Front desk staff and concierge are curt and unpolished.
Affordable, austere but attractive, and located in a landmarked building that's home to the nation's oldest YWCA, the Hotel 140 offers a budget-friendly alternative to the chains and luxury properties in posh Back Bay. But don't expect attention to detail, amenities, or service with a smile.
Affordable and clean, with attractive but austere rooms and virtually no services or amenities
Despite its best efforts to market itself as a boutique design hotel, the 54-room Hotel 140 in upscale Back Bay feels somewhat institutional -- like an Ikea-decorated boarding house. There's a reason for this: The hotel is owned by the YWCA and located in a historic 1929 building that once housed the nation's first YWCA headquarters. The Y's administrative offices are still here, in fact, and hotel revenue helps fund the organization. That's all very nice, but travelers who show up with heightened expectations of a stylish stay will end up disappointed.
The Commonwealth room, which is one rung above a standard room, is on the small side (roughly 200 square feet), clean and bright, with blond wood furnishings and a pillow-topped full-size bed covered in a pretty cotton stitched quilt. The bathroom is clean but very small. In 2012, the guestrooms were redone one-by-one so as to not disturb guests. The new modern designs feel much homier than their predecessors, with more inviting, colorful decor. Though still not the height of style, the rooms are more cheeful and feel less like dorm rooms now that they feature pops of color and accessories that give the space a lived-in look.
Service is nearly nonexistent. No porters or valets were on hand to help me with my heavy bags. I arrived a few hours early and was told that I couldn't gain entry to my room until the official check-in time. With a few hours to kill, I asked the college-age concierge for a lunch recommendation nearby. It took him several minutes to orient himself on a map, and after setting me up with a laughably indirect route to Newbury Street, he inexplicably advised me to visit the Juicy Couture store. Uh, thanks?
There's a tiny two-machine fitness room, or you can walk two blocks to the full-service Revolution Gym, which is free for Hotel 140 guests. Room service is provided by upscale American restaurant Post 390 across the street.
If you must stay in Back Bay, you won't find much that's cheaper than Hotel 140. If you're willing to spend a little more, you have several solid options. The quaint, historic Copley Square Hotel offers much more in the way of service (free coffee and tea and a daily wine reception) and guest rooms with more modern trappings. The Marriot Courtyard Copley Square nearby affords much bigger guest rooms and an affordable breakfast buffet. And the Colonnade has a roof-top pool and a tasty on-site restaurant.
Across from the John Hancock Tower, centrally located in the tony Back Bay area of Boston
The hotel sits in the middle of the city in Back Bay, an upscale commercial and residential area where skyscrapers tower above centuries-old churches and expensive brownstone homes. It's 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, 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 20 to 30 minutes away via public transportation. The area is filled with midrange and upscale restaurants, many of them chains; the South End, a more lively bohemian area with trendy bars and eateries, is a quick 10-minute walk away.
Logan International Airport is about 30 minutes by taxi.
The nearest stops on the T (Boston's subway system) are Arlington Station on the Green Line and Back Bay Station on the Orange Line, both about two blocks away. Regional trains and Amtrak are also stop at the Back Bay Station.
Faneuil Hall, a historic tourist marketplace with more than 150 shops and cafes, is 15 to 20 minutes away via the T.
Five-minute walk to the Boston Common, the large park in the center of the city; 15-minute walk to the start of the Freedom Trail (inside the Boston Common), 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 the T.
Newbury Street, a lovely brownstone-lined corridor with great shopping and dining, is just three blocks away.
Copley Square, the endpoint of the Boston Marathon and a beautiful public square with an interesting mix of architecture, is about two blocks away.