For years, I drove by the building in Kenmore Square with the red awning. I had no clue what it was and never really paid attention, despite the fact that it was street level at the Kenmore Square MBTA stop and a few hundred yards from Fenway Park. Welcome to the Hotel Commonwealth, possibly the best hotel in Boston that you’ve never heard of.
If you’re a Yankees fan…stay somewhere else. Hotel Commonwealth is located in the middle of Kenmore Square and a baseball’s throw from the home of the 2016 MLB Champions, the Boston Red Sox. It’s a very popular hotel for BU students and parents, with the school located nearby. If you’re coming in from Logan Airport, you’ll have about a six mile drive or can take the T, switching from the Blue Line to the Green Line at Government Center. Downtown Boston is only a few subway stops away but, if the weather is nice, I’d recommend the 1-2 mile walk down Commonwealth Ave.
Smooth. You’ll arrive at the hotel and have doormen waiting for you. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get to meet Terry the Bear, the hotel mascot. We were at the hotel for a family-friendly event*, so they were waiting with bags of swag for the kids. While that’s not standard, they do go out of their way for families. Nice touch: About five minutes after we checked into our room, they called up to make sure that everything was okay.
A few years ago, the rooms were one of the weaknesses of the hotel. They were looking old and tired, badly in need of a renovation.
A 2015 remodeling changed that, though, and the rooms are now far superior to the standard Boston room. They have always been spacious, but the renovation modernized them and a new color scheme made them attractive. If you don’t want to pay up for pricey local restaurants, there is a mini-fridge in your room. There are still a few issues: The lighting is poor and the free internet is very, very weak. Overall, though, it is a pleasant place to spend time.
Overall amenities range from good to excellent, depending on what your needs are. The fitness center is on the smaller side and could use a little work, but there’s enough equipment to go around. Business travelers will find plenty to their liking, however. It has all the standard services, including a 24-hour business center, concierge and valet parking. The hotel throws in a few extras: Staying for a while? Laundry service and complimentary shoe shines are available. Don’t feel like taking the T? They offer a free car service during rush hour on weekday mornings.
Outstanding. I felt as if the employees couldn’t do enough for me and they genuinely seemed to enjoy interacting with guests. Everyone throughout the hotel had a smile on their face at all times. What particularly impressed me is how the staff transitioned seamlessly from working with a family to helping a business customer. When people were waiting in line, the concierge or another staff member stepped in to help. I would happily compare the service here with some of the nicest hotels that I’ve stayed at.
Very high, but it depends on the time of year. During the spring and fall, you are going to be paying $350+ per night. Summer is also high. Winter is a bargain, though, with prices occasionally dipping below $200. If you’re looking for a great experience for your dollar, Hotel Commonwealth is hard to beat.
Cover photo from Hotel Commonwealth website
*Hotel Commonwealth gets bonus points for its community involvement. Every February, they hold their “Bedtime Stories” event. It’s targeted to families and includes a storyteller, magician and Terry the Bear, not to mention hot chocolate and goodies. In the morning, the kids help the chef cook a pancake breakfast. You know you’re at a luxury property when they serve freshly squeezed orange juice at a kids’ event. The hotel room cost us a bit over $200 and there was a $20 recommended donation, with all event proceeds going to ReadBoston, a non-profit that focuses on children’s literacy. If you have kids, this is a fantastic event for a good cause.