelSkills reports on the newest hotels in the world’s most important cities.
On a recent quick spin through Boston on business, I was able to stay overnight at one brand new hotel, have a business breakfast at another, and walk through several others. Here’s my report:
The 120-room Residence Inn Boston Downtown/Seaport (pictured above) opened in June 2013 in the gentrifying Fort Point or Seaport neighborhood across a small channel from the downtown core and just north of the sprawling convention center. What’s most unique about this six-story, red brick hotel is that it’s housed in what was once a New England Confectionary Company factory—the place where they made NECCO wafers. I have to say that it’s unlike any other Residence Inn I’ve ever seen: all rooms have 12-foot ceilings of exposed timber and utilities and are spacious by Boston standards at around 450-500 square feet. As is the case at all Residence Inns, there’s a small kitchen in each suite for those on long term stays. But if you are just there overnight, don’t miss the generous hot breakfast served in the lobby each morning. Since the hotel is so new, the free wi-fi is blisteringly fast and simple to log on. The Fort Point neighborhood is great for evening walks, and there are plenty of popular restaurants and bars within a few blocks. My favorite: Sam’s at Louis with an outstanding view across the harbor where you can watch planes landing at Logan Airport. There’s also the chic, upscale Italian Sportello next door. Rates run from $299-$699 depending on demand.
The 225-room Loews Boston Hotel used to be the Back Bay Hotel, located near the city’s South End and Theatre District. Boston Common is just a few blocks away. Interestingly, before it was the Back Bay Hotel, it was the Boston Police Precinct Headquarters, a designation that is carved into the building’s freshly scrubbed limestone façade. Once Loews got its hands on the hotel, it meticulously (and deeply) renovated the entire building, floor by floor—the big job just completed in March 2014. Unusual: In the hotel’s cozy lounge area off the main lobby, there’s an enormous nine-panel video wall tuned to news stations all day. Even if you don’t stay at the Loews, slip into the excellent Precinct Kitchen + Bar on the lower level for a power breakfast with colleagues like I did. Impressed! As in all Loews hotels these days, wifi is free throughout the hotel.
The 370-room Revere Hotel Boston Common hotel in the Theatre District used to be a giant, imposing concrete Radisson hotel. While the hulking concrete shell remains, the interior is hip, modern and well-done. Most rooms sport big, oval white enamel desks and stark white bathrooms. One of the best features left over from the hotel’s former life are the balconies accessed through sliding glass doors in every room. One of my hotel pet peeves are rooms without access to fresh air from windows that open. At the Revere, that’s not a problem! The hotel renovation was completed in April 2012 and rooms run in the $300-$500 range, depending on demand. Fortune magazine recently named The Revere as one of the Best New Business Hotels in the US for 2013.
The recently revamped, Flatiron-shaped, 80-room Boxer hotel (formerly the Bullfinch) is located in the North End near Beacon Hill. Rooms are on the small side, but offer free wi-fi, in-room Keurig coffee makers and cool, gray interiors with soft touches like tufted headboards and plaid blankets paired with more industrial and steel, wood and stone desks. A full renovation of all rooms and the restaurant (Finch) was completed in May 2013. Room rates run in the $200-$300 range.
A stay at the tiny 12-room Chandler Studios Boston probably feels more like Airbnb than a regular hotel. Guests check in at the nearby Chandler Inn and then get an escort to the new building (completed in October 2012) where they enter via a keyless entry system (no front desk or lobby). Each studio has a fully equipped kitchenette, free wi-fi and phone service. Interiors are clean and modern with oversized black and white vintage photos on the walls. Rates: $300-$400 per night.
What’s your favorite hotel in Boston… and why? Please leave your comments below!
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