Prime location and great views: A review of the Boston Marriott Long Wharf
Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Editor’s Note: During the COVID-19 crisis, our team has temporarily ceased taking review trips. However, we have resumed the publication of new flight, hotel and lounge reviews, from trips taken before the lockdown; and we are also republishing a selection of reviews from previous years.
As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
Boston is known for its rich American history, sports teams, colleges and universities, reinvigorated food scene and more. With so much to offer, the de facto capital of New England has become a top destination for travelers from all over the world. It is also becoming known for its pricey hotels with properties averaging around $300 a night or more, even in low season -- never mind a high-end hotel.
One such hotel is Boston's Marriott Long Wharf, located right in the tourist hot spot of Boston Harbor, a destination that's popular with Bostonians too. As you'd expect, it's not a cheap place to stay -- especially in the peak summer season.
However, if you visit Boston in the middle of winter -- like I did -- you can find reasonable rates at this hotel. It has recently undergone a full renovation, so I was eager to see if the high room rates are justified.
I booked the Long Wharf at the beginning of January through the Marriott website. I took advantage of my AAA membership, which can save members 5% or more on Marriott reservations. I also used the Rakuten plug-in to earn 2.5% cash back, which wasn't an especially lucrative return, but it all adds up.
I don't have any status with Marriott, so I wasn't eligible for late checkout or a room upgrade.
The Boston Marriott Long Wharf is a Category 7 property in the Bonvoy program, meaning a free night will cost you 50,000 points on an off-peak night, 60,000 on a standard night and 70,000 on a peak night.
If you find yourself needing to top up your account before a redemption, you may want to consider a Marriott card, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card.
You'll earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
Additionally, you’ll receive an annual award night worth up to 50,000 points upon account renewal at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program (certain hotels have resort fees), up to $300 annual statement credit on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, instant Gold Marriott elite status with the ability to earn Platinum with $75,000 in annual spending on the card. The card has a $450 annual fee (see rates & fees).
From the moment my train arrived at Boston's South Station, I appreciated the Long Wharf location. The walk from the station to the hotel was a quick 15 minutes.
The property overlooks the harbor and within walking distance of many Boston landmarks, like Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the charming North End neighborhood. For those looking to venture farther, the New England Aquarium subway stop for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is directly outside the hotel.
On the night I arrived, it was raining so I took a few Lyft rides, shockingly cheap at $6. they were quick trips to places like the Downtown Crossing/Boston Common area, but I appreciated the inexpensive tab. For the most part, everywhere I went was walkable or reachable by Boston Metro (or the T, as it is called).
I arrived at the hotel around 3:30 p.m. and was able to go directly up to my room as I had checked in on the Marriott Bonvoy app and received a digital key.
You enter the hotel on the ground floor, home to a Starbucks and the hotel ballrooms. To get to the check-in desk, you take an escalator up to the desk, which is somewhat hidden in the corner of the lobby. I didn't notice it at first as the elevator bank blocked it, so I could have stumbled around to find it, had I not checked in digitally.
I was assigned Room 257, near the end of the hallway. When I arrived, housekeeping was still cleaning many of the rooms, which I found a tad annoying. This was before the pandemic broke out, and these days you may never see a housekeeping team during your stay.
Many of the rooms overlook the ballroom area, an eyesore in January because it was under construction. The arches with views to one of the ballrooms are a nice architectural detail, but I can also see it becoming noisy during an event -- if and when those ever return.
Upon entering the room, I noticed some practical touches, such as an open closet where I hung my winter coat and left my boots, a nice big mirror on the sliding bathroom door and a kitchenette across from the bathroom.
The bedroom had a queen-size bed with nightstands and lights on each side with convenient switches and plug locations. (I later found the bed was so comfortable -- mattress, sheets and pillows -- that I struggled to pull myself out in the morning.)
Next to the bed was a large chair with a footstool and a little side table. Again, I found the convenience of the switch location for the corner lamp to be a weirdly satisfying check on my list.
The windows matched the arches in the interior of the hotel, which I enjoyed as someone who appreciates unique architecture. My room looked out to the aquarium, which was not quite the "City View" that my booking had stated.
A large flat-screen smart TV was installed directly across from the bed, and comes with Netflix.There was also a coat rack and umbrella stand next to the TV in the corner of the room. I put the umbrella to use and was thankful the hotel provided one.
The closet had plenty of hangers, an iron and ironing board. The kitchenette had water for purchase, complimentary Keurig coffee and tea and a minifridge inside the cabinet.
(Photo by Elizabeth Hund/The Points Guy)
When I went to make coffee in the morning, I was grossed out to find that the coffee cups were not clean after I mindlessly went to fill it up for the Keurig.
The bathroom was fairly big and well lit. The large vanity had two drawers for additional storage.
There were plenty of toiletries provided for my stay but some were still in a crumpled plastic bag on the counter.
Inside the bag were a toothbrush, toothpaste, a razor, shaving cream, two shampoos, conditioner, body wash and a shower cap and a comb. There was also a shampoo, conditioner and body wash already stocked in the shower.
The shower products were local Boston products, a nice touch. The smell was pleasant, nothing too overwhelming.
The shower was a good size and features two different shower heads, one wall-mounted and another handheld. The water pressure was decent, but nothing spectacular. What I liked about this shower was that the handles were on the opposite side of the showerheads, which meant I didn't have to worry about getting wet while turning on the shower.
Putting the shower to the TPG shower test, I'd say it was a very close pass. For reference, I'm 5 feet, 6 inches tall.
Food and Beverage
I hadn't eaten anything on my train ride, so I grabbed an appetizer at the hotel while checking out the Waterline restaurant and bar, which has a cool casual vibe. I noticed quite a few hotel patrons grabbing an afternoon drink and snack.
The menu featured a lot of New England classics, like clam chowder, but I went for the Maple Chicken Lollipops ($14) per the waitresses' recommendation.
I came back later that evening to grab a drink and ordered a bourbon, which rang in at $16. I noticed that the crowd had changed from earlier in the day with more non-hotel guests meeting up with friends. The mood remained cool and casual, with super friendly and attentive staff both day and night.
The next morning, I made my way back to the Waterline for breakfast, where diners had the option of a $29 buffet (RIP, hotel buffets!) or ordering off the menu. I opted for the latter as I didn't find anything at the buffet particularly intriguing.
I ordered what any Boston visitor must — a Lobstah dish. The Lobster Benedict rang in at $26, and I had it with a coffee which cost me $6.
I was happy with my decision as this was one of the best Benedicts I've ever had and I always order eggs Benedict of some sort when dining out for breakfast. The lobster was just the right amount of "buttered up," not to mention that the portions were generous. The English muffin tasted like it had been freshly baked. And the egg? Poached to perfection. Finally, the Hollandaise sauce was, literally and figuratively, the dressing on top.
The lobby of the Boston Marriott Long Wharf is not huge but offers multiple lounges spread throughout the floor in separate rooms. Visitors populated the more comfortable and private seating areas.
Right off the main lobby was a more cozy lounge area that offered plenty of seating for gathering as well as an entertainment area.
Directly across from the check-in area is another lounge but this one seems to cater more to business travelers. This is a working area with desktops, printer and the couch also had working areas complete with plugs.
The Long Wharf is home to an M Club Lounge, although I didn't have complimentary access to it since I'm not a Platinum Elite member. If you are a Platinum Elite Bonvoy member, you and one guest will be treated to complimentary breakfast, food and snacks throughout the day, a free Starbucks drink and a private space to work and relax and more. The club is located on an upper floor, removed from the rest of the hotel.
On the third floor, there was a fully equipped gym, pool and balcony overlooking the harbor.
I was bummed that I didn't bring gym clothes because this was one of the best-equipped hotel gyms I'd ever seen. They have multiple weight machines, free weights, ellipticals, treadmills, two Peloton bikes and other workout equipment. Headphones are available for gym-goers who forget theirs, which I thought was a nice touch.
Down the hall from the gym is a pool that ranged in depth from 4 feet to 5 feet. When I visited the previous night, it was occupied by many families.
The pool area has floor-to-ceiling windows that look out to the harbor. Outside the pool, there is a balcony that wraps around the pool deck. It wasn't crowded when I visited in January, but I can imagine it gets much more crowded during a New England summer.
I was most impressed with the location of the Boston Marriott Long Wharf, a short walk away from a lot of the major Boston attractions.
This property would be a great pick for any type of traveler as it offered a variety of amenities that seems to cater to everyone. For instance, there are plenty of lounges where business travelers can work and where tourists can chill. The pool deck offers families a place to hang out and keep the kids entertained. There is also the New England Aquarium within walking distance -- a favorite destination for many of the families staying at the hotel.
Some things left a bad impression -- the dirty coffee cup, the unfinished bathroom amenity setup and incomplete construction — but the overall design, small touches, friendly staff and good vibe of the hotel allowed me to overlook these shortcomings.
Overall, I felt that the $225 a night tab was worth it. Marriott Platinum Elite members may find the Boston Marriott Long Wharf even more valuable because they have access to the M Club, with its complimentary breakfast and food throughout the day.
All photos by the author.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.