Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
A boutique hotel with few extra amenities in a somewhat(but walkable to tourist attractions)
The tiny 79-room Bulfinch Hotel gets its name not from Charles Bulfinch, the famed Federalist architect responsible for helping design the , but from its location in the so-called Bulfinch Triangle, a marketing term that real estate developers invented for the somewhat desolate corner of the West End that they've been trying to revitalize. The name isn't the only thing about the Bulfinch that feels a bit like false advertising. The hotel bills itself as a stylish boutique with modern features and amenities -- and while that might have been the case when if first opened in 2005, it's starting to look shabby and out of date. (Even the alleged flat-screen TVs that the website proudly indicates are available in every guest room aren't actually LCD or plasma flat panels -- they're simply tube TVs with flat faces.)
Small touches like the terrycloth bathrobe hiding in the large wooden armoire, the Impressionist oil painting hanging in the gauntlet-like hallway, and the bed's upholstered headboard made my Deluxe King Room attractive and comfortable enough (though I'm skeptical of the 300- to 400-square-foot dimensions that the hotel manager touted -- the room felt pretty cramped). Nearly all of the room's simple wooden furniture, from the desk to the nightstand, was badly scuffed, and the Alpine woolen blanket at the foot of the bed had a noticeable . But otherwise, the quarters were clean. Some deluxe rooms have bathrooms with tub showers, but mine featured a stall shower. The water pressure was strong, and there was an assortment of pleasant-smelling Archive toiletries. One of the hotel's better perks is free in-room (wired) Internet access, but my DSL cable wasn't functioning and had to be replaced, a process that took close to an hour.
There's no business center, and the gym consists of a small basement room with two , an , a "flat-screen" TV, and a bookstand stacked with old paperbacks. The hotel restaurant, the Flat Iron Tapas Bar and Lounge, serves a tasty mélange of well-priced Asian and Mediterranean fare like blackened scallops -- but it remains a bit of a mystery to me why it calls itself a tapas restaurant when the food is neither specifically Spanish nor exclusively focused on small plates. The Flat Iron is open for breakfast and dinner every day of the week and provides room service in the evenings only. Room service has very limited hours of operation.
The Bulfinch's reasonable rates and location close to the North End and Faneuil Hall make it worth considering, as long as service and amenities aren't a priority. But the Onyx Hotel, down the street, offers a more extensive array of services at a similar price. And while there's no on-site restaurant at the equally affordable Harborside Inn, it boasts a better location close to the bars and restaurants of downtown.
The quasi-industrial West End, a neighborhood defined by its proximity to other neighborhoods
Awkwardly situated between the charming North End and old-school Beacon Hill, the Bulfinch Hotel is in the nondescript West End, an area that's best defined by its proximity to other neighborhoods. Once a lively immigrant community, the area was razed in the 1950s and is now a barren, largely industrial territory. TD Garden, home of the Bruins and Celtics, is two blocks north of the hotel, and Massachusetts General Hospital is a 15-minute walk. But Boston's main tourist draws are farther afield, and the surrounding streets are populated with little beyond sports bars and fast-food joints. However, Beacon Hill's lively Cambridge Street, with an array of eating and drinking options, lies three blocks south, and the North End, Boston's Little Italy, is equidistant.
On a barren block in the nondescript West End, the Bulfinch is already showing signs of age, despite having opened in 2005. Rates are reasonable, though, and major attractions are within walking distance. The nearby Onyx Hotel offers more features at a similar price, and the immaculate Harborside Inn is a better bargain closer to the action.