Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Two blocks from the Boston Common
  • Huge, beautiful lobby
  • 24-hour fitness center complete with a yoga studio
  • 24-hour business center with five PC stations and a Xerox machine.
  • Airport shuttle stop right outside the hotel

Cons

  • Small rooms with super-small bathrooms
  • Fee for in-room Wi-Fi (but free in the lobby)
  • Valet parking is pricey, but typical for Boston
  • Room service not available 24 hours a day

Bottom Line

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.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

This big, historic, business hotel has a beautiful lobby, but it's downhill from there; shabby guest rooms and average features are a disappointment.

Don't let the grand chandelier fool you.
Don't let the grand chandelier fool you.

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 a mid-range hotel with small rooms and ample meeting space.

Roooms are dated and uncomfortable with tiny bathrooms 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.

 Location

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.

  • The nearest stop on the T (Boston's subway system) is Arlington Station on the Green Line, a block away; Back Bay commuter rail station, where Amtrak and regional trains stop, is just five blocks away.
  • Faneuil Hall, a historic tourist marketplace with more than 150 shops and cafes, is 15 minutes away via public transportation.
  • Two blocks away is the 52-acre Boston Common public park and the start of the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path that leads to 16 historic landmarks
  • Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, is 1.7 miles away, about a seven-minute drive.
  • Harvard Square is across the Charles River, about 25 to 30 minutes via public transportation.
  • Newbury Street, lined with lovely brownstones, great shopping, and dining, is just two blocks away.
  • Copley Square, the endpoint of the Boston marathon and a beautiful public square with an interesting mix of architecture, is two blocks away.
  • Logan International Airport is about 15 minutes by taxi

 Rooms

Tiny bathrooms, and dated technologies

Tiny L-shaped bahtrooms are a tight squeeze.
Tiny L-shaped bahtrooms are a tight squeeze.

With tiny bathrooms, cramped layouts, and worn furnishings, 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 Queen Room 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.

  • Standard rooms are an average 300 square feet; there's room for just one queen bed, a desk and desk chair, a small side chair (no table), and a tiny bathroom.
  • Standard rooms come with either one queen bed, two doubles, or one king, priced differently (rooms with one queen are the cheapest, two doubles or one king typically are a bit more). A few small (275 square feet) "economy" rooms with just one double bed are also available.
  • Beds have Simmons Beautyrest pillowtop mattresses
  • Dated electronics: small tube TV (flat screens in the suites) and a Sony AM/FM alarm clock
  • Tiny bathrooms: bathtub with curtains on two sides, no counter space, cheap plastic toilet seat, Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, disposable plastic cups
  • Fee for Wi-Fi (free in the lobby)
  • Though guest rooms were upgraded with new carpets and beds in early 2009, other aspects, like the heavily scratched furnishings and cracked bathroom tiles, feel far from new.

 Features

Dated and unimpressive

The fitness center is large, but a bit dated.
The fitness center is large, but a bit dated.

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.

  • The lower-level, 24-hour fitness center is fairly large, but the equipment -- five treadmills, three ellipticals, four bikes, and a few weight machines -- is pretty worn. Cardio machines don't have individual TVs, but there are a couple of flat-screen TVs throughout.
  • The fitness center's bright spot is a new-looking yoga and meditation room with thoughtful lighting, flowering plants, and yoga mats and fitness balls in good condition.
  • 24-hour business center features five PC stations and a Xerox machine; computers are pricey, but there's a function for printing boarding passes for free.
  • An outside company runs an airport shuttle that stops at the hotel every half hour during business hours.; it is slightly cheaper than a cab, and reservations don't typically need to be made in advance.

 Pet Friendly

Pets up to 50 pounds allowed

The Boston Park Plaza is pet-friendly for smaller animals.

  • Pets up to 50 pounds allowed with a nonrefundable cleaning charge per stay
  • In addition to dogs and cats, the hotel has also welcomed birds and rabbits, though those bringing exotics should get approval before arrival.
  • No regular pet amenities provided
  • Concierge can arrange dog walking; the Public Garden park is just one block away.

 Family

With cramped rooms, the hotel is not a great pick for families

The Melting Pot offers a kids' menu.
The Melting Pot offers a kids' menu.

Though the hotel is affordable and centrally located, its cramped rooms and tiny bathrooms 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.

  • Adjoining rooms available, but most are between suites and standard rooms, not two standard rooms
  • Free cribs and rollaway beds; rollaways can fit in standard rooms with one bed (though it would be cramped), but won't fit in rooms with two beds
  • The Melting Pot and McCormick & Schmick's, two independent restaurants located within the hotel, have kids' menus.

 Food

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.

  • Restaurants on-site include: McCormick and Schmick's, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Smith & Wollensky, Au Bon Pain, The Melting Pot, MJ O'Connor's Irish pub, and dessert locale Finale.
  • Room service is not available 24/7

 Bottom Line

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.

Things You Should Know About Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers

Address

  • 50 Park Plaza At Arlington Street, Boston, MA, 02116

Hotel is Also (or Was Formerly) Known As

  • Boston Park Plaza
  • Boston Park Plaza Hotel
  • Park Plaza Boston
  • Park Plaza Boston Hotel and Towers

Room Types

  • Deluxe Room
  • Economy Room
  • Garden Suite
  • Junior Suite
  • One Bedroom Suite
  • Presidential Suite
  • Standard Room
  • Tower Level Deluxe Room
  • Tower Level Room
  • Two Bedroom Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 941
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Back Bay, Boston
Address: 50 Park Plaza At Arlington Street, Boston, MA, 02116
(See Map)
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