Intercontinental Boston Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Downtown and Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Daily fee for in-room Wi-Fi
  • Lacks distinctive Bostonian character
  • Some minor service issues
  • Spillover noise from lobby-level restaurants
  • Valet parking is pricey

Bottom Line

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.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Deluxe amenities (like the gorgeous spa), subtly elegant rooms, and adequate service makes the InterContinental a solid choice for big-box luxury.

InterContinental's expansive lobby
InterContinental's expansive lobby

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.

 Service

Plenty of service, but the basics are not well executed

Room service
Room service

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.

  • 24-hour room service, delivered by tuxedoed waiters
  • Chauffeured luxury cars can be secured via the concierge for a minimum of two hours; Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac Escalades available for a steep price.
  • Free delivery of Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Boston Globe, New York Times or Financial Times
  • Same-day laundry and dry cleaning available
  • Turndown service available
  • Valet parking is pricey.

 Location

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 Faneuil Hall and downtown. The restaurants and galleries of Fort Point are a 10-minute walk across the Summer Street Bridge.

  • Five-minute walk to South Station, the largest train station and intercity bus terminal in Boston
  • 10- to 15-minute walk to Faneuil Hall, a historic marketplace and modern-day mall
  • Less than a mile, or about a 20-minute walk, to the 50-acre Boston Common, the country's oldest park and the start of Boston's 2.5-mile Freedom Trail
  • A few-minutes' drive to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
  • Twenty-minute ride to Harvard Square on the T (Boston's subway)
  • About a 25-minute cab ride to Boston's Logan International Airport; water taxis dock right outside the hotel's harborside to the airport

 Rooms

Huge, sleek, and immaculate

Large rooms have pillow-top beds.
Large rooms have pillow-top beds.

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.

  • Large standard rooms range from 420 to 480 square feet.
  • Huge marble bathroom is spotless; equipped with deep tub, glassed-in stall shower with a detachable showerhead, Floris toiletries, monogrammed robes, a scale, and a telephone.
  • Pillow-top mattresses are swaddled in silky blankets and 300-plus-thread-count sheets -- but only two pillows to a bed.
  • Standard rooms contain either two double beds or one king bed for the same price; standards with harbor views are slightly more than city view.
  • 32-inch, flat-screen plasma TV
  • 24-hour room service, delivered by tuxedoed waiters
  • Each room is equipped with an iHome
  • Wi-Fi is not free.

 Features

Plenty of appealing amenities -- including a gorgeous spa and fitness facility

The spa gives priority booking to hotel guests.
The spa gives priority booking to hotel guests.

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.

  • Gym has five recumbent bikes, four elliptical machines, five treadmills, free weights, and half a dozen weight training machines, plus ample space for stretching.
  • 45-foot, heated indoor lap pool
  • Blond-wood-accented locker room features steam room.
  • Spa offers extensive menu of services; hotel guests are given priority booking and the $10 facility access fee is waived.
  • Penfields' gift shop and business center features two desktop computers with printers; courier service and mobile phone rental available
  • Pets under 35 pounds are allowed provided guests pay a one-time cleaning fee.
  • For an extra fee per night, guests can access the InterContinental Club Lounge, which offers perks like free breakfast and evening hors d'oeuvres, free Wi-Fi, and access to a DVD lending library.

 Family

A good pick for families

Heated indoor pool is a plus for kids.
Heated indoor pool is a plus for kids.

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.

  • Huge standard rooms start at 420 square feet; adjoining rooms available.
  • Heated indoor pool
  • Free cribs; rollaway beds are rather steep per night.
  • Refrigerators can be rented per night.
  • Miel's children's menu includes chicken fingers with frites, spaghetti Bolognese, and baby Kobe beef burgers
  • The Boston Children's Museum is just across Fort Point Channel.
  • 10-minute walk to the New England Aquarium
  • Water taxi docks in front of the hotel's harborside
  • Babysitting referrals can be arranged through the concierge.
  • DVD players and access to lending library are only available to InterContinental Club Lounge members.

 Cleanliness

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.

 Pets

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.

 Food

An array of tasty on-site restaurants

Miel features an outdoor terrace.
Miel features an outdoor terrace.

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.

  • Miel serves excellent Provencal food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch; offers an outdoor terrace.
  • Popular, shoebox-size fusion spot Sushi-Teq serves sushi rolls and tequila-infused cocktails (including a delicious jalapeno margarita
  • RumBa cocktail lounge offers Caribbean-style drinks like the champagne mojito and a bar menu with small plates like pulled pork sliders
  • The Moulin-Rouge-themed Champagne Bar off the lobby is available for private parties.

 Bottom Line

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.

Things You Should Know About Intercontinental Boston

Address

  • 510 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA, 02210

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Boston Intercontinental

Room Types

  • Ambassador Suite
  • Deluxe Cityside Room
  • Deluxe Room
  • Deluxe Waterfront Room
  • Deluxe Waterfront Room
  • Executive Suite
  • Junior Suite
  • Junior Suite Waterfront View
  • King Club Intercontinental
  • Penthouse North
  • Penthouse South
  • Presidential Suite
  • Superior Room
  • Superior Suite

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Nearby Hotels to Consider

Boston Harbor Hotel
Langham Hotel Boston
Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall
Marriott's Boston Custom House: A Marriott Vacation Club Resort

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 424
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: Downtown and Waterfront, Boston
Address: 510 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA, 02210
(See Map)
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