Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
Don't let the park proximity, the huge lobby with a grand chandelier, or the history of this hotel fool you. The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers isn't fancy. Yes, it's just two blocks from the Boston Common and a block from the Public Garden. Yes, the lobby's candelabra chandelier is striking. And yes, the hotel was first opened in 1927 by noted hotelier E.M. Statler, and later named a "Historic Hotel of America." Despite such attributes and history, today the Park Plaza is little more than a block of convention crash pads atop a beautiful lobby and ample meeting space.
Service is minimal and often indifferent. Guest rooms are dated and uncomfortable with tiny bathrooms, stiff pillows, and well-worn furnishings. Features, like the ubiquitous 24-hour business center and gym, are fine, but average. Dining options, mostly chain restaurants, abound, but they're fairly unremarkable.
Guests we chatted with, a mix of conventioneers and flight crew members, all had kind words for the lobby and location, but not the rooms. These accommodations are some of the least expensive in Back Bay -- an upscale business, commercial, and residential area that's home to the city's Hynes Convention Center -- and they feel it. They're far less luxe and less well maintained than those at the Westin. But even the similarly priced Colonnade Hotel, also in the area, has far more to offer, including a notable restaurant, more modern guest rooms, and a rooftop pool. Come and have a quick peak at the Park Plaza's beautiful lobby if you must, but stay elsewhere.
Corporate and generally careless
The mediocre service at the Park Plaza leaves a lot to be desired. Early one morning, I asked the front desk what time the Au Bon Pain next door opened. He told me he thought it was already open, but wasn't sure and suggested I just walk outside two doors down to check. Given that it was quite cold out it would have been nice had he offered to double-check himself, online or via phone, especially since the cafe is on the property. I witnessed that same front desk clerk just shrug his shoulders when a customer came to check out and said his TV reception had been extremely fuzzy and the Internet hadn't worked. The Park Plaza isn't the sort of place for apologies or service that goes above and beyond. When I asked for a late checkout, I was immediately told I could have until 1 p.m., but anything after would be a $75 charge. That's the sort of thing you expect to hear at a hotel in Las Vegas, but it's an anomaly in Boston.
Getting help from the guest room proves no easier. Room phones have buttons for "housekeeping" "concierge," "guest services," etc., but some aren't labeled properly. "Guest services" just went through to a voicemail system, not to an actual person, whenever I tried it. When I called down to the concierge, I was put on hold for several minutes and eventually hung up.
On the edge of the tony Back Bay area and downtown
The hotel is centrally located on the edge of the Theater District, an up-and-coming area, and the Back Bay, an upscale commercial and residential area where skyscrapers tower above centuries-old churches and expensive brownstone homes. The Back Bay is a popular area for business travelers -- the Hynes Convention Center is here -- but it also has some of the city's best shopping, from quaint Newbury Street boutiques to the massive Prudential Center mall. Major attractions, like the Public Garden, the Boston Common, and the start of the Freedom Trail, are within a few blocks; other tourist hot spots, like the North End and Faneuil Hall, are 15 to 20 minutes away via public transportation. The area is filled with midrange and upscale restaurants, many of them chains; the ground floor of the hotel's building is occupied by tenants like Au Bon Pain and Ben & Jerry's. The Stuart Street Playhouse, an art house movie theater, is a short walk from the hotel, while the nearby Theater District, just a block away, has a number of old, restored theaters that host acts ranging from comics to indie rockers. The South End, a more lively bohemian area with trendy bars and eateries, is a quick 10-minute walk away.
With tiny bathrooms, cramped layouts, worn furnishings, and uncomfortable beds, rooms are little more than convention crash pads. Guests seemed happy with the hotel's meeting space and beautiful lobby, but not with rooms. The minuscule, L-shaped bathroom in the standard was especially disappointing. The shower/tub combo was open on two sides with a shower rod that curved halfway around the tub; counter space was nonexistent. It felt more like it was in a teeny New York apartment than in a decent hotel. For bigger, more modern rooms in the same area and price range, try the Colonnade Hotel.
Dated and unimpressive
With a dated fitness center and expensive business center, the hotel's features further disappoint. For better amenities, again, head to the Colonnade Hotel, which has a newer fitness center and a rooftop pool.
Pets up to 50 pounds allowed
The Boston Park Plaza is pet-friendly for smaller animals.
With cramped rooms and mediocre service, not a great pick for families
Though the hotel is affordable and centrally located, its cramped rooms, tiny bathrooms, and inconsistent service make it a less than ideal pick for families. With bigger rooms and a rooftop pool in the summer, the similarly priced Colonnade Hotel is a far better option for families in the area.
Eight restaurants on the property, though not all allow charges to the room
The hotel website lists a whopping eight restaurants as being part of the property, but the majority of them aren't physically connected to the hotel nor do they allow guests to charge meals to their rooms. They're simply outside tenants on the ground floor of the hotel.
Clean enough, but dated and worn
While guest rooms underwent a partial renovation in early 2009, that's hardly apparent. are cracked and furnishings are badly scratched. Nothing is downright dirty, but it all feels pretty tired. I also found a mouse trap under my bed. Thankfully, it was empty.
Built in 1927, this huge, historic hotel has a grand lobby and a central location near the Boston Common, but its rooms are a bit older and cramped, and its restaurants and amenities are unremarkable. Though it's a fair price for the location, you can get more for your money elsewhere.