Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A 235-room outpost of the trendy hotel chain offers a sleek, modern alternative to traditional Boston.
"Boston Uncommon" reads the promotional signage wrapping its way around the base of the shiny glass tower that is the W Boston. It's a fitting slogan for the hotel since its location is just a few blocks from the Boston Common park and it strikes a significantly different note than most of the city's other hotels. In a historic town filled with both charming old hotels and charmless chains, the W is thoroughly modern and trendy. (It's not the only hotel that boasts these qualities, though; both the Mandarin Oriental and the Ames Hotel -- part of the same hotel group as Miami party hotels the Delano and Shore Club -- opened around the same time as the W.) Of course, while the W Boston feels like no other hotel in Boston, it feels a lot like many other W properties.
First and foremost, there's the stylish lobby, quiet by day, happening bar by night -- a hallmark of the W brand. Of course, this being Boston, the young, attractive crowd sips their pineapple martinis around a crackling fire that warms the cool, modern space with its sleek booths, oversize suede chairs, metal curtains, and trickling water panels. There are signature W touches throughout. Doormats and elevator rugs are changed throughout the day to read "Good Morning," "Good Afternoon," or "Good Evening." Rooms have sleek design, well-stocked minibars, and Bliss toiletries. And, of course, there's a full Bliss spa, a regular W partner.
All the expected W details mix with surprises, like artwork in rooms subtly emblazoned with Thoreau quotes and whimsical photo murals in the hallways. Fans of the W will find plenty to like at the Boston property. It's a more stylish, but not necessarily more expensive, alternative to traditional chains in nearby Back Bay like the Westin and the Hilton, although some may find the W's bar-lobby scene a bit much. An equally happening spot with a more mature crowd can be found at the Liberty Hotel, a stunning boutique set in an old jail that mixes new design with a bit of Boston history.
Good, but falls short of full luxury
Service at the W is both hip and helpful, but it's not the full-on luxury offered by more expensive hotels like the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental. The W's service philosophy is "whatever/whenever" and the hotel strives to be accommodating but casual; it's also a bit cutesy. Hotel staffers are called "talent," and doormen are called "door ambassadors." As a whole, the "talent" tends younger and more attractive than your average hotel staff. Door ambassadors, who are friendly and ever-present, forgo stiff uniforms in favor of pinstripe pants and gray V-neck sweaters. For in-room help, guests press a "whatever/whenever" button on the phone and are instantly connected to a friendly voice asking "what's your wish?" For the most part, my wishes were dealt with quite well, but when I inquired about using the pool at a sister property I was told they'd have to check and call me back, which they never did.
Centrally located in the up-and-coming Theater District
The W sits on the busy corner of Stuart and Tremont streets in the Theater District, a central, up-and-coming area in downtown Boston, just south of the Back Bay area. The portion of Tremont Street just outside the hotel is lined with old, restored theaters like the Wilbur, which regularly hosts comics and indie rockers, and the Shubert Theatre, home to local community arts organizations. The less bohemian Stuart Street features a number of chain restaurants, from Dunkin' Donuts to Rock Bottom Brewery. Though the area isn't as pretty, and as touristy, as say Beacon Hill, there's plenty to eat, drink, and do, and more on the way as it's further developed. It's also central for exploring other parts of the city. Boston's Chinatown is just a couple blocks to the east, while the tony Back Bay area, a haven for shopping, is a few blocks west.
Sleek and thoroughly modern, with huge windows and up-to-the-minute electronics
With huge windows along the entire back wall, sleekly modern furnishings, and a bright color scheme, rooms at the W stand apart from the subdued, often historic, elegance that pervades most of the city's hotels. At 360 square feet, the standard rooms, called "Wonderful Rooms," are a bit bigger than average, and they feel especially airy thanks to the large windows and clean design. Small touches throughout range from cutesy -- a telescope on a stand that reads "wish" -- to cheeky -- a minibar with the requisite intimacy kit, emblazoned with the words "get lucky." Combine that with bathrooms that look into the rooms through a bit of artwork on a translucent canvas, offering a bit of a peep show, and well, this is no hotel room for grandma. Still, there are also useful details, like a charging center with jacks for seemingly every kind of cell phone, and power strips with AV jacks for hooking computers up to the TV, making the room particularly well suited to business travelers.
A beautiful gym and top spa
The hotel has some, dare I say, "w"-onderful amenities. When I visited just after the hotel had opened in late 2009, both the fitness center and the business center were up and running (Bliss spa had not yet opened but did in August 2010). An underground nightclub called Descent opened in October of 2011.The 4th-floor, 24-hour fitness center, or "Sweat" as the W calls it, is bright and modern. It has three TechnoGym treadmills, three ellipticals, two Cardio Wave machines, two bicycles, a handful of weight machines, and a selection of free weights and fitness balls as well as yoga mats and blocks; cardio machines have individual TVs. Water, fruit, headphones, and Bliss "tidy towels" are provided.
Modern and squeaky clean
The W Boston opened in late 2009 in a shimmering glass building. The rooms and public spaces are spotless.
Not geared toward families, but able to accommodate them
Bar and the Breakfast Lounge
There's no full restaurant, but guests can get breakfast, like an omelette or a muffin, in the Breakfast Lounge. The entire lobby transforms into a hotel bar, loosely known as the "W Lounge", come nightfall. Even on a midweek night, young guys in suits and girls in tight jeans and black tanks crowd up to the bar. Cocktails include pineapple mojitos and ginger margaritas. There's also a menu of small plates.
Dogs and cats up to 40 pounds allowed, but it'll cost you
Simple yet snazzy options, and a lot of them
With large, stylish rooms, a happening bar, and a Bliss spa, the sleek, 235-room outpost of the trendy brand offers a striking, modern alternative to Boston's historic hotels and traditional chains. Too bad it lacks a full restaurant and the unique charms of smaller boutique properties.