South End, Boston
Trendy, $ (from $100)
With the opening of Revolution Hotel, young-at-heart travelers no longer have to pay an arm and a leg to wake up among the English-style squares and Victorian brownstones of Boston’s charming South End neighborhood. The hip, millennial-friendly boutique is one of the most affordable in the city and feels like a steal given its modern-day trimmings, which include a very welcoming, art-filled lobby and an industrial-chic co-working space that doubles as a bar and backdrop for cultural programming. Here's the catch: The most affordable rooms have private, well-appointed bathrooms down the hall rather than en-suite (more on this below). If you're inclined to call that a deal-breaker, take it from someone who has experienced the arrangement: It's a small price to pay for scoring a budget-friendly room in a not-so-budget part of town.
At a Glance
Style: The hotel nods at Boston’s creative history at every turn. Renowned street artist Tristan Eaton was brought in to do the pop-art-inspired, spray paint mural in the two-tiered lobby and the carpeting in the guest room hallways, which depict an array of local inventions and innovators (Polaroid camera, smiley face, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, JFK). Innovation Tower, a three-story sculpture that wraps around the elevator column, is decorated with more genius local objects — Bose headphones, the optical mouse, pink flamingo lawn ornaments — collected over the last year.
Standout Detail: In addition to having a very work-friendly lobby, the hotel has its own co-working space called Conspire, which is free for guests and open to the public (for a fee). It has a game room and hosts weekly panel talks, workout classes, and events like drag bingo. When I visited, the space hosted a dance party during Boston's Pride parade. The standout feature: A bar made from a fallen elm tree planted in the 1880s in Boston’s Back Bay that has notable dates — the opening of Fenway Park, the legalization of same-sex marriage — hand-burned onto its surface.
This Place Is Perfect For: Young creatives on a budget who want to be centrally located in Boston.
On Site: There’s a fireplace and a library stocked with books from the Beatnik era in the lobby, as well as a retail area and a wall of brass mailboxes salvaged from the original building — a Young Women’s Christian Association and then a home from women looking for work after World War II. A fitness center and the aforementioned co-working space round out the on-site offerings.
Rooms: Rooms come in king, triple (king bed with lofted bed overhead), and quad (four beds bunk-bed-style) varieties. They're compact and minimalist and make use of their space with custom-designed wood and steel furnishings, gear walls complete with clothing rods, seats, and drawers instead of closets, and reproductions of vintage art from local artists on the walls. Rooms also come with red and white wool blankets from Brahms Mount and smart refrigerator vending machines stocked with local goods from Boston startup LeanBox. As mentioned above: Some rooms share private, single-occupant bathrooms clustered together in what looks like fancy locker rooms at the end of each hall, which are stocked with towels and hairdryers and are routinely cleaned. Each individual bathroom has its own sink, toilet, shower, and bath products. Rooms come with occupancy lights that signal bathroom availability as well as Steele Canvas shower bags with robes and slippers to make your run to the loo as comfortable as possible.
Food + Drink: The lobby coffee shop is inspired by the Boston Tea Party — the countertop was built to look like tea crates — and serves coffee, snacks, and ice cream treats. It also has a takeaway window in the red brick building’s exterior that looks over Berkeley Street. A dedicated restaurant space is in the works, and will compliment the drinks and snacks on offer at the bar inside Conspire.
What to Do Nearby
South End is a charming, stately Boston neighborhood. Take a walk, pet many the model-esque dog, and gawk at the brownstones you wish you lived in. It's that kind of town. If it's your first time in Boston, the must-see attractions — Copley Square, Fenway Park, Boston Public Garden, the Freedom Trail, etc. — are all a quick walk, train, or cab ride away. If you're a Boston regular, enjoy South End's little pleasures: a green beauty shopping spree at Follain, a baked good or two from South End Buttery, a charcuterie board from Coppa, a seafood tower from B&G Oysters.