I’m a sucker for a good party. So when I learned that XV Beacon
in Boston’s Back Bay was celebrating its 10th birthday this year, I grabbed my party hat, packed my bags and made my way over to the 60-room boutique hotel in Beacon Hill. (After all, 10 is an important age: you’re finally out of single digits, you’re only three years away from being a teenager and in another 10 years, you’ll be only 10 more years away from 30 and that’s an entirely other party! But, I digress…)
The Boston hotel opened on Dec. 31, 1999, and has witnessed an interesting turn of events over the past decade. Amy Finsilver, general manager of XV Beacon, said that while the clientele has remained the same, their demands have changed.
“The demands are more today because every dollar counts,” said Finsilver. “Everyone is spending a lot of time and money, but we’re not bringing in the same amount of money, so we have to adjust to meet the changing needs of the guests. They want intimacy and privacy, and that’s what they’ll get.”
Turning 10 is a big year for XV Beacon – the rooms will undergo slight renovations, (namely, the addition of cashmere throws and new bath fragrances made from a signature XV Beacon scent), and the hotel’s restaurant, Mooo, will continue to reinvent its menu for locals and travelers who have come to enjoy the ambiance of the steakhouse. In the meantime, I decided to spend a night at the tony Beacon Hill address and check out the views for myself.THE ROOMS
The 10 guest room floors of XV Beacon are designed to resemble an apartment building instead of a hotel. You’ll find the room numbers prominently placed on the side of the door, immediately up from the doorbell (a nice touch for business travelers who spend more time on the road than at home).
The rooms are decorated in champagne and gold tones with black accents, and every room has a gas-powered fireplace, a surround-sound stereo system and fully-stocked mini-bar. The king- or queen-sized beds are set apart from the ‘office space’, which includes a full-sized desk and complimentary WiFi access. Sadly, the WiFi is the one thing that didn’t work in the room. Maybe it’s because the building is so old, or maybe it’s just that the provider isn’t very good, but there was little-to-no signal, which is shame when the WiFi is free. Instead, I plugged into the cable in the wall and found a fast signal, but as a business traveler I would have enjoyed the free WiFi from the comfort of my bed or sofa.
Like many boutique hotels, XV Beacon is striving for a more eco- friendly environment. Each room comes with ‘green cards’, which tell hotel staff whether or not the sheets and towels need to be changed and washed (a bonus in my book).
The bathrooms in XV Beacon are worthy of their own article. Complete with “Fresh” products and a shower built for 10 (also a tub/jacuzzi combo), these bathrooms are about the size of a small apartment and come complete with shoe-shine kits, sewing kits, and a walk-in closet.
Thanks to the sound engineers who clearly had a hand in the design phases, there are built-in speakers in the bathrooms so you can rock out to the radio during tub time, or at least wake up to some soothing sounds before starting your day.
Quite honestly, the XV Beacon could have charged me to stay in the bathroom and I would have been happy.
I was a little hesitant to eat at Mooo simply because the name alone frightens me. However, I’d heard great things about the food and staff so I removed the sounds of cows grazing from my head and entered the steak house.
The place filled up quickly with business elite from nearby Beacon Hill offices. The menu, as you might expect, is steak heavy but also features fresh local seafood specials and an extensive wine list with over 750 selections and 4,000 bottles wine. Truth be told, a part of me wanted to skip dinner and spend the evening in the cellar reliving history among the bottles of Bordeaux.
The prices at Mooo are standard – $5-$8 side dishes; $25-$45 steaks and entrees. If you’re not up for a full meal, you can sit at the bar with a martini and mac-n-cheese and still soak in the atmosphere of the place.
Since XV Beacon is a small hotel that caters mainly to the business traveler, the staff recognizes most of its regulars and has their favorite amenities (newspapers, dinner reservations, car services) waiting. It’s these essentials that keep the business traveler coming back to XV Beacon, but it’s also this kind of attention that appeals to leisure travelers who have felt a dip in customer service over the past year.
Within a few minutes of entering my room, I received a call to make sure the room was to my liking. It was. However, after 10 minutes of trying to connect with WiFi I finally called for back-up. The hotel sent up a cable wire to plug in and was more than helpful in setting up the Internet service.
One of the benefits of XV Beacon is the hotel car service, which is available to all guests for airport transfers or local rides to business meetings, the theater or dinner reservations. The concierge will ask for your schedule so they can properly prepare any transportation and in the meantime, you can rest assured knowing you’ll end up where you need to be on time.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If there were a “Best in Show” for hotels, XV Beacon would be the top dog in its breed. Business travelers can’t go wrong here, and for those leisure travelers looking for a little more attention or a more intimate getaway, XV Beacon is a good choice.
While XV Beacon offers competitive rates for its class, budget-conscious travelers would do well at a cheaper hotel with less amenities. Standard rates at XV Beacon begin at $250 and go as high as $575. Currently, the hotel is offering a 10% discount to Boston residents who want a mini-vacation without having to leave the city.