Boston Trip Review Feat. Wanderu, Boltbus & Hotel Marlowe
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Boston for the first time. As someone based in New York City, I can tell you it is the perfect getaway for a few days considering it is only 4-5 hours away by bus or train.
I decided to take the bus since its was considerably cheaper than Amtrak tickets. I bought my New York-Boston ticket for only $17 on the app, Wanderu and it was super easy! A one-way on Amtrak is $150 last-minute.
There are several bus lines that offer service between New York and Boston on Wanderu. Most notably Megabus, Boltbus and Peter Pan which have scheduled departures several times a day, if not hourly. I decided to go with Boltbus for several reasons:
- They offer the cheapest prices
- They advertise a 4 hour 15 minute travel time [it's more like 5 hours]
- They offer extra leg room, free wifi and power outlets
The point of departure for BoltBus is 33rd Street and 11th Avenue right by Javitts Center. Now that there is a subway stop at 34th Street-Hudson Yards, getting there is a lot more convenient.
To be honest, I did not know what to expect. Was the bus going to be filled with sketchy people or be really dirty? To my surprise, it was not. The comfort level wasn't that bad. I rate it a 7 out of a 10, especially for price I paid. There really is tons of legroom (good for those over 6 ft tall), the seats recline a few inches (more than a plane seat) and no one sat next to me which ended up being for the better because I got major carsick not even 5 minutes after we departed. The wifi onboard worked. I'm not sure about the power outlets as I did not use them.
In terms of the bus' cleanliness, I give a 5 out of 10. You could tell the bus was old. The seats had visible wear and tear and the floors weren't inviting. Maybe it's just me, but I don't want gum on the sides of the upholstery and crumbs all around. I know, I know. You get what you pay for!
There is a bathroom or "port-a-potty" at the back of the bus which is a plus. I did not use it so I cannot comment on how clean it was. But it's good to know they have bathrooms on board for its passengers on long bus rides.
A word on my return bus ride home: it was a lot newer and nicer with black leather seats (similar to the photo below). The bus was 90% full with passengers meaning I had to sit next to someone with my feet cramped next to my bags. I noticed that there weren't any power outlets. The driver stopped half-way for a quick break to allow everyone to stretch their legs and for those who were hungry, to grab McDonalds take-out. We made it back to Midtown in a little less than 5 hours.
Overall, I'd rate my trip (both outbound and return bus rides) a 7 out of 10. The driver got me to where I wanted in one piece.
Even though BoltBus advertises 4 hours and 20 minutes as the duration, it seems like 5 hours is a more realistic estimate. It just goes to show you, you never know what kind of driver or shape of the bus you are going to get!
Would I recommend BoltBus to you and / or personally use its services again? Yes, but I need try out Peter Pan (probably not Megabus) next time so I can compare my experiences.
Our word of advice is if you know you are traveling between these cities, book your Amtrak tickets in advance! You can get them for as low as $50 one-way. It's the way to go, especially if you tend to get carsick like me. However, if you have last-minute travel plans, opt for the bus. I booked my ticket the night before I left! And yes, Wanderu sells both bus and train tickets.
I had the opportunity to spend 2 nights at Hotel Marlowe - a 4-star luxury boutique hotel and #1 rated hotel in Cambridge per TripAdvisor. For the most part, people rave about their experiences staying at the hotel online and after staying there I can see why. I loved the location especially because I had a meeting to attend right next-door at Kayak's Technology HQ. The hotel is about a 7 minute walk from Lechmere Station (the last stop on the green line) and a 10 minute ride to the center of Boston. What's more, the hotel is directly connected to the Cambridge Galleria - a huge shopping mall. The thing that really sold me was the fact that they offer travel agent rates which means they value relationships with people like me! Why? At check-in, I received a sweet upgrade to a bigger on the top floor with a great view and then when I got to my room, a special cheese platter and a bottle of wine with a handwritten note from management were waiting for me.
The room that I stayed in was spacious and fully equipped with business and leisure traveler alike. During my stay, I made use of the work desk, watched TV, took a bath each night and ate some of the in-room snacks.
Room Decor = 6/10 (the style needs to be refreshed, but I enjoyed the atlas/compass theme)
Room Cleanliness = 9/10 (normal wear and tear)
Guest Service - 8/10 (helpful and friendly front desk)
Marlowe Hotel won our approval because of its endless perks and wellness appeal. Need a bike? You can use one of Kimpton's custom designed PUBLIC bikes for a ride around town. Want to explore the Charles River? The hotel offers a complimentary kayak for guests to use. What's more, there is a a yoga mat inside every room, free of charge. In-room massages or spa treatments are available at the guest's convenience. Feel like working out at midnight? You can at the on-site gym on the top floor open 24/7. It is also worth mentioning there is a hosted wine reception hour in the lobby from 5-6pm daily!
Final word: Marlowe Hotel is an excellent choice is for those doing business in Cambridge and/or if you would like to experience different neighborhood in Boston. You can bring the kids (connecting rooms are available!), as well as your pet(s) if need be. You can't beat the price and all the extras you receive as a Kimpton Rewards member including $10 Raid the Bar credit, free WiFi, earn reward nights, get exclusive offers and more. You can become a member at time of booking or join online. I would love to return for another stay especially to get the chance to dine at Bambara - the hotel's restaurant and bar, which features local, organic cuisine.
Boston public transportation is on point and the best way to get around the city (besides walking). The subway system known as "The T" can get you anywhere you need to go. Boston's version of the NYC's MetroCard is the CharlieCard. A single ride costs $2.65 with trains coming every 5-10 minutes on 5 lines (Blue, Orange, Green, Red & parts of the Silver Line)
A great starting point for a day exploring Boston by foot is Haymarket Square.
Here are a few highlights of what I saw on my trip...
colonial architecture found in the north end
north square park
paul revere house
Admission costs $3.50 to take a tour of the house and it was completely worth it. The house is composed of 4 rooms with actual furnishings used by Paul Revere and his family. Unfortunately no photography is allowed inside!
greenery at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park
walking along the harborwalk
This place definitely made me feel like I was in New England!
Did you know you can take a water taxi from Boston Logan International Airport to the Long Wharf?
long wharf boats
greenway carousel & boston christmas tree
Faneuil Hall on The Freedom Trail
Visiting Faneuil Hall is an absolute must! It is truly a sight to see especially during Christmastime. Inside the hall, there are about fifty different food vendors to choose from. I walked the hall twice just to take in all the options. I couldn't resist ordering a lobster roll for lunch. Eating fresh seafood in New England = winning!
Boston Common is Boston's version of Central Park. There are a few shady characters who loiter at certain spots, but that's every park I suppose.
wide open spaces
The Boston Common Frog Pond
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
restoration hardware on berkeley street
beantown at night
old south church
The area around Boylston Street, Newbury Street. and Commonwealth Avenue is very posh. The brownstone buildings are beautiful and the high-end boutiques are plentiful.
holiday lights on commonwealth avenue
rainy streets of back bay
Boston Public Library
fort point channel
bridge on summer street
a slice of south boston
The sights and smells of Chinatown made me want to stop for dim sum!
bedford street x kingston street
I'm already planning a return visit to Boston sometime in the spring or summer. I still need to visit and experience a baseball game at Fenway.
A great idea to an epic New England vacation is visiting Maine after spending a few nights in Boston. The driving distance between Boston and Portland is about 2 hours. From there, there are endless possibilities to explore the state's endless rocky coastlines and eat as much fresh seafood as you want.
Take my advice and visit Beantown when you have a chance, even if you only have a few days!