We booked a room at the Intercontinental in Boston as a bit of splurge after a particularly arduous travel schedule during the previous two weeks. There are definitely less expensive properties in Boston that offer high-end amenities and service, but we wanted to spoil ourselves a bit. As you can guess from my two-star rating, that did not happen.
First, let me say that the Intercontinental is a spectacular property, from the modern mirrored facade to the grand lobby and nicely appointed rooms (I particularly liked the large soaking tub in the bathroom with sliding panels that opened to the room, with a separate shower stall). The problem is with the service. We encountered a series of blunders and oversights during our stay. Individually they would not have been significant (I certainly understand that sometimes things go wrong and it's nobody's fault), but all of them together made our stay an unpleasant experience. It suggests that there may be a systemic problem in the training of the staff that needs to be addressed.
The problem started at check-in. We are a same-sex couple and had booked a king-size bed. I gave the desk clerk a printed copy of my reservation, which clearly stated that we had reserved a king-size bed. She first asked whether we wanted two rooms, and I said that we wanted only one room. She then said that she assumed we wanted two double beds, and I had to tell her that, no, we in fact wanted a king-size bed. I also reminded her that the details of our reservation were included in the printed copy in front of her. She looked down and said nothing--no apology nor acknowledgment that she had made a mistake. This may seem like a trivial issue, but it's not always comfortable to have this kind of conversation at the busy front desk of a high-end hotel.
When we arrived at the hotel we had told the porter on the street that we preferred to carry our own bags. However, when we turned around after checking in we saw that a porter had already loaded our bags onto a trolley and he told us to follow him to the elevator. We once again had to say that we did not want his assistance and asked him to give our bags back to us. As I said, our room was very nice, although I was a bit disappointed to find that our "deluxe view" room on the 9th floor (of 12 floors) looked onto the facade of the building across the street.
I was very surprised to learn that the Intercontinental charged about $13 per day for internet access. At these prices, it really ought to be complimentary. I'm not cheap, but I was not about to pay $13 to simply log into my e-mail to let a friend in town know that I had arrived and would meet her for dinner the next evening. Instead, I went to a nearby Starbucks.
We asked about laundry service at the front desk, and the clerk told us we could call housekeeping when we got to the room. However, we found no phone list or dialing instructions in the room. There was also no laundry slip, no list of TV channels, and no menu of hotel services and prices. It seemed as though our room had not been fully prepared before our arrival, even though we checked in at about 6:30 in the evening. We called the hotel operator and asked for housekeeping (since there was no indication of how to reach housekeeping directly). I asked about the prices for laundry service and was told that we could send our clothes for laundering and that they would tell us the prices after they were done. I then requested that they send a price list to our room, and she told me there was already one in our closet. I assured her there was not and repeated my request.
About 30 minutes later, a member of the housekeeping staff appeared with two laundry bags. I told her I wanted a price list, and she said it was in our closet. She came to look personally and confirmed that it was indeed not there. She then returned with a price list a few minutes later. After all of that, we decided not to have our laundry done. With a charge of $3.50 to wash a pair of underwear, I would prefer to simply buy new ones.
We had noticed the very appealing bar at the rear of the lobby and the outdoor seating area on the water and had hoped to return there for a late drink after returning from dinner. However, when we got back at about 9:00 p.m. the lobby and bar had become a throbbing nightclub and we decided to give it a pass--it was not at all conducive to conversation.
We left the hotel at 9:00 the next morning for a day of sightseeing and put on the "please make up room" sign. (The housekeepers were next door and saw us leave.) We returned at 3:00 after a day of sightseeing to shower and change to meet a friend at 4:30 to find that our room had not been touched. I double-checked and confirmed that we had correctly set the "make up room" light and then called the front desk to request service. (Speaking of staff in the halls, we noticed that they almost went out of their way to avoid making eye contact. A pleasant "good morning" would have been much better. It almost seemed like they considered hotel guests an inconvenience that had to be tolerated.)
While we were waiting for the room to be made up, we spoke with the wonderful Front Office Manager Edward Woods about our concerns with the service we had received. He listened very attentively, asked appropriate questions to get more details about our concerns, and he was sincerely sympathetic and concerned about what we had experienced. I had the distinct impression that Mr. Woods intended to follow up with the staff members to address the issues we had raised to ensure that they were corrected. His highly professional demeanor and genuine concern made me feel much better about the Intercontinental, and I hope that proper training can get this relatively new hotel on the right track with the assistance of dedicated managers like Mr. Woods. He offered us free drinks at the lovely waterfront bar that evening, which was a very nice gesture.
A fire alarm woke us up at 1:00 in the morning on our second night in the Intercontinental and we had to evacuate due to a possible emergency on the floor above us. I realize, of course, that this was not the hotel's fault, and I have to say that the staff did an outstanding job getting everyone out in an orderly manner and keeping us informed of the situation as it developed. (Thankfully, it turned out that there was no fire, and we were back in the room by about 1:45.)
It may seem like I'm making too much of some seemingly trivial issues. As I said, however, it was not the individual issues that concerned me, but the fact that there were so many little mistakes. When I'm splurging on a luxury property like the Intercontinental, I expect the service to be nearly flawless. I could have had a very good experience at any number of other hotels in Boston at a lower price--and that's exactly what I intend to do the next time I'm in town.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This breathtaking, modern Boston waterfront hotel stands on the site where a late-night tea party ignited the American Revolution. Located between the financial district and the booming Fort Point Channel, find yourself at the heart of the city and take in waterfront views from Miel, Boston's first Provence-themed brasserie. An urban retreat, relax and revive with an indoor lap pool and full-service spa. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Booking.com, Orbitz, Hotwire, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Priceline, Ctrip TA, IHG, TripOnline SA, Cheap Tickets, HotelQuickly, Cancelon, getaroom.com and Hotel.de so you can book your InterContinental Boston reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Intercontinental Boston Hotel Boston
- Boston Intercontinental