The Lenox Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Fitness center is dark and cramped.
  • Pricey overnight valet parking, though typical for Boston
  • Standard Classic Rooms are on the small side.
  • Limited options for lunch
  • No minibar or luxury-brand sheets and robes

Bottom Line

A fixture in Boston since 1900, this 214-room, green-minded Back Bay boutique offers a prime location near Copley Square, two lively bars, and fantastic free amenities -- including Wi-Fi, morning coffee, and a long list of snacks they'll deliver to the room. Even with a cramped fitness center, this hotel is a solid value.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

More than 100 years old, The Lenox is an elegant, eco-conscious Back Bay hotel with a classic design and some of the best service in the city for the price.

A cozy fire crackles in The Lenox Hotel lobby.
A cozy fire crackles in The Lenox Hotel lobby.

Constructed in 1900 as the most luxurious hotel in New England, this charming Back Bay hotel has welcomed guests for over a century to its 214 rooms on the corner of Boylston and Exeter Street -- a prime location just a block from Copley Square and with bird's eye views of the Boston Marathon finish line. Black-uniformed porters welcome guests into the elegant yet comfortable lobby, accented by marble floors, ebony reception desks, and a wood-burning fireplace kept roaring all day -- often tended to by Jimmy, The Lenox's cherished bellman for over 60 years.

But this isn't a hotel mired in the past -- if anything, The Lenox excels at wedding old-fashioned comforts with a modern sensibility that includes admirable eco-conscious initiatives. The Lenox was the first hotel in the the country to offset 100 percent of its carbon emissions with the purchase of renewable wind energy. The hotel boasts an entire Pure Allergy floor, outfitted with air-purification systems and beddings encased in allergen-proof covers. Rooms may be nostalgically furnished with nod-to-the-past brass chandeliers, draped curtains, and footed dressers -- but they also offer slick new additions like Bose speakers with iPod docks, 37-inch flat-screens, and Aveda toiletries.

For an under-300-room hotel, dining options are impressive: 24-hour room service; Solas, a two-floor Irish pub; City Table restaurant (a more casual and cheaper version of the old Azure); and the sleek City Bar, serving its own house-infused liquors. Tucked away in the basement, the free 24-hour business and fitness centers feature excellent equipment, though they can feel cramped and dark.

Competitors Back Bay Hotel and Hotel Commonwealth do offer their own advantages: Back Bay's got the Irish bar with an outdoor patio; Hotel Commonwealth offers bigger rooms and an extremely popular brasserie staffed by one of the greatest restaurateurs in the city. Still, neither comes close to the luxurious level of service or free amenities The Lenox provides: silver coffee and tea service in the lobby every morning; nightly turndown with bottled water and Lindt truffles; and most impressive, a brochure detailing the over 60 items the hotel will deliver up to the room for free (everything from pepperoni pizza to makeup remover and, if one so desires, the requisite Boston baked beans). For all it offers for the price, this is one of the best values in Boston.

 Service

Excellent, including free treats delivered to the room on request

Porters are always available.
Porters are always available.

There's an astounding level of service for the price here, not the least of which is that guests can order off a menu of 60-plus items that will be delivered up to the room for free -- everything from pepperoni pizza to makeup remover to shoelaces -- and, for a piddling 25 cents extra, a whole list of over-the-counter meds.

  • 24-hour room service
  • List of more than 60 items, most of which can be delivered free to the room upon request
  • Concierge available daily seven days a week
  • Three or four-porters at any time, to help with luggage and hail cabs
  • Nightly turndown with curtains drawn, soft music on, two Lindt truffles on the bed, two bottles of water
  • The hotel has a house car, a Lexus hybrid SUV, but it's not free (a costly $55 ride to the airport, actually).
  • No free overnight shoeshine (costs about $6); free newspapers upon request

 Location

In centrally located Back Bay, a block from Copley Square

The Lenox Hotel is conveniently located in the middle of Back Bay, just a block from Copley Square and two blocks from the Hynes Convention Center, with prime views of the Boston Marathon finish line (from corner rooms overlooking Boylston Street). Back Bay is 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, as it's the home of the Hynes Convention Center, 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 and the 52-acre Boston Common public park (the start of the Freedom Trail) are within a few blocks, but other tourist hotspots, like the North End and Faneuil Hall, are 20 to 30 minutes away via public transportation (a little closer by car). The area is filled with midrange and upscale restaurants, many of them chains, and the South End, a more lively bohemian area with trendy bars and eateries, is a quick 10-minute walk.

  • A half-block from Copley Square stop on the T (Boston's subway system)
  • Two blocks from the shops and cafes of Newbury Street
  • A 10- to 15-minute drive to Faneuil Hall, a historic marketplace and modern day mall
  • About five blocks (a 15 to 20 minute walk) to the Boston Common and the start of the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path that passes through 16 historic landmarks
  • A five-minute drive or 25-minute walk to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox
  • A 15-minute drive to Harvard Square in Cambridge
  • A 20-minute drive to Logan International Airport

 Rooms

Small, elegant, and up-to-date

The Judy Garland Suite, where the actress once stayed
The Judy Garland Suite, where the actress once stayed

The Lenox's sophisticated, old-world rooms may be furnished with nod-to-the-past brass chandeliers, draped curtains, and footed dressers, but look closer and you'll notice slick new additions like Bose speakers, 37-inch flat-screens, and Herman Miller Aeron ergonomic desk chairs. They do run a bit smaller than rooms at the Hotel Commonwealth, though.

  • Rooms differ mostly by square footage. Standard Classic Rooms are on the small side at 280 square feet.
  • Superiors (330 or 375 square feet) and Junior Suites (300 or 500 square feet) come with either a king or two doubles.
  • The 500-square-foot Junior Suite with double beds offers an additional seating area; the 750-square-foot One-Bedroom Suite offers an additional separate living room.
  • For about a fairly reasonable upgrade, guests can book a 400-square-foot Executive Fireplace Room with a wood-burning fireplace (lit by one of The Lenox's bellmen); these corner rooms offer fantastic views of the Boston Marathon finish line.
  • There are two signature suites: the baby-blue hued, feminine Judy Garland Suite, where the actress once lived for three months, and the super-luxurious Back Bay Suite, with extras like a steam shower, wet bar, and a view of the Boston Marathon finish line.
  • Comfortable beds come with pillow-top mattresses, down duvets, and three down pillows.
  • 37-inch HD flat-screen with almost 50 channels, including free HBO. No free DVD player, Playstation and DVD library like at Hotel Commonwealth, unfortunately -- just pay-per-view movies
  • Bose speakers with MP3 dock; additional MP3-compatible clock radio by the bed.
  • No minibar, but there's a mini-fridge stocked with two free bottled waters daily
  • Bathrooms are small but lovely, with Italian marble floors, countertops, and bathtub walls; full line of Aveda toiletries, showerhead with good water pressure (but not a rainfall one), and basic white towels. My room also had one (and only one) cute, blue-and-white seersucker, terry-lined robe from Boca Terry.

 Features

Lots of features for free

The gym is cramped, but has up-to-date equipment.
The gym is cramped, but has up-to-date equipment.

Everything's included in the price here, from the fitness center to business center to morning coffee service. But guests might find the basement-level, one-room gym a bit dark and cramped, even if it does have free bottled water and top-of-the-line equipment.

  • Free, though cramped, 24-hour fitness center is packed with great equipment (just not a whole lot of it). All Precor cardio; three strength-training machines from Paramount and Hoist; Hoist free weights, weight bench. One LG flat-screen. Hand towels, free earphones, bottled water, and magazines provided
  • Right next to the fitness center, the 24-hour free business center offers two Planar computers and an HP printer.
  • List of about 60 items that can be delivered for free to the room upon request
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout hotel
  • Free silver coffee and tea service in the lobby every morning

 Pet-Friendly

Pets are allowed, for a flat-fee per stay.

Pets under 40 lbs. are accepted at The Lenox, but it's one of the few perks that isn't free. Guests must pay a one-time fee per stay for deep cleaning. No real amenities come with the fee.

 Family

Small standard rooms don't lend themselves to big families.

Some of the free amenities are available on request.
Some of the free amenities are available on request.

At 280 square feet, the standard rooms don't offer a whole lot of room for families, and there's no pool on-site which you'd be able to get elsewhere. The Lenox feels more targeted to couples on romantic getaways or to business execs taking advantage of the proximity to the Hynes Convention Center. If you've got kids in tow and want to swim, try the Westin, with its bigger standard rooms and on-site pool.

  • Free cribs; rollaways are charged per night
  • Standard rooms are small; parents should consider booking a 375-square-foot Superior instead with two double beds or a 500-square-foot Junior Suite with an additional sitting area. Both sleep four, or five with a rollaway. Worth noting: Some Junior Suites with king beds also come with a pullout couch to accommodate up to four (no extra cost, just inquire). Connecting rooms are also available.
  • Rooms have a mini-fridge stocked with two free bottles of waters daily.
  • Guests can order free kid-friendly items, like crayons, coloring books, a rubber ducky, and bubble bath, as well as many snacks, from a brochure of more than 60 available items.
  • Children's menu at City Table, but not at Solas -- though the latter has well-priced casual pub grub, including mac and cheese; 24-hour room service doesn't have dedicated kids' menu
  • Four blocks from the Public Garden's Swan Boats, paddle boats shaped like swans that run during the summer (in the winter, there's ice skating)

 Food

A restaurant serving modern American cuisine, an Irish pub, and a trendy bar

City Table serves New American fare
City Table serves New American fare

For an under-300-room hotel, dining options are impressive: 24-hour room service; Solas, a two-floor Irish pub; City Table restaurant (a more casual version of old Azure); and City Bar, offering one of the better cocktail menus in the city plus house-infused liquors.

  • A more casual (and cheaper) predecessor of the former Azure restaurant, the newly opened City Table serves modern American cuisine with an emphasis on seafood; open for breakfast and dinner, not lunch.
  • Sleek and dimly lit, with big leather couches, the trendy City Bar offers some of the city's better cocktails, made with fresh juices, purees, and house-infused liquors; an abbreviated dinner and snacks menu from City Table is also available.
  • A popular (and boisterous) afterwork spot for grabbing a pint, the two-floor Irish pub Solas offers the cheapest dining at The Lenox, serving classic Irish fare like shepherd's pie and pub grub like mac and cheese; the only option here for lunch aside from room service.
  • 24-hour in-room dining

 Cleanliness

Totally clean rooms and common areas

With a renovation back in 2008, the room furniture, hallways, and common areas are still in excellent condition. There was no dust in the bedroom or mildew in the bathroom.

 Eco Initiatives

Offsets 100 percent of its carbon emissions with the purchase of renewable energy

Well-designed recycling bins in all rooms
Well-designed recycling bins in all rooms

A pioneer in eco-tourism, The Lenox was the first hotel in the country to offset 100 percent of its carbon emissions and air pollution from electricity use with the purchase of renewable wind energy.

  • Paper, plastic, and aluminum recycle bins in all the rooms and the fitness center
  • Waterless urinals that save 180,000 gallons of water a year
  • Hotel car is a hybrid Lexus SUV.
  • Double-paned glass in the rooms to reduce energy use
  • 4,800 efficient lights installed throughout hotel
  • Environmentally friendly cleaning products and clean-burning firewood logs

 Weddings

Great food, solid service, and fair prices make this Boston staple a smart choice.

It's classic and luxurious, yet still affordable.
It's classic and luxurious, yet still affordable.
  • Wedding Size: Up to 200 guests
  • Ceremony Location: The Dome Room
  • Extra Fees: Ceremony fee
  • Wedding Package: The Simply Elegant package includes two wedding coordinators, some simple decorations, a three-course plated dinner with a champagne toast (but no wine), a cheese display, one bartender, a coat check attendant, a wedding cake and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Alternatively, the Back Bay Classic also includes a piano player for the cocktail hour, five passed hors d'oeuvres, some wine with dinner, and a honeymoon suite for the bride and groom on their wedding night (the suite even has a working fireplace). Even better, all of these prices include the price of taxes and service fees; at most other hotels, there's at least another 30 percent added to the final bill.
  • Food: In addition to the salad, appetizer, and cake that comes with the basic package, you can choose from eight different entrees, ranging from herb-crusted chicken to grilled swordfish to filet mignon. Note, however, that once you offer your guests a choice of entrees, you add on another fee to the total per person cost. Also, unlike most other hotels, all kids under the age of five eat free (elsewhere, it's three and younger) and kids ages five to 12 eat for about half the price than at nearby establishments. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu items also available.
  • Drinks: You can choose a cash bar (your guests pay for drinks), a hosted bar (meaning you run a tab), or an open bar for five hours. Also note that there's an extra fee per bartender (one bartender required for every 75 guests).

 Bottom Line

A fixture in Boston since 1900, this 214-room, green-minded Back Bay boutique offers a prime location near Copley Square, two lively bars, and fantastic free amenities -- including Wi-Fi, morning coffee, and a long list of snacks they'll deliver to the room. Even with a cramped fitness center, this hotel is a solid value.

Things You Should Know About The Lenox Hotel

Address

  • 61 Exeter Street, Boston, Ma, 02116

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Lenox Hotel Boston

Room Types

  • Classic Room
  • Executive Fireplace Room
  • Judy Garland Suite
  • Junior Suite
  • One Bedroom Suite
  • Superior Room
  • The Back Bay Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 214
Pool: No
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Back Bay, Boston
Address: 61 Exeter Street, Boston, Ma, 02116
(See Map)
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