Chic but expensive: The pros and cons of the Envoy Hotel, Autograph Collection, in Boston
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After having my graduation canceled last year due to the pandemic, I was thrilled to hear that we’d be having an in-person ceremony this year at the iconic Fenway Park. I just needed to decide where to stay while in Boston.
Boston offers a ton of interesting hotels to choose from, including lots that can be booked with points. But there was one hotel in particular that I’ve had my eyes on for a while: The Envoy Hotel, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.
The Envoy is a modern 136-room hotel located in the burgeoning Seaport District, near the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Financial District and Downtown Crossing. Boston hotels are expensive to begin with, but this one, in particular, tends to be on the pricier side so I was excited to see how it would fare.
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Stays at the Envoy Hotel don’t come cheap. While rooms can be found from around the $200 range in the low season, they hover around $500 per night most of the year, and even more during busier periods like graduation season. That’s comparable to what some of the city’s more luxurious hotels — like the Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental — often charge.
Of course, you can also use your Marriott Bonvoy points to book a stay. The Envoy Hotel 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. Those points are worth $400, $480 or $560 per night based on TPG valuations.
If your Bonvoy account needs a boost, consider picking up a Marriott card like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. It’s currently offering a welcome offer of 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.
Perks of the card include an annual award night worth up to 50,000 points each year after your card renewal month 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).
The Envoy Hotel is located along the harbor in Boston’s Seaport District. It’s a less than 10-minute drive from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and a roughly 10-minute walk from Boston’s South Station. If you take the free Silver Line bus from the airport, you’ll get dropped off just half a block from the hotel.
The hotel is in a prime location with the Seaport District’s main attractions, including the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, just a short walk away. There are numerous shops, restaurants, museums in the area, plus a bowling alley and a beer garden are nearby. The hotel also offers easy access to some of Boston’s classic attractions such as Faneuil Hall and the Massachusetts State House. However, it’s a bit far from other popular spots like Copley Square, Newbury Street and Fenway Park.
Note: If you’re visiting the area in the near future, plan extra time when requesting rideshare services as there’s currently a shortage of drivers in Boston. Alternatively, you’ll want to find and save the numbers of the local taxi companies, such as the Boston Cab Association, Metro Cab of Boston and the Independent Taxi Operators Association.
As soon as I entered the lobby, I noticed its modern, trendy design. It looks a bit like what you’d expect from a W Hotel, but much brighter thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. The centerpiece is an oversized chandelier made of reclaimed ropes and phone cords. Behind the check-in desk is an interactive wall of heat-sensing bulbs that mirrors your movements.
I arrived at the hotel at 11 a.m. on a Friday, and despite only being a lowly Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite, was able to get a room right away — not bad considering check-in is usually at 3 p.m. The check-in agent was friendly and efficient, and before I knew it I had a pair of keys in my hand. Had I wanted, I could’ve opted for contactless check-in and gotten a mobile key.
The hotel does a great job incorporating the seaport theme into the design. The elevator features a mural depicting the nearby ocean and once the doors opened on my floor I was greeted by a wavy art piece that mirrors the tide.
I was assigned a classic two-queen room on the top floor of the hotel, the sixth. It was just under 400 square feet, so a comfortable size for my one-night stay.
Like the rest of the hotel, the design was true to its locale, with a glass wall with a map of Boston separating the bedroom from the bathroom. It had a modern but relatively minimalist design, featuring neutral tones and reclaimed wood accents. I just wished that I had a corner or water-facing room as those have floor-to-ceiling windows.
The beds were comfortable, dressed in white linens with plenty of pillows. If I were to nitpick, they felt a little bland without the usual decorative pillows and throws, but those were likely removed as a part of Marriott’s enhanced cleaning protocols. Each bed had a pair of wall-mounted reading lights on either side, as well as built-in power outlets and USB ports — the most important amenities for me.
Across from the beds was a desk with a swanky but comfortable work chair. The desk had power outlets and USB ports built-in on the side, which I again appreciated. I tend to travel with a lot of gadgets and I had no trouble charging them all at once.
The TV was on a stand made from a bicycle frame. It was a cool idea in theory, but not very practical since it stood fairly low. Ironically, the hotel didn’t actually have any bikes for guests to use other than the ones in the gym, which I’ll get into later.
There wasn’t a minibar to speak of, but there were two complimentary bottles of water. And while there was a coffee maker, there weren’t any cups or supplies to actually use it.
There also was a giant bean bag type of chair in the corner of the room. I’m all for hip furniture, but in practice, this wasn’t comfortable at all. Luckily, it seems like only some rooms have this, while others have more comfortable chaise lounges.
The bathroom was clean and well-lit, but a bit on the small side. There was a single sink with a safe housed in the drawer beneath it. As previously mentioned, the bathroom was enclosed by sliding glass doors with a map of Boston overlaid. The toilet was in its own water closet with an actual door.
The shower was a walk-in with two shower heads — a rainfall showerhead and a handheld one. I liked the Malin + Goetz toiletries, but thought the bath towels were a bit small and scratchy.
Opposite the bathroom was an open closet with a few hangers and two drawers. There also was an iron and ironing board that could be pulled out.
As a boutique city hotel, I didn’t expect much in terms of amenities. However, there was a solid 24-hour fitness center on the second floor. It wasn’t very extensive, but did contain the basics for a workout while traveling, including a Hydrow rowing machine and three Peloton bikes — a favorite among the TPG team. Due to the pandemic, capacity was limited to a maximum of four guests at a time and it looked like some equipment was removed to allow more space for distancing.
In the corner of the lobby is a small business center with two laptops and printing and scanning equipment. There’s also coworking space with easily accessible power outlets.
Wi-Fi is free for all guests and incredibly fast. A speed test showed an impressive 87.83 Mbps download and 107.27 Mbps upload.
Food and beverage
The main restaurant, Outlook Kitchen, is located just off the lobby. It’s temporarily closed, but there will be a Latin-inspired pop-up restaurant, Para Maria, that will operate in its place over the summer.
The shining star of the hotel, however, is ithe Lookout Rooftop. This is a popular spot among locals and visitors alike.
It has a mix of indoor and heated outdoor seating and has some of the best views of the city’s skyline. In the winter, it offers Instagrammable transparent-walled igloos with heaters so you can enjoy the views year-round. On weekend nights expect a bit of a nightclub vibe, with a roped-off line around the hotel and a bouncer checking IDs.
While it’s known for its drinks, the rooftop also serves lunch and dinner and brunch on the weekends. The menu isn’t very large, but offers a fairly diverse selection, including items like a mezze bowl, chorizo flatbread, sweet and spicy pork belly, as well as some New England classics like clam chowder and a fish sandwich.
I came here for brunch and had a pepper and egg white sandwich, accompanied by overnight oats. The food came in paper containers and was tasty, though the bag of chips that came with my breakfast sandwich felt a little out of place.
With only 136 rooms, many of which were empty when I visited, the hotel definitely has a boutique feel. The front desk agents were very friendly and helpful. In addition to the early check-in, I got one of the latest checkouts I’ve ever gotten. Since I needed a place to store my bag while I attended my graduation, the hotel let me keep my room until around 7 p.m., instead of the usual noon check-out time.
The room was clean, the TV remote came wrapped in a seal indicating that it was sanitized and there were disinfectant wipes available for personal use. I requested a pair of slippers and they were delivered very quickly.
The Envoy Hotel isn’t your cookie-cutter Marriott. It has a unique design with nods to the hotel’s surroundings at every turn. Although often overlooked, the Seaport District is a great jumping-off point for exploring the city and offers myriad restaurants and bars in walking distance. Would I stay here again? Absolutely, but only if the nightly rate is on the lower end of its spectrum. I would have a hard time justifying the high price tag if I could stay at higher-end properties like The Ritz-Carlton for the same cost. Even the nearby W Boston, which was recently renovated and is just as trendy, is often priced significantly lower than the Envoy.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
All photos by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy
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