Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A cozy, fairly luxurious 225-room hotel with European charm and an intriguing history
It's hard to imagine that the homey, 225-room Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel, with its cozy, comfortable rooms, was ever an office building where the work centered around gritty crimes and hardened criminals -- but that's exactly what it was. Built in the 1920s, the building was Boston's police headquarters throughout the last century. In 2004, the Irish hotel group the Doyle Group transformed the building into Jury's Boston Hotel, and in 2009 rebranded it the Back Bay.
Today, the hotel pays homage to both its police headquarters history and its Irish ownership. The hotel bar is named Cuffs, and black-and-white photographs of the police days hang in the hallways. The hotel's meeting rooms are named after famous Irish writers, and the décor conjures a warm, tasteful European library. It's an eclectic mix, but it works, creating a hotel with a unique, unpretentious charm that focuses on small, thoughtful luxuries.
At just under 290 square feet, standard guest rooms aren't huge, but that's also true of one of its main competitors in the area, the Lenox Hotel. Rooms are nicely decorated with luxurious beds and modern electronics. Guests are greeted with hot towels at check-in, bathrooms have towel warmers, and rooms are stocked with free bottled water.
With a mediocre gym and turndown service only by request in standard rooms (it's automatic in higher room categories), the hotel lacks the feeling of full-on luxury you get in some of the more expensive hotels in the area -- the Mandarin Oriental and the Taj Boston, for example. For the price, though, the Back Bay is quite nice, especially with a worthwhile upgrade from a standard room to a Deluxe Room. The lobby is spacious and well decorated, the business center and in-room Wi-Fi are free, the restaurant has good food and friendly service, and the lively bar draws a steady stream of well-heeled young locals, especially in the summer when its outdoor patio area is open. And while the hotel is located in an area popular with conventions and large groups, about three quarters of the guests here are individual business and leisure travelers, so the property doesn't feel overrun by large groups, as nearby hotels like the Boston Park Plaza and Marriott Boston Copley Place can. For those looking for a moderately priced, fairly luxurious property with some historic charm, this is a top pick.
Personable and full of nice touches
Though it has more than 200 rooms, the Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel has friendly, personable service that makes it feel like a smaller boutique hotel. Doormen and porters are quick to offer a hand. At check-in, guests are greeted with a elegantly presented on a plate with a fresh flower. Service in the restaurant is warm, polished, and accommodating; servers remember guests from previous meals and greet them with a "welcome back." The only service disappointment I had was when I asked for a plate and some silverware to be sent to my room so I could eat some treats I'd picked up at the farmers' market and was told they'd have to charge me a room-service delivery fee; it felt like I was being nickel-and-dimed. Overall, the service is quite a bit warmer than that at the nearby and more formal Taj Boston, and comparable to the excellent service at the Lenox Hotel, also in the area.
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.
Not huge but lovely and pretty luxurious
Guest rooms are soothing and inviting, decorated in a contemporary style in tastefully subdued colors. The standard Superior Rooms are 290 square feet -- comparable to those at the Lenox but smaller than those at the Colonnade. Within those 290 square feet, there are plenty of nice touches: wonderfully comfortable beds with Frette linens, refrigerators stocked with free bottled water, heated towel racks, free Wi-Fi. For another $40 or so a night, Deluxe Rooms are a bit larger, at 340 square feet, and feature standalone showers and large tubs. Deluxe Rooms also feature in-room Nespresso coffeemakers, outlet strips with audiovisual hookups, and automatic turndown service (which is available only by request in standard rooms). The old building has relatively small windows, so no matter what room class you're in, your won't be bathed in natural light. Thoughtful layouts and high ceilings manage to make the rooms feel airy nonetheless, but if you're worried about feeling closed in, try the Colonnade, where even the standard rooms have huge windows.
As a smallish hotel in an old building, the Back Bay's features are limited. The small business center, just off the lobby, is nicely decorated and free to use, but the fitness center is disappointing. For a better fitness center, try the Colonnade Hotel. There's no pool or spa.
A family-friendly atmosphere, but standard rooms are on the small side and there's no pool
With a delightful, unpretentious atmosphere and central location, the hotel can accommodate families, but it isn't particularly well suited to them. There's no pool, and standard rooms are on the small side, at 290 square feet. The nearby, comparably priced Westin Copley Place doesn't have the Back Bay hotel's historic charms, but it is better suited to families: There's a pool and, at 392 square feet, standard rooms are much larger.
The hotel's eating and drinking options are both enjoyable and convenient. There's a nice restaurant, the Stanhope Grille, and a bar that's popular with locals, Cuffs. Both have lovely outdoor patios. There's also 24-hour room service and a morning coffee bar.
Very clean but not spotless
Though the hotel hasn't been fully renovated since it opened in 2004, it feels fresh and new overall. Guest rooms and common areas are thoroughly cleaned and well maintained. The only cleanliness issues I spotted were extremely minor: some streaks on the and some debris trapped in the stair grooves in the lobby. Admittedly, I was looking pretty hard for them.
This cozy, 225-room hotel in a beautiful old building -- the former police headquarters -- is full of nice touches, from hot towels at check-in to free Wi-Fi in rooms. Sure, rooms aren't huge and the tiny fitness center disappoints, but beds are luxurious, the bar is lively, and service is lovely. Quite nice for the price.