- No full spa on-site
- Pricey valet parking
An atmophere of classic luxury supported by a friendly, impeccable staff elevate this Back Bay hotel to the top of its category.
"Life doesn't need to be so hard," the Four Seasons Boston seems to whisper. From the moment guests arrive at the hotel, beautifully situated across the street from the Public Garden and surrounded by luxury stores, their needs are anticipated. Want to take a run? A thoughtful jogging map is already in your room. Thirsty? Someone is already handing you a bottle of water. Need a ride? The concierge is more than happy to arrange for the house car to take you.
Everything, from the television channel guide to the upscale comfort food at the Bristol Lounge, is just a little bit better, a little easier to operate, a whole lot tastier, at the Four Seasons, and yet, the hotel's charms are subtle. It doesn't have a grand lobby like the Fairmont Copley Plaza or strikingly modern guest rooms like the Mandarin Oriental, but it does have the best service in the city, a classic restaurant, and a gorgeous pool with floor-to-ceiling views of the Public Garden.
About that pool -- it's not the average indoor hotel swimming pool where you do laps amid the unpleasant scent of chlorine. This is an indoor pool of a different ilk, a relaxing spot to grab some free coffee and fruit in the early morning, perhaps even put on a robe and slippers as guests are urged to do by the considerate attendant. It's a place to wile away the morning reading on a lounge chair.
The hotel underwent a massive, $50-million renovation in 2006, though that's not immediately apparent. It doesn't feel as modern as the Ritz-Carlton Boston Common nor is it brand-new like the Mandarin Oriental. Rather, its elegant design strives for a sense of timelessness, not big thrills. But ultimately, it's the Four Seasons' thoughtful, unfailing service that elevates it above its competitors. The service creates a remarkably consistent, relaxing experience. If only life outside of the Four Seasons could be so easy.
The best service in the city
With a highly professional, friendly staff that anticipates guests' every need, the Four Seasons offers the best service in the city. As you might expect, there are high-end service features here, as at its competitors, like a free house car and 24-hour room service. But the Four Seasons excels in the small details. As I was finishing up my last mile on the treadmill in the gym one evening, an attendant placed a bottle of water in my cup holder without my requesting it. Later that evening, when I was working in my room and needed a mouse pad, someone was at my door with it in under three minutes, and asked if there was anything, anything at all, they could do for me. The hotel staff is wonderfully attentive, never snobbish, and they make sure guests know about the amenities available to them, from the house car to the robe and slippers in the pool locker room; too often, this is not the case at other hotels.
On the edge of the tony Back Bay area and downtown, overlooking the beautiful Public Garden
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 Stuart Street Playhouse, an art house movie theater, is a short walk from the hotel, while the nearby Theater District 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.
Tasteful, luxurious, and thoughtfully laid out
With a light blue, gold, taupe, and white color scheme, and traditional furnishings, rooms offer classic, understated luxury, if not high design. There are thoughtful touches throughout, from channel listings to a clearly labeled cord for hooking up an iPod to the TV. Bathrooms are similarly stylish. Renovated in 2013, they feature granite floors and countertops with oversized showers in some rooms, or seperate showers and tubs in others. They uphold the rest of the rooms' classic, understated luxury.
Starting at 375 square feet, the entry level rooms, called "Moderate," are slightly smaller than the entry level rooms at the Mandarin (400 square feet) and the Ritz-Carlton (425 square feet). However, the hotel has just two Moderate Rooms; the vast majority of its guest rooms are 400-square-foot Deluxe Rooms. There are also a handful of Superior Rooms, in between Moderate and Deluxe, that are 380 square feet.
With a beautiful top-floor health club offering impeccable service, and a pool with beautiful views of the park, the Four Season's standout features elevate it above the competition. The 8th-floor fitness center has four Precor elliptical machines, six treadmills, two stair climbers, and three bikes, all with individual TVs and printouts of the channels available. There's also a great selection of free weights, medicine balls, fitness balls, a stretching mat, seven Cybex weight machines, both bottled water and fruit-infused water, chilled towels, and apples.
A top luxury pick for families
With a pool, a parkfront location, and top-level, accommodating service, the Four Seasons is a top luxury pick for families. It sits across the street from the Public Garden, a beautiful flowery park featuring a lake with swan boat rides in the summer and ice skating in the winter.
From the lobby's gleaming black floor to the guest rooms, this is a thoroughly clean hotel. The pool and fitness center are especially well maintained and are free of the unpleasant chlorine stench typical of indoor pools and their nearby gyms. Rooms were last renovated in 2006; the only minor cleanliness issue I encountered was a slight stain on the desk chair in my room.
A classic restaurant and 24-hour room service
The Four Seasons has just one bar and restaurant on-site, but it's a pretty great one. With its clubby, heavily wooded decor, the Bristol Lounge is a classic place to grab tea, a cocktail, or some upscale comfort food. It easily bests the Ritz-Carlton's restaurant, though the Mandarin Oriental has more dining options. The Four Seasons did once too, but it closed its fine(r) dining establishment, Aujord'hui, in the summer of 2009.
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