The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • On beautiful Copley Square; the heart of Back Bay
  • Rooms feature flat-screen TVs and elegant decor
  • Marble baths; Le Labo toiletries
  • OAK Long Bar + Kitchen is popular drinking and dining destination
  • 24-hour fitness center with up-to-date machines
  • About a five-minute walk to the Boston Common

Cons

  • Moderate and Fairmont rooms are tiny (210 to 260 square feet)
  • Fee for Wi-Fi
  • Pricey business center services
  • Pricey valet parking
  • No spa or pool

Bottom Line

Dating back to 1912, this iconic 383-room Fairmont hotel in tony Back Bay has the most opulent lobby in the city, a classic oak-paneled bar and restaurant, and top-tier service. But most of its guest rooms are much smaller than standard rooms at most other luxury hotels in Boston (almost half the size), and extras are pricey -- including Wi-Fi and valet parking.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

With a prime location on Copley Square, this historic hotel offers the most opulent lobby in the city, a handsome restaurant and bar, and elegantly decorated, though small, guest rooms.

The Oak Bar
The Oak Bar

Just as palatial as it was when it first opened in 1912, the storied 383-room Fairmont Copley Plaza remains as iconic to Boston as the Plaza is to New York City -- and no less grand, as they share the same architect. The lobby alone is 5,000 square feet, and has 21-foot-high gilded coffered ceilings. "Boston’s Grand Dame" has welcomed just about every U.S. president since Taft, celebrities from Frank Sinatra to Tom Cruise, and more than a few of the world's most powerful moguls.

These days the Fairmont Copley Plaza draws a wide range of guests, from conventioneers to college parents to Freedom Trail tourists. The location, right on Copley Sqaure in the heart of Back Bay, is as good as any in the city. And the palatial lobby and the romantic OAK Long Bar + Kitchen restaurant have more extravagant impact than anything you'll find at Boston's other top luxury hotels -- the Ritz, the Four Seasons, and the Mandarin Oriental among them. And yet room rates here are reasonable, compared to those hotels, largely because the standard guest rooms are about half the size. In honor of its centennial in 2012, all rooms, the lobby and the restaurant were renovated.

 Service

Solid, but not as extensive as at other luxury hotels

Capped doormen rush to open doors and deliver luggage up to rooms, and staff warmly addresses you by your last name. But don't expect too many automatic freebies here. Turndown service and free newspapers and shoeshines are available only upon request.

  • 24-hour room service, with a delivery charge and 18-percent gratuity
  • Evening turndown service upon request
  • Concierge desk open most of the day

 Location

Right on Copley Square, in the heart of upscale Back Bay

The Fairmont is located at Copley Square, a historic and picturesque town square in the heart of the tony neighborhood of Back Bay. The 60-story, I.M.-Pei-designed John Hancock Tower, Trinity Church (dating back to the 19th century), and the stately Boston Public Library all add to Copley Square's architectural splendor, and make it a lovely place to meet a friend, play boccie ball on the lawn, or have a picnic lunch (all of which both tourists and locals do regularly). The Hynes Convention Center is a short walk from the hotel, and so is much of the city's best shopping, along quaint Newbury Street and at the Prudential Center mall.

  • One block from nearest stop on the T (Boston's subway system)
  • Two blocks from the upscale boutiques of Newbury Street
  • One block from the Prudential Center mall
  • Less than two miles (about a 10-minute drive) from Faneuil Hall, a historic marketplace with more than 150 shops and cafes
  • About a five-minute walk to the Boston Common; 10-minute walk to the start of the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path that hits 16 different historic landmarks
  • About a five-minute drive from Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox
  • Harvard Square is across the Charles River, about 25 to 30 minutes via the T.
  • 10-minute walk from the South End's restaurant row on Tremont Street
  • A 20- to 30-minute drive to Logan International Airport

 Rooms

Chic and elegant -- but lower-category rooms are tiny

The Fairmont Gold Fairmont room
The Fairmont Gold Fairmont room

Starting at a mere 210 square feet, the Fairmont's Moderate Rooms (the cheapest room type) are much smaller than those at other luxury hotels in Boston -- the standard rooms at the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental, for example, are each around 400 square feet. But rooms here have a classic and refined look, with soft blue and white tones, and silver accents. Suites have a maroon palette. Connecting rooms, rollaways (for a fee), and cribs are all available upon request.

  • Guest rooms start at a cramped, 210 square feet (Moderate Room) and have one queen-size bed.
  • Fairmont rooms, the most common room type, offer a bit more space (260 square feet) and include either a king, queen, or two double-size beds. Deluxe and Signature Rooms, as well as 10 different suites, are also available.
  • Comfortable beds (but not quite as luxurious as those at the Taj Boston): 310-thread-count sheets (60 cotton/40 poly); four down pillows; Sealy Posturpedic pillow-top mattress
  • Small, but elegant, all-marble bathroom: bath/shower tub combo
  • Luxurious Le Labo toiletries
  • Thick terry robes
  • 46-inch flat-screen TV with on-demand movies
  • Bose-wave radios
  • iHome docking station
  • Stocked minibar
  • Daily fee for Wi-Fi access (Free for members of the Farimont President's Club)
  • Jack Pack connectivity kit
  • Keurig coffeemaker
  • Windows that open
  • 24-hour room service available
  • Rooms on the Fairmont Gold floor have coffeemakers and DVD players, access to a separate concierge and check-in counter, and a lounge with a free business center, a DVD and book library, afternoon hors d'ouevres, and a hot breakfast buffet. Wi-Fi is also free on this floor.

 Features

No pool, no spa; just an over-priced business center and an impressive gym

The fitness center
The fitness center

The Fairmont Copley's strength is not in its extra amenities.

  • The business center offers pricey services.
  • Fee for internet
  • 24-hour rooftop fitness center complete with an outdoor deck
  • No pool or spa

 Pets

All pets welcome, for a reasonable per day fee

The Fairmont is one of the few hotels to have it's own "canine ambassador" (a black Labrador named Catie Copley who was formerly trained as a guide dog). You'll find her luxuriating on her doggie bed in the palatial lobby six days a week, next to her personal business cards. Guests can even take her out for a walk; just make arrangements with the concierge.

  • No size or pet type restrictions
  • Fee per day
  • Pets may not be left alone in the room.

 Family

Welcoming to families, but not all that convenient. Small standard rooms can't accomodate a rollaway bed.

The hotel makes attempts to reach out to children with its friendly hotel dog and kids' menus, but be aware that the small standard rooms can only fit one queen-size bed (no room for a rollaway bed). This means that families will need to upgrade to a Fairmont Room with two double-size beds (only enough room to sleep four, no room for a rollaway either).

  • Free cribs
  • Rollaways are available for a nightly fee, but they don't fit in standard rooms
  • Connecting rooms available
  • Room service has a kids' menu (the restaurant doesn't).

 Food

Serving American bistro fare, the OAK Long Kitchen + Bar lives up to its predecessor's -- the Oak Room's == excellent reputation.

  • OAK Long Bar + Kitchen serves American bistro cuisine, and has become a popular dining and drinking spot.
  • 24-hour room service offers an expansive menu, including a special "fitness" menu, a kids' menu, a snack menu, a comfort-food menu, and a build-your-own pasta selection.

 Bottom Line

Dating back to 1912, this iconic 383-room Fairmont hotel in tony Back Bay has the most opulent lobby in the city, a classic oak-paneled bar and restaurant, and top-tier service. But most of its guest rooms are much smaller than standard rooms at most other luxury hotels in Boston (almost half the size), and extras are pricey -- including Wi-Fi and valet parking.

Things You Should Know About The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston

Address

  • 138 St. James Avenue, Boston, MA, 02116

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Boston Fairmont
  • Fairmont Boston
  • Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston

Room Types

  • Boston Public Library Suite
  • Boston Symphony Orchestra & Boston Pops Suites
  • Catie Copley Suite
  • Deluxe Room
  • Fairmont Gold Room
  • Fairmont Room
  • Freedom Trail Suite
  • John F. Kennedy Library and Museum Suite
  • Moderate Room
  • Museum of Fine Arts Suite
  • Museum of Science Suite
  • One Bedroom Corner Suite
  • One Bedroom Suite
  • Presidential Suite
  • Signature Copley Square Room
  • Signature Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 383
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Back Bay, Boston
Address: 138 St. James Avenue, Boston, MA, 02116
(See Map)
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