For spring break last month, my girlfriend's son wanted to make his first visit to Boston and take in the city's numerous historical sites. Despite my new job, I was able to join them for the weekend part of the trip. Since this was a short trip and all of our sightseeing would be in the downtown Boston area, we could use public transit and avoid renting a car. That meant finding a hotel in close proximity to an MBTA rail station. We looked at a few options in the Back Bay but nightly rates were sky-high, as is typical for downtown Boston. Since we had to get two rooms - not being married and with her son on the trip, I could not share a room with my girlfriend - and because I would not be using points - saving those for a summer European trip - we were price conscious.
I turned to a long-time favorite property in Boston - the DoubleTree Club Hotel Boston Bayside. I have stayed at this hotel on four of my five trips to the city going back to 2001 and have enjoyed those stays. It is not located in downtown or the Back Bay, but it is a very short walk from the JFK/UMass station on the MBTA Red Line. That station is just four stops from central Boston, so we gladly traded off a few extra minutes on the subway for significantly lower rates. We did use the hotel shuttle a few times which does a loop that includes the aquarium area and the airport.
Check-in online and get to your room fast
We booked standard rooms for $197.10 per night on the HHonors Discount refundable rate. While that is hardly cheap, the higher cost versus a more suburban property was offset by avoiding a rental car. The day before my arrival, I received an email for online check-in. I selected a room across the hall from the room my girlfriend had selected the day before. I arrived at the property the next night following a five-minute walk from the rail station. The lobby was simple but warm which was very welcome due to the April cold snap that had chilled this Southerner! There was a variety of seating just inside to the right and the front desk was situated directly ahead.
Having checked in online, I literally spent less than a minute at the front desk, long enough to get my room key and the famous DoubleTree cookie. As a Hilton HHonors Diamond member, I was hoping to score an upgrade, but I was ok with that not working out since I was across the hall from my girlfriend.
The room: Nice, comfortable but not flashy
I had selected Room 411 which is on the top floor of the hotel Having stayed at this property on numerous occasions, I was not strongly impressed positively or negatively with the room, because I knew what to expect. The rooms at this property are nice and comfortable but not really flashy.
My room had a king size DoubleTree bed which is generally very comfortable - the second most comfortable hotel bed I have ever slept in was at the DoubleTree in San Jose, CA - but those in this property are fairly average. I slept fine but did not "luxuriate" upon waking up in the morning. I was not crazy about the four mini-pillows. Just give me two (or more!) full-size pillows. However, I definitely give the bed a thumbs-up.
The room was furnished with a nice, large desk which I like. I tend to leave all my stuff on the desk as a centralized "storage" spot so I don't misplace anything. I also pull my laptop out soon after arriving in a hotel and I sit down at the desk to get online. My in-room entertainment is my computer or iPad - I rarely turn on a hotel TV outside of football season - so lack of desk space can ruin an overall good room. That's not a problem at the DoubleTree Club Boston Bayside. I would have liked a better chair than the "conference room" model in the room. However, my desk time was limited so this was not a major issue.
The bathroom continued the theme of nicer than average but nothing extraordinary, though I did like the light-surround on the mirror. There was plenty of space, lots of towels and the standard toiletries. Unlike some blogs that lose their collective minds over the brand or quality of hotel shampoo or body wash, I don't really care. It all gets me clean and that's about the only concern I have. Anything else is gravy.
This room had a tub/shower combo and, frankly, the shower looked less than inviting. But it worked and was not disgusting, so I give it another thumbs-up.
Food options - the biggest disappointment
One of the benefits of Hilton HHonors Diamond status at a DoubleTree is "a complimentary continental breakfast for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of your stay." Upon check-in I was provided with two vouchers for the breakfast buffet. I did not have time to use one on Saturday morning, so. since they were not dated, I saved them for my girlfriend and I to get breakfast on Sunday. The hotel also offers a coffee bar serving baked goods and Starbucks coffee just off the lobby. I grabbed a quick bagel (I did not think to get a photo) and coffee. The quality was on par with Starbucks and as was the high price. Service was extremely slow despite there being only one other person in line ahead of me and two gentlemen working behind the counter.
A quick comment on the lack of complimentary coffee. I was disappointed that the only coffee was that from the buffet or the coffee shop. Coffee is not a required part of a hotel stay, but it is offered at so many properties these days, I miss it when it is not available.
Sunday morning, we took advantage of the breakfast buffet. There was no attendant in the dining area, so we just sat down and helped ourselves. The eggs were apparently powdered and nearly inedible and the sausage links were excessively greasy. The baked goods were average,s so I had a couple of mini blueberry muffins. Apples, a variety of breads, and cereals were also available. Service was virtually non-existent. When we finished, I had to track down someone so I could give him our vouchers. Frankly, the quality was subpar to the free breakfast buffets I have had at most Hampton Inns. I can shrug it off since I did not have to pay extra, but I would strongly advise not wasting money on their overpriced and low quality offering.
Since this was a paid stay, I earned quite a few rewards points and not just from Hilton HHonors!
My Hilton HHonors balance did quite well:
- Base points: 3,942 (2 nights at $197.10 at 10 points per dollar)
- 50% bonus on base points: 1,971
- Diamond VIP Bonus - 50% on base points: 1,971
- Diamond My Way Bonus: 1,000
I earned a total of 8,884 Hilton HHonors points and that was before the points from the winter double points promotion post.
In addition to Hilton HHonors, Citi offered 5x Citi ThankYou points for stays at Hilton family properties when paying via the Citi ThankYou Premier Card. This promotion came via email and runs through May 31. These bonus points are on top of the 3x ThankYou points the card normally offers for travel charges.
- Standard Citi ThankYou Points: 1,354 ($451.16 spend at 3 points per dollar)
- Bonus Citi ThankYou Points: 2,256 ($451.16 spend at 5 points per dollar)
That's a total of 3,610 Cit ThankYou points in addition to my Hilton HHonors points. Not bad for a two-night stay!
Wrapping it up: A nice, comfortable, mid-range property
Overall, I was very satisfied with my fourth stay at the DoubleTree Club Hotel Boston Bayside. The location was more than suitable for us, check-in was a breeze, the staff was very friendly, and the rooms were comfortable. The biggest negative was the food - both the breakfast buffet and the coffee shop - but, generally, I am ok with grabbing a quick bagel or breakfast sandwich off-property. If there had to be one negative, I would prefer it be a poor food experience for which I did not have to pay extra. Another good stay and I will definitely consider another visit the next time my travels take me to Boston!