For a reasonable price, this 26-story behemoth packs in a lot of quality and convenience: large rooms, a pool and fitness center, and a bustling Cambridge location amid MIT buildings and close to public transportation. It's one of the best chain-hotel deals in Boston.
With 26 floors and 431 rooms, the Marriott Cambridge is a large, mostly business-oriented hotel, its lobby a constant stream of purposeful, Blackberry-poking souls drinking lattes from the on-site Starbucks or meeting over cocktails in the bar. Renovated in 2006, the 320-square-foot standard rooms are impressively spacious, outfitted with a sofa, glass coffee table, and a large oak desk that can be pulled out and used as a work or dining table. Service here is a mass-produced commodity, not overly personal or solicitous. The front desk attendant seemed surprised when I asked if someone could deliver my bags to my room -- it seemed this wasn't a request they get very often. But moments after I stepped into my room, with its lovely corner window overlooking MIT's Main Street, a porter knocked on my door and brought in my bags.
The amenities weren't particularly stylish, but they were more than adequate: a 31-inch LG flat-screen TV in my room, a plush down comforter, new Paul Mitchell toiletries. There's also an indoor pool and whirlpool, with plenty of tables and lounge chairs, a large 24-hour fitness center with Precor aerobic equipment and Pacific Fitness weight machines, and a small business center, with two computers. The hotel's sports bar and restaurant, Champions, serves basic American fare just off the lobby, and there are many alternatives nearby, including Cosi, Au Bon Pain, and Legal Sea Foods. There is also a Starbucks on-site. Probably the biggest disappoint of my stay was the room service: My French toast, topped with warm strawberries and bananas, was just plain bad.
Overall, the Marriott Cambridge is one of Boston's best hotels in its price range. If you want less commotion in the lobby and a little more room to spread out (but fewer amenities), the hotel's sister property, the Residence Inn by Marriott Boston Cambridge, is right next door and comparably priced, with larger, suite-style rooms and kitchenettes. If you don't need to be in Cambridge, you might also consider the Colonnade Hotel, in Back Bay, which has the city's only rooftop pool. There's also the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, which has the same on-site features as the Marriott but a livelier and higher quality restaurant and bar scene.
In the Kendall Square portion of Cambridge, amid MIT buildings, restaurants, and biotech companies
Just across the Charles River from Boston proper, Cambridge seems at once part of and distinct from the city. Cambridge provides much of the classic and academic imagery for which Boston is known: stately red brick townhouses; the sight of rowers launching from ancient boathouses on the banks of the Charles; the elite atmosphere of Harvard, the nation's oldest university. And yet Cambridge virtually buzzes with energy; biotech companies, countless startups, and the studious whir of college-town activity combine to make it one of the country's most vibrant intellectual centers. Cambridge is also home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and just as Harvard exudes an air of Yankee establishment, MIT proudly embraces its own brand of nerdiness: Where else do you find a street named Galileo Galilei Way?
The Marriott is located amid MIT buildings and other offices in the Kendall Square area, making it a popular spot for business people. The hotel is conveniently adjacent to a food court and a stop on the T (Boston's subway system), but there's not much historic charm in the immediate vicinity. The area is not generally a tourist draw, but most of the city's attractions are easy to reach from here.
Right next to the Kendall/MIT station on the T
10- to 15-minute drive to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox
Five- to 10-minute drive to tourist favorite Faneuil Hall, a historic marketplace with more than 100 shops and cafes
Five- to 10-minute drive to Boston Common and the start of the Freedom Trail
Five- to 10-minute drive to dining and shopping in Harvard Square, and Harvard University
20- to 25-minute drive to Logan International Airport
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