From $150, with discounts for students, artists and caretakers.
In lots of quirky ways, the new Revolution Hotel in Boston’s South End transcends its budget niche with a generously hip aesthetic. Wherever guests turn, there are original works of art that celebrate Boston’s history as an incubator of music, technology and, yes, revolution, as in the original (circa 1775). Making up for the fun-size rooms are ample places to lounge, socialize and work, including a sprawling co-working space cheekily called “Conspire,” with communal tables, lightning-fast Wi-Fi and free-flowing coffee. And the millennials and digiterati who are the target audience might enjoy (though not necessarily peruse) the hotel’s “spiritual menu,” with the King James Bible, Torah and Quran available at reception along with the Bhagavad Gita.
The 177-room hotel, which opened in December, is on the edge of a prosperous neighborhood of brownstones and community gardens. It is a five-minute walk to the Back Bay-South End T stop. Less accessible was parking. Operated by Provenance Hotels, the Revolution has neither a parking garage, nor a driveway. So after double-parking our car to drop off luggage in the lobby, we were directed to a parking lot that required a 10-minute walk back.
With most rooms measuring only 120 square feet, they are mainly a place to crash. To that end, our room was quiet and remarkably dark. But I struggled with claustrophobia in our so-called triple, which came with a bunk bed cantilevered over a king bed. A scant 15 inches separated the foot of the bed from the wall. The bunk-king contraption, with a metal-mesh railing for safety, resembled nothing so much as an oversize hamster cage. Still, the designers managed to inject some whimsy. The underside of the bunk became a canvas for a seascape emblazoned with “Dream On,” a nod to the Boston-bred Aerosmith. And the institutional cube — lacking bathroom, closet, phone and minibar — did have some splurges, including a snowy white duvet, TV and sleek, swiveling reading lights on either side of the bed.
There are loft-style rooms with private bathrooms for when you are feeling, as the website explains, a “little bad and a little bougie.” But those are in an annex across the street and start at $275. The majority of rooms in the main building rely on hall bathrooms. They aren’t so bad, however. Rather than a health-club layout, with showers on one side and toilet stalls on the other, there are several individual bathrooms per floor, each with a toilet, sink and shower, and a lock on the door. (I suppose that’s why the staff is justified in calling them “private.’’) In any case, the bathrooms were bright, clean and attractive, with navy-and-white tiles and a large round mirror framed with a band of light. Stacks of thick, white towels and wash cloths were available in the entryway. And each shower had free shampoo, conditioner and body wash by Modern Apothecary in a “bamboo lemongrass” scent.
A lobby restaurant is scheduled to open this summer. In the meantime, the hotel is an easy stroll to many lively restaurants, among them Beehive, Coppa and Myers + Chang. There is also a small coffee bar that sells delectable muffins and pastries in the lobby.
A small 24-hour fitness center in the basement (what the hotel calls its garden level) offers several pieces of equipment, including one Peloton. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and dogs are welcome for a $45 fee per stay. In addition to the comfy pillows already on the beds, a “pillow menu,” advertising soft, medium, firm, extra-firm, neck and body pillows, promises that your selection will be delivered “right to you.” Alas, the pillow buffet was not yet available during our stay. There is no room service, but the staff does try to give guests personal attention. They apparently made a note in the computer when I reserved the room that we were touring colleges with our son, something they remarked on more than once. Frustratingly, a few times during our stay, a call from my cellphone to the front desk went straight to voice mail. When I did get through to request that a luggage cart be sent to our room on the morning we checked out, the cart arrived in under four minutes.
The Bottom Line
The secret to the Revolution’s affordability — namely postage-stamp rooms and bathrooms in the hall — is the same reason this former Y.W.C.A. may hold little appeal for those not looking to relive their college years.
Revolution Hotel, 40 Berkeley Street; 617-848-9200; therevolutionhotel.com
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