I have some discomfort dumping too much on The Boxer for a couple reasons. For one thing I only saw the one room I occupied so I don't know how typical it was, particularly since it was a handicapped-accessible room. For another I got a very good price by bidding on Priceline without actually knowing which hotel I would get (although given the location and the number of stars it was pretty much a sure thing The Boxer would be the one if anyone accepted by bid). Had I paid full price or anywhere near it for my room I would have been livid and my rating would have been dramatically lower.
Nonetheless, from my perspective this place failed to meet the 4-star rating it had. Starting with the simple stuff, the location, while not far from Beacon Hill, really isn't on Beacon Hill. It faces the currently inaccessible facade of the JFK Health Services building, a brutalist monument built in the 60s or 70s that is not the finest piece of architecture that any of the multiple government entities in Central Boston has built. You can walk to the back side of Beacon Hill in about 6 or 7 minutes and make it to the side facing Boston Common in about 10-12.
They advertise and promote Valet Parking (to the tune of $44 per night) which is not out of line with the pricing of valet service at other hotels in the center of town. What is out of line is that the service is only available from 7:00 AM until 11:00PM so if you have a late dinner or theater, which in this area is highly likely, you are out of luck. Not only are they unavailable during 1/3 of the day but they are hardly prompt in retrieving your vehicle when they are working. I waited 25 minutes for my car at 9:30 in the morning (no one was ahead of me either) and the desk attendant told me that was actually pretty fast. When the valet finally brought the car he was afraid to parallel park it in the very large available spot at the curb so with other drivers honking for him to get out of the lane he was blocking, I had to insist that he park near the curb. The best he could do was about 4 feet from curbside so getting in on the driver's side was pretty exciting given the amount of traffic whizzing by.
I had called prior to my visit and talked with someone self-described as an assistant manager who told me check in was at 2:00 so I scheduled my arrival to be close to that time. When I got there they told me the room wouldn't be ready until 3:00 (and the desk person who informed me of this and wouldn't check me in was actually very curt to the point of being rude). They offered no suggestion other than to leave my luggage, including shopping bags and clothing on hangers, in a pile in the tiny lobby area and to wait in their bar (and no doubt spend money on drinks to assuage my ruffled feathers).
When I did get to the room it was quite interesting. The design is fairly modern and, to me, very appealing. The room was very small though with no closet at all. The area for clothing storage is an open rack that sits in front of the window (so once you utilize it, you can't reach the mechanism that raises or lowers the blinds) and a single large drawer below it. This makes it very difficult to be tidy in this smallish room.
The bed was wonderful and I will say that I slept quite well although sound was a bit of an issue. I was on the 8th floor right next to the elevator so I heard every conversation of people getting on or off. . .and concluded that they could hear mine. This particular room, though, faces a parking area behind the hotel so what you lose in street view that most rooms have, you gain in night time quiet. I considered this a good trade.
The bathroom, although handicap-equipped was attractive and rather large compared to the room. The shower in these rooms will not keep the water in the shower itself since wheelchairs have to roll in and out. If you get one I would suggest you plan on a major mop up after showering. I was also somewhat disturbed to see many long fine strands of brown hair stuck to the shower walls the first time I used it. Since my hair is thick, short, and grey, I was pretty sure the housekeeping staff had failed to clean up the shower more than cursorily between guests.
I had a fairly late night the first night so you can imagine how displeased I was when the alarm went off at 6:00 in the morning. Since I had not set it, and didn't know how to work it in the dark, I just flailed at it until the alarm stopped. It came on again at 6:10 and again at 6:20 when I gave up and turned on the light to see how to shut the damned thing off. Note to self--check these things to make sure they are not activated. The housekeepers should do this but they don't.
I had to ask for towels more than once and when extras finally arrived, they weren't the bath towels I had requested. I found myself with one more bath mat and two hand towels, none of which had I asked for.
Finch, the bar/restaurant downstairs is modest in both size and offerings but is actually quite good. They have a very decent selection of beverages and a small but interesting menu. The kitchen closes early except on the weekends. . .another fact about which the people at the desk were oblivious. Nonetheless, I had a very nice dinner and enjoyed both cocktails and wine as well as the charming service of bartenders Aaron and Laura. On Wednesdays the wine list suddenly turns into a flat $6 per pour so you can try some of the comparatively pricey wines by the glass for a great price.
In the end I will say that most of the staff are earnest young people who probably just need more training in their jobs, but at this point, there were a lot of gaps in the service. If you don't mind the size of the room it is very comfortable. You will be looking at all your possessions but I had two good nights' sleep (albeit a little short the first morning courtesy of the alarm) in a central location in a truly great city.
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- Also Known As:
- Boston Bulfinch Hotel