Taj Boston Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Subpar restaurant
  • Wi-Fi daily fee
  • Valet parking costs a steep daily fee
  • No pool
  • No spa

Bottom Line

Bought from the Ritz-Carlton in 2007, the Taj Boston holds on to the Ritz' elegant look, but also offers some superb perks, like chenille bathrobes and free rides in the house Jaguar. Given its free business center, well-equipped gym, and ideal location bordering the Public Garden and the swank boutiques along Newbury Street, it's an excellent luxury pick.

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Back Bay, Boston

Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

The 273-room Taj Boston keeps most of the beloved old Ritz just the way it was, from afternoon tea in the upstairs lounge to the elegant European-style guest rooms.

The landmark building
The landmark building

There's a time to completely revamp a hotel and a time to stick with what works. Fortunately, the Indian hotel company Taj, which acquired this beloved old Ritz-Carlton back in 2007, knew better than to mess with it. (The company has some experience with legendary old hotels, having also assumed ownership of the Pierre in New York City and Campton Place in San Francisco.) Little has changed about the 273-room Back Bay hotel, a fixture in Boston since 1927 and former host to such luminaries as J.F.K., Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, and Joan Crawford (who allegedly demanded that her room always be stocked with peppermint Life Savers). The last major renovation was back in 2002 (while it was still the Ritz), and Taj management has done little more than upgrade the dainty pastel-hued rooms with 32-inch Samsung flat-screen TVs and add high-top seating areas to the bar.

The appeal of the hotel is obvious. The landmark Beaux-Arts building occupies one of the prime spots in Back Bay, bordering the Public Garden on one side and Newbury Street on the other. Guests enjoy views of Newbury Street from the lounge during the afternoon tea service (another tradition from the Ritz days); at the bar, you can linger over hot toddies next to floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Public Garden. Here and there, Taj has made some subtle attempts to insert a little Indian culture into the mix -- a Bollywood night in the restaurant; traditional Indian dishes on the food menus; a short film of India's famous palaces on the hotel channel. But these feel more like a warm welcome into Indian culture than disjointed add-ons, effectively introducing a fresh element to the hotel's European classicism.

Overall, you'll be hard pressed to find another hotel in this price range that can match the Taj's level of service -- including a free ride in a Jaguar around the city -- and picturesque location. The Lenox, the Eliot Hotel, the Fairmont Copley, and the Back Bay Hotel don't come close. You'd have to book at the much pricier Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton Boston Common to find an equivalent combination of services and location.

 Service

All the frills -- like twice-daily housekeeping -- but food service falls short

The front desk
The front desk

Outside the restaurant, the service is superb -- from the bellman who showed me around my room to the complimentary shoeshine. A "fireplace butler" tends to the working fireplaces available in some suites (you can choose from a menu of firewood), a "bath butler" can set up your tub for a customized soak (for a fee), all rooms have pillow menus with six options, and the green Jaguar house car will shuttle guests around Back Bay or downtown. The staffers don't always address you by last name, as they often do at the Mandarin Oriental and Fairmont Copley Plaza, but this level of attention is a rare thing at this price range. And the free luxury perks at the Taj are only rivaled by hotels that often cost a lot more -- the Mandarin Oriental, the Intercontinental, and the Four Seasons among them.

  • House car, a green Jaguar, shuttles guests around downtown and Back Bay for free.
  • Staff concierge, available early morning to late night
  • Evening turndown service
  • Free newspaper delivery to your room (Monday through Friday, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal; Saturday and Sunday, the New York Times)
  • Excellent, free overnight shoeshine
  • Valet parking is pricey
  • 24-hour room service

 Location

Centrally located in Back Bay, bordering the Public Garden and the shops and cafes of Newbury Street

The Taj is located 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. As the home of the Hynes Convention Center, Back Bay is a popular area for business travelers, but it also has some of the city's best shopping, from the quaint boutiques on Newbury Street to the massive Prudential Center mall. The area is filled with midrange and upscale restaurants, many of them chains, but the South End, a more lively bohemian area with trendy bars and eateries, is a quick, 10-minute walk away.

The Taj enjoys one of the most scenic locations in Back Bay, overlooking the Public Garden on one side and Newbury Street on the other. The Boston Common lies just one block past the Public Garden.

  • Bordering the Public Garden
  • One long block through the Public Garden from the Boston Common; 10-minute walk to the start of the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path that hits 16 different historic landmarks
  • Two blocks from the Arlington Street stop on the Green Line of the T (Boston's subway system)
  • About 15 minutes via public transportation to Faneuil Hall, a historic tourist marketplace with over 150 shops and cafes
  • About a 10-minute drive (or 15 to 20 minutes via public transportation) to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox
  • About 25 to 30 minutes via public transportation to Harvard Square in Cambridge
  • A 20- to 30-minute drive to Logan International Airport

 Rooms

Elegant rooms with pastel accents and luxurious beds

The Deluxe room
The Deluxe room

The hotel's old-world European style extends into the guest rooms, all of which are large -- about 325 to 410 square feet, considerably larger than the standard rooms at the Fairmont Copley Plaza -- and beautifully decorated.

  • Luxurious, super-soft beds (among the best beds in Boston): Sealy Posturepedic pillow-top mattress; Frette linens; down featherbed and duvet; four goose-down pillows
  • Pillow menu with six different pillow choices: anti-snoring; down alternative; soft; medium; firm; extra firm
  • 32-inch Samsung flat-screen TV; 35 channels, including HBO; Pay-per-view and Nintendo Gamecube (chargeed per hour) also available
  • No iPod hookup -- just an old Panasonic radio/CD player
  • Beautiful (but small) marble bath with a shower/tub combo; bath menu offers different types of drawn baths ($30 to $85)
  • High-quality Molton Brown toiletries
  • Floor-length premium Ploh spa chenille robe.
  • Wi-fi daily fee
  • Standard rooms either face the interior or offer views of the Public Garden, Commonwealth Avenue, or Newbury Street.
  • Suites start at 540 square feet and offer additional features like parlors, working fireplaces, and separate living rooms.

 Features

No pool or spa, but a sizable (if dark) fitness center

The business cetner
The business cetner

While offering an extensive amount of top-of-the-line equipment (many with individual video screens), the spacious fitness center here can feel a little dark -- with windows that just offer an interior view of the air shaft. But like the business center, it's free.

  • Spacious, 24-hour fitness center overlooking an air shaft; separate cardio and weight room; impressive number of machines, exercise balls, yoga mats; free apples and bottled water
  • Business center; free use of computers and printers; copies and faxes cost extra
  • No pool
  • No spa

 Pets

Perfect proximity to parks, but only small pets are welcome, and there's a $125 per stay fee

  • Flat-per-stay fee for bringing your pet
  • Pets that weigh up to 85 pounds only
  • Concierge can arrange pet grooming, pet sitting, or vet appointments.
  • Pet room-service menu, including fresh scallops

 Family

Fine choice for families -- large rooms; ideal location

  • Just a block from the Boston Common and bordering the Public Garden -- home to the summertime swan-shaped paddle boats and wintertime ice-skating.
  • Guest rooms start at a sizable 325 square feet; enough room for a free crib or an extra rollaway bed (charged per night)
  • Only Deluxe and Premium rooms have two double-size beds.
  • Connecting rooms available
  • Children's room-service menu; entrees like chicken fingers and grilled cheese. Children's menu also available in the cafe

 Food

Subpar food, especially for the price; ample dining elsewhere

The cafe
The cafe

My biggest complaint -- and this is not a small point -- is that the restaurant seemed to have a complete breakdown while I was there. The lasagna I ordered from room service arrived nuked to within an inch of its life, the pasta so dried out that it was hard to cut through on the edges. In the morning at the cafe, I watched as waiters argued with one another while seating guests. My own waiter, who rarely stopped by, brusquely discouraged me from ordering the Indian breakfast dish by saying, "That's going to take a while." If fine dining in the hotel is a high priority for you, try the Eliot Hotel, with its phenomenal James-Beard-Award-winning restaurant Clio, or Hotel Commonwealth, with its popular and much-raved-about Eastern Standard brasserie.

  • Afternoon tea service in the 2nd-floor lounge
  • On-site cafe serves upscale bistro fare, as well as a few Indian specialties.
  • Bar serves a smaller, light menu
  • Champagne Sunday brunch on the rooftop or the beautiful dining room overlooking the park (only one glass of champagne included in price)

 Cleanliness

Twice-daily housekeeping keeps everything spotless.

Though the last major renovation was in 2002, the hotel is very clean and in flawless condition -- no dust or mildew anywhere. The Taj refreshed the hotel upon its purchase in 2007.

 Weddings

It's costly, no doubt, but for a beautiful space overlooking the Public Garden from its rooftop function space, the Taj is a fine choice for small- to medium-size events.

An ideal location for picture taking
An ideal location for picture taking
  • Wedding Size: Between 50 and 260 guests; More than one wedding may take place at the same time, but they are in separate sections of the hotel.
  • Ceremony and Reception Locations: The Roof holds up to 130 guests, the Main Dining Room holds up to 150 guests, and the Grand Ballroom holds up to 260 guests.
  • Wedding Packages: The standard wedding package includes a sparkling-wine toast, passed hors d'oeuvres, a four-course dinner, and a custom-designed wedding cake. In addition, you also get candles, a choice of linens (unlike at other hotels, where they charge extra for this), a dressing room for the wedding party, a private photography room, a private reception area for just the bridal party, and the help of a dedicated wedding manager and catering coordinator. For this, the overall price ranges per person, depending on the entrée choice (this price, unlike elsewhere, includes service charges and taxes).
  • Extra Fees and Restrictions: There is an additional ceremony fee if you choose to have a ceremony at the hotel, but otherwise just about every major expense is accounted for in the price of the wedding package.
  • Freebies: With the standard package, you also get a free suite for the bride and groom on their wedding night and a free half-hour dance lesson at Ballroom Dance New England prior to the event.
  • Food: Prior to the wedding, you get a free, private food and wine tasting for four people (included in the package price) at which you can choose from a fairly extensive menu (though it skews heavily toward French- and Italian-leaning options). Vegan, kosher, and gluten-free menus are available by request; children's menus are available
  • Drinks: With the standard package, you get a five-hour open bar, though the somewhat modest fee alters based on the brands you'd like.
  • Spa Treatments: The hotel does not have a spa on-site; you'll have to book treatments elsewhere.
  • Honeymoon Suite: The hotel provides a free suite for the bride and groom on their wedding night.

 Bottom Line

Bought from the Ritz-Carlton in 2007, the Taj Boston holds on to the Ritz' elegant look, but also offers some superb perks, like chenille bathrobes and free rides in the house Jaguar. Given its free business center, well-equipped gym, and ideal location bordering the Public Garden and the swank boutiques along Newbury Street, it's an excellent luxury pick.

Things You Should Know About Taj Boston

Address

  • 15 Arlington Street, Boston, MA, 02116

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Boston Taj Hotel
  • Taj Hotel Boston

Room Types

  • Children's Suite
  • Commonwealth Suite
  • Deluxe Room City View
  • Deluxe Room Interior View
  • Deluxe Room Park View
  • Executive Suite
  • Junior Suite
  • Luxury Park View Suite
  • Park View Suite
  • Premier Room
  • Presidential Suite
  • Taj Club Deluxe Room
  • Taj Club Junior Suite
  • Taj Club Premier Room

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Nearby Hotels to Consider

Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers
Four Seasons Boston
Revere Hotel Boston Common
Loews Boston Back Bay

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 273
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: Back Bay, Boston
Address: 15 Arlington Street, Boston, MA, 02116
(See Map)
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