Colonnade Hotel offers Halloween discounts

Halloween night can get a little, well, creepy. Before you set out on the streets of Boston looking for something ghoulish and gaudy to participate in, make sure you have a place to call home at the end of the night. Boston’s Colonnade Hotel is offering all guests who arrive in costume on the weekend of Oct. 31, 2010 a 10 discount on room rates.

But for those who like a little trick with their treat, The Colonnade is upping its ante.

For the more competitive enthusiasts, The Colonnade Hotel will offer guests the chance to compete for 31 percent off of the room rate. If your costume is deemed the funniest, the scariest or the most original, your nightly room rate just got 31 percent cheaper. Since The Colonnade is a pet-friendly hotel, pets can dress up and also join in on the fun for a chance to win.

Need a few suggestions? No problem! If you’re coming to Boston for Halloween weekend, consider dressing up as one of these hometown favorites:

  • Ted Williams (with or without ice)
  • Any one of the New Kids on the Block (a good family costume idea)
  • Samuel Adams (with or without the beer)
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Paul Revere
  • Donna Summer (sequins required)

Happy Halloween!

Boston hotels waive bottled water charges while city remains in a water emergency

Two million people in the Boston area remain without water today following a catastrophic pipe rupture this weekend. While state officials work to repair the pipes and restore normal water usage through Boston and its surrounding 29 counties, Boston hotels are handing out freebies on what is usually a hot hotel room commodity: bottled water.

What would normally cost visitors upwards of $3 from the hotel mini bar or presentation tray is now free to guests staying at hotels.

State officials have issued a mandatory “boil water order” to affected counties that include: boiling water for at least one minute before use; no hand-washing or dish-washing in tap water; and most importantly, no drinking water from a tap or faucet, even if it’s filtered. I checked in with a few hotels in the city to learn what they’re doing to help guests cope with the water outage.

The Colonnade Hotel
informed me that all bottled water and all mini-bar water is complimentary for hotel guests. The Mandarin Oriental Boston is handing out free bottled water to all guests and the hotel colleagues, and all the dish-washing units in the hotel rooms have sanitizing cycles with sanitizing tablets. The Four Seasons Boston is putting extra bottled water in all the rooms at turndown and using bottled water to brew all coffee.

At the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common, general manager Erwin Schinnerl told me the hotel is taking every precaution to ensure guest and staff safety.

“The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common has operated uninterrupted for the past couple of days,” said Schinnerl. “All guest rooms are provided with ample bottled water, fresh ice is being provided, cooking, coffee/tea brewing and dishwashing processes have been modified to include previously boiled water and sanitation procedures for dishwashing, to assure no health and safety procedures are compromised.”

Thankfully, the water crisis is close to over. State officials were able to take a water sample early this morning from the busted pipe and results are expected back this afternoon, according to Ria Convery, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. The MWA hopes that full water restoration will be back to normal within 24 to 48 hours, but until the all-clear comes from authorities, everyone in Boston is required to use and drink only bottled or boiled water.

Were you traveling through Boston during the water crisis? How did your hotel help you? Let us know.

Hotel Review: Boston’s XV Beacon

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.


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.

Hotel Review: Copley Square Hotel Boston

The Copley Square Hotel opened in 1891 in Boston’s famous Back Bay neighborhood. Near trendy Newbury Street and tucked behind the Boston Public Library, the seven-story boutique hotel seems overshadowed by its Westin and Marriott neighbors, but what it lacks in stature it makes up in grandeur.

The hotel closed in January 2008 for a $18-million renovation and reopened later that year as a luxury contemporary boutique with old-school elegance and modern amenities.


I heard about the modern-meets-sexy designs and decor that graced the rooms at the Copley Square Hotel post-renovation, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the seductive atmosphere I walked into. Simply put: these hotel rooms set the mood.

I was expecting a few silk throw pillows and a curvy bedside lamp, but was greeted with a leopard-print sofa, champagne-colored drapes and a king-size bed perfectly positioned to view the entire city (or be viewed from the city). Yes, there were decorative silk pillows and curvy lamps, and also a 32-inch flat-screen TV, WiFi in the room, and an iPod docking station. There’s also plenty of strategically-placed mirrors, which is a good thing if you’re intent on looking your best before you make your way down the grand staircase that leads into the hotel lobby.

The hotel claims it’s catering to business professionals and it is – I had no problem plugging in, getting on, and communicating from the comforts of my king-sized bed. But, in my opinion, it’s also a the perfect little hideaway for some rekindling of the romantic kind. Just remember to put the sign on your door (the hotel’s risqué-read-between-the-lines way of saying ‘do not disturb’.)


A decent size for a hotel bathroom, it was complete with a tub/shower combo and basic amenities (shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotions). The standout part of this area, however, is the hotel’s “green” commitment. Placed in every bathroom is a plastic chip – flip to green and you don’t need any restocking; flip to red and your cleaning crew will supply fresh towels and amenities. It’s a nicer way to signal a change is needed if you’re not into throwing your dirty towels on the floor.


Room service comes directly from Xhale or minibar, the Copley Square Hotel’s restaurant and martini bar. I opted for a mid-evening snack from the room-service menu and was pleasantly surprised with my options. While there’s a full menu complete with salads, burgers and pasta entrees, the in-room dining menu also includes a snacks page, which offers everything from caramel corn to ice cream sandwiches. I opted for a bowl of “fresh popped corn” but I hear the marshmallows with chocolate dipping sauce is worthy of a try.

Admittedly, the 18 percent gratuity on a bowl of popcorn seemed a bit much, but I chalked this one up to the experience.


My first impression of the hotel staff came when I was greeted at the check-in counter by a lovely woman who wanted to know if I preferred a glass of white or red while I wait. Score 10 for knowing I needed a cocktail. Apparently, the hotel hosts a wine hour every evening and all guests – whether you’ve checked in or not – are welcome to wind down. The check-in process took only a few minutes (disclaimer: I was the only person in line), and I was asked if I required a wake-up call or wanted to join the company staff on a run the following morning. No to both, but it was a lovely touch.

The hotel was debuting a new restaurant concept – Sushi and Sake Nights – the evening I checked in. The food was good, but the waitstaff was unclear as to what sushi and sake really is. Once the kinks were figured out, there was plenty of spicy tuna rolls to go around.


On the outside, the Copley Square Hotel looks like a simple, commuter-friendly, business-oriented hotel perfect for the overnighter needing a place to stay before the big board meeting. One step inside and you’ll forget you have a big presentation due the next day. The renovation put this hotel back on the map, but it came with a price: rooms start at $170 in the off-season and spike to a starting price of $500 for stays during the summer months.

Bottom line:
Business travelers might choose a less-expensive hotel, but for those looking for a hidden hotel perfect for a quick escape from the chaos of everyday life, complete with amenities that ooze “the mood”, this is undoubtedly the place to stay.