Hotel Marlowe Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Some guests may find the "discovery" theme heavy-handed and silly.
  • No pool
  • Nightly fee for Wi-Fi (free for Kimpton InTouch members)

Bottom Line

With large, playfully furnished rooms, the 236-room Hotel Marlowe is one of Cambridge's most family-friendly hotels. Its neighbor, the Royal Sonesta Hotel, is cheaper and has a pool, but the Marlowe offers a boutique-like feel at a reasonable price, with personality to spare.

Oyster Awards

We investigate in person.
Like your mother-in-law.

Categories

,

Oyster Hotel Photos

View All 6 Albums

Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

With large rooms and a heavy "discovery" theme, the Marlowe manages a mix of comfort and fun that makes it especially good for families.

Heavy "discovery theme" throughout
Heavy "discovery theme" throughout

The most striking thing about the 236-room Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge is that its design all hinges on a theme of "discovery." The decor and art all hint at nautical exploration, space expeditions, or introspection. Compasses and leopard prints are everywhere. The hallway carpets reminded me of a child's spaceship pajamas: a smattering of stars and moons on a dark blue background. The hotel, which is run by the Kimpton chain, even has a motto: "Columbus, Magellan, Dora -- they've got nothing on Marlowe. We recognize that life is about discovery -- new places, new things, new people, even discovering yourself."

Let's just say the hotel isn't exactly subtle. Whether you like the effect or not, if you look beneath the Marlowe's heavy-handed theme you'll find a hotel that prides itself on surprisingly good service, large and playful rooms, and an array of free perks that includes a nightly wine tasting, morning coffee, and bike and kayak rentals. The surrounding area is both scenic (across the street from the Charles River) and a bit dull (not much to do), but the Marlowe is actually quite central; Boston and Cambridge are equally accessible.

All of which adds up to a great value. The comparably priced Hotel Commonwealth in Beacon Hill is classier, but the Marlowe is better for families. The Royal Sonesta Hotel, just across the street, is a bit cheaper and has a nice indoor/outdoor pool, but the Marlowe is far more comfortable -- the kind of place to settle in by the fireplace in the lobby and ponder your latest discoveries.

 Service

Terrific and attentive service across the board

24-hour Room Service from Bambara
24-hour Room Service from Bambara

The Marlowe successfully strives to provide guests with prompt and friendly service. Hardly had I paid my cab fare when a Marlowe bellman lifted my bags from the trunk and loaded them onto a cart. He accompanied me to the front desk, whereupon I checked in and was transferred, along with my bags, into the care of another bellman who escorted me to my room. There, he set up my suitcase on a luggage rack and explained some of the room's features. None of this was all that novel, of course, but it was seamlessly conducted and made a great first impression.

There were a few slip-ups in the course of my stay, but nothing major. When I called to request evening turndown service, a front desk employee kindly took my name and room number, but for whatever reason the hotel staff never made it up to my room. Also, I took advantage of the hotel's free overnight shoeshine service, which promises to return your shoes by 6:30 the following morning. Well, when I woke up, no shoes. I called the front desk to inquire and was told that whoever collected my shoes neglected to note my room number, so they were holding the mystery shoes at the front desk, waiting for me to call. My shoes were promptly delivered to my room.

  • Turndown service by request
  • Free overnight shoeshine
  • The hotel provides in-room spa service, ranging from a 50-minute "Signature Massage" to an 80-minute hot-stone massage.
  • Optional discounted self-parking; valet is slightly more expensive
  • 24-hour room service from Bambara, the adjacent restaurant
  • Concierge is available throughout the day.
  • The Marlowe is on the same block as the Cambridgeside Galleria Shopping Center, a large mall with stores, coffee shops, and restaurants including Macy's, Starbucks, Cheesecake Factory, and Borders.

 Location

A scenic but somewhat dull location near the Charles River in Cambridge

Situated to the northwest of Boston, just across the Charles River, Cambridge seems at once part of and distinct from the city. Cambridge provides much of the classic and academic -- some would say dowdy -- imagery for which Boston is known: stately red brick townhouses; the sight of rowers launching from ancient boathouses on the banks of the Charles; the elite atmosphere that envelops Harvard, the nation's oldest university. And yet Cambridge virtually buzzes with energy; biotech companies, countless startups, and the studious whir of college-town activity combine to make it one of the country's most vibrant intellectual centers. Cambridge is also home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and just as Harvard exudes a musty air of the American establishment, MIT proudly embraces its brand of nerdiness: Where else do you find a street named Galileo Galilei Way?

The Marlowe is located in Cambridge across the street from the Charles River -- a scenic but somewhat dull location, without much activity nearby. That said, it's actually quite central; Boston and Cambridge are equally accessible. On the same block as the hotel is the Cambridgeside Galleria Shopping Center, a large mall with stores, coffee shops, and restaurants including Macy's, Starbucks, Cheesecake Factory, and Borders.

  • Five-minute walk to the Kendall/MIT stop on the T (Boston's subway system)
  • Five- to 10-minute drive to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox
  • Five- to 10-minute drive to Boston Common and the start of the Freedom Trail
  • Five- to 10-minute drive to Faneuil Hall, a historic tourist marketplace with more than 150 shops and cafes.
  • 10- to 15-minute drive to Harvard Square
  • 10- to 15-minute drive to Logan International Airport

 Rooms

The Marlowe's 340-square-foot rooms are cozy, with hints of silliness.

The Deluxe Room
The Deluxe Room

How many leopards died to make the Hotel Marlowe possible? Thankfully, none. But leopard-print fabrics are given a lot of prominence in the hotel's standard 340-square-foot rooms, from the carpet to the fuzzy blanket at the foot of the bed to the adult- and kid-size bathrobes. The overall effect feels partly romantic and partly like it was designed specifically for kids. But the rooms also feel just plain comfy, with plush pillows, a deep armchair, high-end electronics, and lamps that dim.

 Features

Nice free perks, including discounts at the hotel restaurant, along with an adequate fitness center and business center

Adequate Fitness Center
Adequate Fitness Center

The Marlowe understands something fundamental about human nature: People like free stuff. There's a free nightly wine tasting and free coffee and tea in the lobby each morning from 6:30 to 11. When I entered my room, I found a coupon tacked to the bathroom mirror for half off a bottle of wine or dessert at Bambara, the hotel restaurant -- not a bad deal at all. Guests also get 10 percent off dinner at Bambara if they charge it to their room. The hotel offers free kayaks and bicycles so guests can explore the area, and it maintains a library of books, which can be delivered to your room. Among the titles: Huck Finn, Romeo and Juliet, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, The Namesake, Holes, Goodnight Moon, James and the Giant Peach, Beowulf, Make Way For Ducklings, Ramona the Brave.

  • 24-hour business center has two Macs and a printer/copier; it's pricey for 15 minutes of Internet access.
  • Free New York Times delivered to your room Monday through Saturday
  • The 8th-floor fitness center has Life Fitness brand equipment: three elliptical machines, four treadmills, two bikes (one stationary, one recumbent), a rowing machine, and some free weights. Most machines have personal video screens.
  • No pool. Those who want a hotel with a pool should check out the Royal Sonesta Hotel, just across the street.
  • The hotel hosts a different author each month as part of its Discovery Reading series with Pen New England.
  • Guests get free use of telescopes at the Museum of Science observatory across the street.
  • Free kayak and bike rentals
  • The hotel will deliver a coffeemaker and coffee to your room by request, for free.

 Pet Friendly

The Marlowe loves all pets. Really.

Doggie treats at the Front Desk
Doggie treats at the Front Desk

The Marlowe is enthusiastically pet-friendly. The hotel has even hosted a penguin and a sloth. There's a dog bowl with treats and water outside the front door of the hotel, and guests can order treats from room service.

  • No fee for pets
  • The hotel rewards pets who have stayed at the Marlowe five times with a lunch box full of treats.
  • They'll order your pet a birthday cake from their "preferred dog treat shop" Polka Dog Bakery.
  • Special "Pampered Pet Package" includes one night accommodations for you and your pet, plus a box of treats, a fleece blanket, and either a dog bed or a scratching post.

 Family

The Marlowe is one of Cambridge's most family-friendly hotels.

The Marlowe's large 340-square-foot rooms are accommodating to families, and some kids will enjoy the KimptonKids welcome gift and the child-size animal-print robes in the rooms. The hotel also provides kids' comment cards and a list of kid-friendly activities in the area.

  • Large 340-square-foot rooms
  • Cribs are free
  • Rollaway beds available for a nightly fee
  • Connecting rooms available
  • Room service kids' menu, from Bambara restaurant

 Food

A nice restaurant is just off the lobby.

Dessert at Bambara Restaurant
Dessert at Bambara Restaurant

Bambara, adjacent to the hotel and accessible through the lobby, serves creative American cuisine such as roasted shallot meatloaf or triple pumpkin risotto. It's casual and relatively sophisticated, with an open kitchen, hardwood floors, and a U-shaped central bar. The crowd is a mix of couples out for a nice dinner and people watching sports at the bar. When I entered my room, I found a coupon tacked to the bathroom mirror for half off a bottle of wine or dessert -- not a bad deal at all.

  • Adjacent restaurant Bambara open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and for weekend brunch
  • Guests get 10 percent off dinner at Bambara if they charge it to their room.
  • 24-hour room service provided by Bambara
  • There's not a whole lot to do in the neighborhood, but the Cambridgeside Galleria Shopping Center down the block has dining options like a Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang's and California Pizza Kitchen

 Cleanliness

Perfectly clean

From the lobby to the leopard-print carpets in the rooms, the Marlowe is well maintained. Soft refurbishings in 2011 also help in this regard.

 Bottom Line

With large, playfully furnished rooms, the 236-room Hotel Marlowe is one of Cambridge's most family-friendly hotels. Its neighbor, the Royal Sonesta Hotel, is cheaper and has a pool, but the Marlowe offers a boutique-like feel at a reasonable price, with personality to spare.

Things You Should Know About Hotel Marlowe

Address

  • 25 Edwin H Land Boulevard, Cambridge, MA, 02141

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Hotel Marlowe - a Kimpton Hotel
  • Hotel Marlowe Kimpton

Room Types

  • Deluxe Room
  • Deluxe View Room
  • Executive Suite
  • Presidential Suite
  • Studio Suite

Enter dates for best prices

Check-in
Check-out
Guests
 AVG/NIGHT 
Hotels.com  
Expedia.com  
Tingo.com  
Booking.com  
Travelocity  
Otel.com  
Priceline.com  
CheapTickets.com  

All About Oyster

You Can't Return a Bad Vacation.

Our special investigators visit, photograph, review and rate each hotel. We uncover the truth, before it's "uh-oh" time.

Go undercover with an Oyster Investigator The Today Show
Go Undercover with an Oyster Investigator
See 56 Videos of Oyster on TV

Nearby Hotels to Consider

Royal Sonesta Hotel
Royal Sonesta Hotel
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Rating: 35 Pearls

Distance: 0.1 mi
Liberty Hotel
Liberty Hotel
North End and Beacon Hill, Boston
Rating: 40 Pearls

Distance: 0.5 mi
Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill
Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill
North End and Beacon Hill, Boston
Rating: 30 Pearls

Distance: 0.6 mi
Boston Marriott Cambridge
Boston Marriott Cambridge
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Rating: 35 Pearls

Distance: 0.7 mi

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 236
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
View All

Hotel Information

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Address: 25 Edwin H Land Boulevard, Cambridge, MA, 02141
(See Map)
Loading Live Rates
Loading...
multiple hotels like on roundups