Consistency is Key: A Review of the Element Lexington in Metro Boston
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During a recent weekend in Boston I split my time between two very different hotels: the Old World opulence of the Fairmont Copley Plaza and the budget-friendly extended-stay Element Lexington. I wanted a room with plenty of space, as well as reasonable parking rates, since I had a rental car with me. Although there were several hotels in the area that offered what I was looking for, I'm a fan of the Element brand, which was inspired by Westin and markets itself as modern, ecofriendly and innovative.
The Element Lexington certainly delivered on my hunt for a budget-friendly stay. I originally booked a studio room with two queen beds directly through Marriott at an average nightly rate of $145 before taxes and fees. However, soon after booking, I noticed that the same room was available for $109 on Expedia, so I filed a best-rate-guarantee claim. My claim was approved within a few hours and my new nightly rate dropped to just under $82 (the matched lower rate plus a 25% discount).
The total cost of my three-night stay, including taxes and fees, came out to about $274, which I paid for using my Chase Sapphire Reserve. In the process, I earned 822 Ultimate Rewards points, worth about $16 according to TPG’s latest valuations.
As it was a Category 4 property in the Marriott Rewards program, I could have also booked my stay for 25,000 points per night, but considering that was equivalent to about $200 per night, it didn't make any sense for me to do so.
About 20 minutes outside of Downtown Boston, the hotel wasn't in the middle of it all by any means — stay at the Element Boston Seaport District if it's a more central location you're after. However, the other property closer to Downtown was charging over $100 more per night and didn't include free parking.
The hotel's location wasn't completely desolate, though. Lexington Center, with restaurants and boutiques, was nearby, and I could've used the hotel's free shuttle service to get there. Also, since the hotel shared its property with the Aloft Lexington, it was possible to go out for a change in scenery without driving anywhere (more on that later).
The Element brand puts a big emphasis on community and engagement, and first-time guests would have immediately noticed that stepping into the lobby. The setup was basically modeled after co-working spaces, consisting of couches, dining tables, and high-top tables (with built-in power outlets).
The design was modern and matched what you could expect from practically any other Element property in the world.
Check-in was quick and easy. I was given a choice between a room on the ground floor or a room on the fourth floor (the highest), but far from the elevator. Despite having a decent amount of baggage, which I needed to haul myself, I went with the latter.
After a long trek from the elevator, I finally arrived at the room I'd be staying in. The one drawback to every room having its own kitchen was that the hallway had a constant pungent odor. On the bright side, it never wafted into my room.
The room was decently sized, at 407 square feet, and was well-organized. As with the lobby, the room's design was familiar — perfectly clean and modern but not especially stylish.
The two queen Westin Heavenly beds were comfortable and had power outlets built into the bedside table lamp.
Although the olive-painted wall added a splash of color to the room, it felt bland.
Across the two beds was a small living area and kitchen.
The kitchen was equipped with a full-sized refrigerator, two-burner stove, microwave, coffeemaker and dishwasher.
In the cabinets were all of the pots, pans, dishes and utensils a family might need to cook a complete meal.
The desk, complete with easily accessible power outlets, wasn’t overly cramped and made a great workspace.
Though the room was thoroughly cleaned everyday, housekeeping neglected spots. For instance, several lightbulbs were out (a lot for a room that didn't have many lamps to begin with), the luggage rack was broken, and the ironing board was missing its accompanying iron. Oh, and being woken up at 8am on a Saturday to get my room serviced wasn't great either.
Much like the rest of the room, the bathroom was clean, modern and efficient. Keeping with the hotel's sustainability initiatives, the bathroom features were low-flow and the shampoo and soap came in wall-mounted dispensers.
Food and Beverage
The hotel didn't officially have a restaurant or bar, but the lobby had a dining area where free breakfast (for all guests — cough cough, Hyatt Place) was served in the mornings, as well as an evening reception with free beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres Monday through Thursday nights.
While the breakfast spread wasn't as extensive as at, say the St. Regis Maldives, it did the trick. The warm options consisted of scrambled eggs, pork sausages and sweet potatoes.
There was also French toast, regular toast, assorted pastries and breads and cereal.
The highlight for me was the build-your-own-yogurt-parfait station.
There were two types of fruit juices, coffee and tea. The hot-beverage station remained set up in the lobby throughout the day.
Behind the check-in desk was a small pantry where guests could purchase snacks, frozen meals and packaged sandwiches.
Those looking for more substantial food and beverage options, or parents looking to get away from the kids for a little, could walk across the parking lot to the WXYZ Bar at the Aloft. In most cases, you'll probably either want to cook in your room or leave the property for your meals.
Pulling up to the property, I was immediately struck by the abundance of free parking. There were preferred spots reserved for Gold and Platinum elites, as well as drivers of hybrid or electric cars — another nod to the hotel's push toward being ecofriendly.
Although I recommend renting a car if you plan on exploring the area, as previously mentioned, there was also a free shuttle service that took guests anywhere in a five-mile radius. The green alternative would've been to borrow one of the hotel's bikes.
Between the Element and Aloft was a designated dog-walking areas with clean-up stations. Element and Aloft are pet-friendly brands, and at most properties, including these two, animal companions are welcome for no additional fee.
In the lobby was a small business center with two computers and a printer. The Wi-Fi throughout the hotel was fast and free for all guests.
The gym was open 24 hours a day and equipped with treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes, various strength-training machines and free weights. Towels and disposable headphones were also available, which was a nice touch for a hotel of this caliber.
There was also an indoor saline pool, a healthier, more ecofriendly alternative to the average chlorine pool.
The Element Lexington provided exactly what I was looking (minus the Saturday morning wake-up by housekeeping) and at a reasonable price. While the location probably won't be ideal for most people, the rooms are spacious enough to comfortably sleep larger families, and the savings you'll get by staying here (as opposed to Downtown Boston) should more than offset the price of a rental car.
I'd say that the most direct competitors of the Element brand are Homewood Suites and Hyatt House. The difference is that Element is more consistent. Since it's a relatively young brand, practically all Element properties around the world look the same, so you should never end up in a property that could be mistaken for a Motel 6. With both in-room kitchens and daily housekeeping, Element might even earn my nod over an Airbnb.
All photos by the author.