A huge, 1,148-room hotel that opens into a mall and connects to a convention center, the Marriott appears impersonal and uninviting. Though rooms were renovated in 2011, service is inconsistent, food is mediocre, and elevators are painfully slow. If you need to stay within the convention-center-hotel complex, you may want to consider the Westin or Sheraton; if not, get more from your money elsewhere.
Big, impersonal, and crowded; like sleeping at a mall
To say the Marriott Copley Place is attached to a mall is an understatement. There's no clear division between the massive, 1,101-room hotel and the massive Copley Place mall. A series of escalators crisscross up from the small lobby to a floor with a UPS store, a Starbucks, a restaurant and sports bar called Champions with mediocre food and dozens of flat-screens for watching the big game(s), and an open lounge area called the Connexion Lounge. A huge Tiffany's on the next floor up looms above it all. While Champions is part of the Marriott, and the UPS store serves as the hotel business center, they feel as much a part of the mall as the hotel. And, to get around, it's often easier to walk up and through the mall, rather than out the front entrance on the street. I agree with one visitor who said that staying at the hotel "feels like you're sleeping in the mall."
You don't get that same feeling staying at the similarly priced Westin and Sheraton, even though they too are part of a huge, interconnected complex that links the three hotels to the Hynes Convention Center, the Copley Place mall, and the Prudential Center. The Westin and Sheraton manage to feel like havens from the complex, not part of it.
That "sleeping-in-the-mall" feeling isn't the only reason the Marriott is inferior to both the Westin and the Sheraton. At 225 square feet, guest rooms are small; but the decor has greatly improved since renovations in 2010 and 2011. Rooms are bright add airy, if generic. But the heavy blue and red curtains and dated furniture of yesteryear are gone, and the rooms are much more comfortable, relaxing, and clean as a result.
Unfortunately, the service can feel impersonal and sometimes be slow, no doubt due to the mass of people the staff needs to serve. Check-in is the friendly standard you expect at a Marriott, but it took over half an hour to get extra towels one morning and there was almost always a wait to talk to the concierge. Even the infrastructure has a hard time keeping up with the crowds. A 900-delegate actuary convention was in-house during my stay and, despite no fewer than 10 elevators, getting to my room was akin to riding a packed subway at rush hour that stops every four blocks. Thankfully, elevators were serviced in 2010, and traveling from floor to floor is no longer such an ordeal.
The Marriott deserves credit in at least one department. All three properties have pools and fitness centers. But after a one-million-dollar renovation in 2009, the Marriott's, with new machines and plenty of windows, are superior to the Westin's. On the other hand, the Sheraton's huge indoor pool and fitness center have them both beat.
In Boston's tony Back Bay and connected to the Hynes Convention Center
The Marriott is part of a massive complex that includes the Hynes Convention Center; the Prudential Center; Copley Place, an upscale shopping mall; the Sheraton; and the Westin Boston Copley Place. They're all connected via the mall and skybridges, such that you can travel between them without ever stepping foot outside (a good thing during chilly Boston winters). The hotel has a street entrance on busy Huntington Avenue, but it can also be entered directly from the Copley Place mall via an escalator.
The complex sits in the 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, with the convention center, and also has some of the city's best shopping, from quaint Newbury Street boutiques to the massive Prudential Center and Copley Place malls. Major attractions like the Public Garden, Boston Common, and the start of the Freedom Trail are within a short walk; other tourist hot spots, like the North End and Faneuil Hall, are 15 to 20 minutes away via public transportation. The area is filled with midrange and upscale restaurants, some of them chains; the South End, a more lively bohemian-flavored area with trendy bars and eateries, is a quick 10- to 15-minute walk away.
Logan International Airport is 20 to 30 minutes away, depending on traffic.
The nearest stop on the T (Boston's subway system) is Back Bay Station on the Orange Line, less than two blocks away. Commuter trains also stop at Back Bay Station. Copley Station and the Green Line is just another block away.
Faneuil Hall, a historic tourist marketplace with more than 150 shops and cafes, is 15 to 20 minutes away via public transportation.
Boston Common and the start of the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path that leads to 16 historic landmarks, is about a mile away, a 15- to 20-minute walk.
Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, is 1.7 miles away, about a seven-minute drive.
Harvard Square is across the Charles River, about 25 to 30 minutes via public transportation.
Newbury Street, a lovely brownstone-lined corridor with great shopping and dining, is about six blocks away.
Copley Square, the endpoint of the Boston marathon and a beautiful public square with an interesting mix of architecture, is about two blocks away.
The Hynes Convention center is a five- to 10-minute walk through the Copley Place mall.
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