Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
With nine floors and 424 rooms, the InterContinental Boston does swift business and appeals to a broad spectrum of travelers. During my stay, I witnessed families with kids enjoying the pool, a gaudily dressed wedding party making its way from the lobby to one of the banquet rooms, a knot of film crew regulars enjoying drinks at the Japanese fusion boite Sushi-Teq, and corporate types from the nearby business district three deep at the raucous cocktail lounge RumBa. There's no question this is a luxury property, but it manages to be grand without feeling pretentious.
The palatial property has been well-kept and looks and feels brand new, with a grand, sparkling marble lobby dotted with potted orchids and white roses, backlit displays of pottery, and seating alcoves lined with bookcases. Rooms are large, immaculate and contemporary, with comfortable pillow-top beds, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and huge marble bathrooms, but they lack modern electronics like iPod docks or DVD players. (Despite the website's advertisement of in-room sound systems, no such feature is currently present in standard rooms, and management couldn't confirm when these purported upgrades would take place.)
Superior amenities like the on-site InterContinental Spa and Health Club are impressive, but service seems out of step with the proffered image of luxury. Check-in is long and overly complicated; interactions with staffers can be cumbersome and unpolished. And there's a lack of unique, local character -- this could be an InterContinental anywhere.
Though located in the comparatively drab Financial District, the Langham bests the InterCon with its distinctive Bostonian charm and five-star service. The Boston Harbor Hotel, though slightly more expensive, boasts authentic New England character, Clef d'Or concierge service, and a four-star restaurant. And the more affordable Fairmont Battery Wharf offers comparable amenities and rooms with views that better exploit the waterfront address.
Plenty of service, but the basics are not well executed
Uniformed porters and valets tripped over themselves to help me from my cab to the front desk, but the solicitous service ended there. The front desk was woefully understaffed and the receptionist slow and inefficient when I checked in, leaving an increasingly restless line of travelers rolling their eyes and tapping their toes. And when I inquired about nearby sightseeing attractions with the concierge, she couldn't get rid of me fast enough, handing me a map and offering a tight smile. A request to guest services that a pair of scissors be delivered to my room seemed to bewilder the attendant, though after speaking to three separate people and giving my word that I'd return the scissors after using them, I convinced someone to bring them to me.
Prime downtown waterfront location within walking distance to Faneuil Hall and the Fort Point gallery district
The InterContinental is situated on prime waterfront real estate, looking out onto scenic Fort Point Channel, the site of the Boston Tea Party. The hotel shares the fairly sterile surrounding blocks with a smattering of skyscrapers and luxury condos, but is an easy walk to and downtown. The restaurants and galleries of Fort Point are a 10-minute walk across the Summer Street Bridge.
Huge, sleek, and immaculate
Spacious standard rooms are among the biggest in downtown Boston, ranging from 420 to 480 square feet (significantly bigger than those at the Fairmont Battery Wharf or the Hilton Boston Financial District and marginally smaller than the Boston Harbor Hotel). My Double Double Deluxe was clean and beautiful, with plush carpeting and furniture in muted neutral tones and a marbled entryway and bathroom. At check-in, the receptionist informed me that construction was underway next to the hotel and offered to put me in a room away from the noise. The room was indeed quiet, but unfortunately, the view was of a corporate office just across the way, so there was little natural light.
The InterContinental offers all the features one might expect of a luxury hotel. The most alluring amenity is the 6,000-square-foot InterContinental Spa and Health Club, which encompasses a huge, 24-hour fitness center, indoor lap pool, locker rooms outfitted with a steam room, and six treatment rooms where guests can book an extensive array of spa services. Chilled water infused with citrus and melon is provided for guests using the fitness center.
A good pick for families
Despite its soigné appearance and lack of an official kids' club, the InterContinental offers a lot for families. Large rooms, close proximity to the Boston Children's Museum, and a lap pool that's frequented by playful tykes, plus a relatively sophisticated kids' menu, make it an appealing choice for parents traveling with their brood.
Fastidious housekeeping; super clean from top to bottom
Seemingly every corner of this property is spotless and in excellent condition: The gleaming, high-ceilinged lobby -- which gets its share of foot traffic -- is immaculate, the gym and pool are spic and span, and the rooms are clean.
Allows small pets
Pets under 35 pounds are allowed provided guests pay a one-time cleaning fee. The entire 6th floor is allocated for guests with pets. Dog-walking services are available through the concierge.
An array of tasty on-site restaurants
The lobby level features two full-service restaurants, Miel and Sushi-Teq, and one Caribbean-themed cocktail lounge, RumBa, all of which were packed to the gills on a recent Friday night. Be sure to make dinner reservations in advance if you're planning a weekend stay or you could be waiting an hour or more for a table.
Palatial, contemporary, and elegant, the InterContinental offers huge, immaculate rooms and an array of decadent amenities (massage, pool, sushi, cocktails) in a scenic harborside location, but the service doesn't quite compare to that at Boston's best luxury hotels.