My 6 PM arrival into Boston aboard Norwegian Air Premium Class necessitated an overnight in the city. Initially, I planned to stay at a Hilton or Starwood property to take advantage of their bonus points promotions. However, rates were quite high reasonably downtown and near the airport – as in $250+ high. Though I saved good money flying Norwegian, that’s still too rich for my taste. Broadening my search to non-chains yielded a $189 AAA rate at the historic Copley Square Hotel in the Back Bay. While still more than I preferred to spend, I’m a sucker for boutique hotels. Plus, its location adjacent to the Logan Express stop and two T lines made it a convenient option.
Copley Square Hotel, Boston
- Date of stay: November 6, 2016
- 47 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA
- Features: fitness center, business center, free morning coffee/tea, free WiFi, fitness center, restaurant (breakfast and room service only), complimentary wine hour (5-6 pm daily), on-site parking ($49/day)
- Website: http://www.copleysquarehotel.com/
Location: in Boston’s Back Bay, about a mile and a half walking distance from downtown. If arriving by car from Logan, your best bet is to approach via the Mass Pike. Heading westbound, first overshoot the Back Bay, and then U-turn back eastbound at Exit 18. Take the exit for Stuart Street/Copley Square, Exit 22. Merge onto Stuart, then immediately turn left at Dartmouth Street. Proceed one block, then turn left at Huntington Avenue (State Highway 9). The hotel is on the right. Heading eastbound, follow the same instructions above beginning at Exit 22.
From Logan Airport, there are three options if you prefer mass transit. The most direct option is Massport’s Logan Express bus, which drops you one block away at Copley Square. However, it’s also the most expensive, at $7.50 each way. The cheapest option, at $2.75, is the “T” subway, though it comes with a catch. It takes two connections to reach the hotel. First, take the “Massport Shuttle” to Aiport Station. Then, take the Blue Line towards Bowdoin. Finally, transfer to the Orange Line at State and continue to Back Bay Station. Or, get off the Orange Line at Government Center, and take the Green Line to Copley Station. Travel time via bus is 20-30 minutes. By train, expect 25-45 minutes, depending on how you time your connections.
UPDATE: thanks to commenters Stan and Bayuze below for suggesting a free option from Logan to the hotel, via the Silver Line, Red Line, and Green Line.
Copley Square Hotel – Check-in and Common Areas
I arrived at the hotel around 7:30 PM on a Sunday evening, which isn’t exactly a busy time. I was first warmly greeted by the valet/doorman, then again by the front desk clerk. Check-in proceeded quickly, and the clerk handed me the keys to my 4th floor room in a matter of seconds.
Boutique hotels in historic buildings tend to take one of two paths when it comes to design. Some focus on the historic character of the building and/or area, going with a “retro” design. A good example is the Kimpton Argonaut in San Francisco. Others, though, prefer to go compare-and-contrast, overlaying modern design on old bones. The occasionally garish Joule Hotel in Dallas fits that bill. The Copley Square Hotel falls on the latter end of the spectrum. On the one hand, the exterior quickly reminds you of the hotel’s history as you walk up.
Step inside, though, and a more modern vibe comes into focus in the lobby. Also notice the complimentary bottled water and fruit basket in front of the restaurant, Xhale.
The lobby also features a cozy seating area. The hotel provides complimentary tea and coffee each morning to the left of the sitting area. However, a clerk hovered over that area as I took my coffee. Thus, I felt uncomfortable taking any more pictures.
Meanwhile, a unique feature lies behind the front desk – an old-fashioned elevator with a classic floor indicator. Though it didn’t appear operational, I thought it was a cool way to pay homage to the hotel’s long history.
The juxtaposition of old and new continues upstairs on the guest floors. From the ground floor, an original marble staircase takes you up one floor.
On the rest of the floors, while the original molded banisters remain, modern carpeting replaces the marble.
The corridors also feature modern finishes and fixtures.
On the other hand, photographs chronicling the hotel’s history adorn the walls.
I didn’t order room service, or eat breakfast at Xhale. It appears Xhale used to be a full-service restaurant, but has downsized to breakfast only. Based on the largely negative online reviews, I’d say buyer beware. Unfortunately, I arrived too late for wine hour, which I really wanted to try. It’s little perks like that which provide independent boutiques value over chains, even without the points and miles, in my opinion.
Copley Square Hotel – Rooms
I booked a “Boutique Queen”, and as is common with historic hotels, the rooms are on the small side. In fact, the bed takes up a good part of the room. I liked the red and white bedding, and the ottoman/bench added a touch of elegance. The bed itself was comfy, not too firm or squishy.
The left side of the bed features two plugs and a USB port. I only wish this were duplicated on the other side of the bed.
In one corner, you’ll find a small desk, thankfully with even more plugs. This made it convenient to keep my camera battery plugged in here overnight, while keeping my phone within reach of the bed.
In the other corner sits the TV. Or I should say, hangs.
This is a significant design flaw in my opinion. The TV sits at a rather severe angle, tilted away from the bed. This makes it somewhat difficult to watch comfortably while lying down. Meanwhile, perhaps surprising for a small room, the closet provides ample space for storing your stuff. Also included are an iron and ironing board, if you need to spiff up before dinner or a business meeting.
Moving on to the bathroom, it too is rather – cozy. The shower provides nice pressure and temperature, but space is a bit constrained. Also, the only option provided is a fixed shower head up top. I don’t care about that, but keep that in mind if it’s important to you. In addition, these rooms are shower only – so if you’re the bathtub type, pick a different room. Note that the shower stall includes a fully sealed glass door, so water on the floor isn’t a problem.
C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries supplies the toiletries. Staking its claim as the oldest apothecary in the country, the products are high quality. A 3.4 ounce bottle of shampoo retails for $9 at the online store. Too rich for me, but the stuff is pretty good.
Oddly, however, the company’s headquarters sit in New York, not Boston. I think the hotel missed an opportunity here to partner with a local company. For example, during my stay at Northern California’s Requa Inn, the hotel partnered with Sister Sky, a Pacific Northwest brand. Ultimately, though, quality is what counts, so kudos to the Copley Square Hotel for delivering there.
Copley Square Hotel – Location
As the name implies, the Copley Square Hotel is located adjacent to…Copley Square, across from the Boston Public Library in Back Bay. I’m no Boston expert, but this seems like a lively area in its own right. Boylston Street, one block away, features an abundance of shops and restaurants. Boston Common is a 10-15 minute walk, with Faneuil Hall and the Boston Public Market another 10-15 minutes farther. Or, hop on the Green Line at Copley Station, and head downtown in about 10 minutes. Thanks to pleasant weather on Monday, the location worked out perfectly for a nice walk to the Boston Public Garden and Boston Common.
As for nearby eats, I lucked out with a Luke’s Lobster literally across the street, when headed north on Exeter Street. Yes, I’m sure I could do better, but it was Sunday night, and I didn’t want to travel far. A lobstah roll and chowdah, anyone?
Otherwise, I didn’t have a chance to thoroughly explore the neighborhood, but the offerings seemed decidedly hipster. Not really my thing, but given the enormous quantity of restaurants along Boylston Street and the couple of streets north, I’m sure there’s something to satisfy every palette.
Copley Square Hotel – Overall Thoughts
The hotel overall strikes a nice balance between modernity and celebrating its historic roots. A much better job, if you ask me, than the Hilton London Hyde Park where I stayed the night before. Location is a plus, with Back Bay reasonably close to the city’s important sights, but benefiting from a quieter location. The ability to take a brisk walk to the Freedom Trail is great, especially since I actively look for ways to force myself out of the room.
So what about negatives? The lack of a full-service restaurant is an issue, and some may not appreciate the small rooms. Perhaps my overall concern is that the hotel is rated 4 diamonds by AAA, with pricing to match. But I have a hard time describing the overall level of luxury as “4-star”. I’d have felt a lot better if I’d paid closer to $150 than $200 for the room. But if you’re looking for an alternative to the big chains, the Copley Square Hotel isn’t a bad choice by any means.
Note: this post is part of a multi-part trip report series covering my short trip to Europe in November, 2016. Click here for the introductory post and trip report index.