If location is everything, the Boston Park Plaza has it in spades. Sited in the Back Bay, this historic hotel puts the best of Boston within walking distance. Just steps away are the Boston Public Garden, Boston Common, Newbury Street’s boutiques, the Freedom Trail, and the Theater District. If the weather’s moody or the distance seems too far to walk, the Arlington stop on Boston Metro (a.k.a. the T) is barely a block away.
This 1,060-room hotel opened its doors as the state-of-the-art Statler Hotel in March 1927.
Thanks to a $100 million, lobby-to-roof renovation completed in 2016, this grande dame is chic once again, with contemporary style and amenities that honor its rich history.
Statler Hotel: That was then
And rich that history is, starting with location. E. M. Statler built his then 1,300-room hotel on the beachfront site where British troops landed before the Battle of Lexington. That waterfront disappeared in the mid-1800s, when a landfill project created Boston’s highly desirable Back Bay.
Among Statler’s brilliant ideas: Every room offered a private bath, a radio, a headboard-mounted reading lamp, a daily newspaper, a telephone, stationery and writing utensils, a servidor panel allowing valets to deliver laundry, and the forerunner of the Do Not Disturb sign. Each floor had a concierge-style attendant, and the hotel also offered a lending library.
Adding to the sumptuous feel were gold leaf-accented coffered ceilings, Terrazzo flooring, painted tiles from Seville, and travertine stone columns sourced from volcanic formations below Mt. Vesuvius
Statler didn’t stop there. He envisioned a city within a city. A hospital occupied the 14th floor. A 30-chair (!) barbershop and shoeshine were located in the basement. The original artwork and antiques in the hotel’s Spanish Renaissance-style lobby fulfilled Statler’s desire to have it resemble an art museum.
Adding to the sumptuous feel were gold leaf-accented coffered ceilings, Terrazzo flooring, painted tiles from Seville, and travertine stone columns sourced from volcanic formations below Mt. Vesuvius. Even that paled with the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, inspired by the Palace of Versailles. Think parquet floor, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, an 18th-century museum-quality Flemish tapestry, and period sconces.
For 50 years, the Hotel Statler reigned as New England’s largest independent hotel and the world’s eighth-largest hotel. No surprise that it hosted all but two U.S. Presidents as well as a Who’s Who of international politicos, such as Winston Churchill, and Hollywood stars, including Judy Garland and Katherine Hepburn.
Boston Park Plaza: This is now
That Spanish Renaissance-style lobby now welcomes guests with marble floors, jazzy patterned carpets, and comfy furnishings upholstered in red, gray, and cream. Partial panel curtains help break up the grand space into cozier sections.
My spacious, corner Studio Suite juxtaposed contemporary amenities with a historical view. I looked out over the Park Plaza Castle, a four-story, granite building, with a six-story tower. Boston architect William Gibbons Preston designed the Romanesque Revival armory, which was built between 1891 and 1897 and is now a National Historic Landmark.
My spacious room, decorated in brown, grey, and white, offered a leather sofa and chair and a bed dressed in white linens with an upholstered headboard. The dual bedside table lamps had both USB ports and electrical outlets. A large marble-topped desk, with ergonomic chair, stretched along one wall and also housed a minibar with a Keurig. The windows actually opened, and blackout shades kept out the city lights.
In addition to the usual luxury hotel amenities, I found robes and slippers in the especially large large closet. A white tile-and-marble bathroom completed the suite.
Dining options at the Boston Park Plaza
Let’s start with Strip by Strega, developed by popular Boston restaurateur Nick Varano. It’s billed as a “high-energy concept… [that] fuses together the look and feel of a sophisticated, uber-modern steakhouse with that of a sleek, high-end lounge.”
I’d say that’s pretty accurate. It’s contemporary yet comfortable with design, lighting, and vibe that signals this place doubles as a nightspot. And the food is excellent, with menu options that include fresh seafood.
The hotel’s mezzanine-wrapped lobby doubles as Off The Common, the Plaza’s signature restaurant. Open daily for breakfast (buffet and a la carte), lunch, dinner, and cocktails, it offers both lounge- and restaurant-style seating options. The menu emphasizes fresh and locally inspired cuisine, from soups, salads, and shareables to dinner plates, such as burgers, lobster roll, steak frites, and desserts. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are available. I didn’t dine here, but it was a busy, happening place. On Thursday evenings, the hotel offers Live in the Library. Guests can enjoy live music while enjoying cocktails and dinner fireside.
I took advantage of the room-service menu, and my order arrived when promised, professionally served, nicely plated, and still hot.
Other dining options in the Boston Park Plaza include M.J. O’Connors, an Irish pub, and a Starbucks.
The 20,000-square-foot Lynx Fitness Club, in the hotel’s basement, offers workout rooms and classes as well as aerobic- and strength-training equipment. Personal training is available. Also here is New England’s only Top Swing Suite. Book it for year-round practice and PGA-certified instruction.
I took advantage of the mezzanine-level FedEx Business Center to ship home a package and for printing out boarding passes.
The hotel also prides itself on being one of Boston’s best dog-friendly hotels. It backs that up with no restrictions on breeds or sizes and offering pet-sitting and dog-walking services through the concierge. Up to two dogs (and dogs only, sorry kitties) are allowed per room for a $75 cleaning fee/stay.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- A meticulously renovated and updated historic hotel in a prime Boston location
- An excellent fitness club
- Golfers will want to book practice and/or instruction from a PGA pro in the Top Swing Suite
- A choice of in-house dining options, including room service
- All dogs are welcome
- While the hotel is ADA compliant, Boston is an old city with uneven sidewalks and not all Metro (T) stops have elevators or escalators.
Disclosure: The author’s stay was hosted by the Boston Park Plaza.
IF YOU GO
Boston Park Plaza, 50 Park Plaza at Arlington St.
*All photo credits (except room view of the armory): Boston Park Plaza
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