Community, Features

Once under BU ownership, Hotel Commonwealth still linked with university

Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square along Commonwealth Avenue, which used to be owned by Boston University. CONNYR LU/ DFP STAFF

Amidst the rows and floors of hotel rooms in Hotel Commonwealth, one suite stands out. Guests who book the “Terrier Suite” enter into a room decorated with pictures of alumni and BU’s mascot, the Boston terrier.

Hotel Commonwealth, located at the eastern edge of Kenmore Square along Commonwealth Avenue, used to be owned by Boston University. The university sold Hotel Commonwealth in 2012 to the Denver-based real estate company Sage Hospitality and investment firm Fundamental Advisors LP for $79 million, according to BU Today.

The hotel has 245 guest rooms and suites, according to its website, and is the official hotel of the Boston Red Sox.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley said the university invested in Hotel Commonwealth to help improve Kenmore Square and create a place for people to stay in the area.

“We were doing it really to improve the Kenmore Square area, and one thing that was seriously lacking was quality lodging,” Riley said. “So with some partners, we developed that property into Hotel Commonwealth, and shortly thereafter were able to recoup our investment through the sale.”

The university still owns the property on which the hotel sits, Riley added.

Adam Sperling, Hotel Commonwealth’s general manager, said the “Terrier Suite” was inspired by the property’s proximity to the BU campus — though it was not created because of the university’s ownership.

“BU did own the hotel at the time we created the Terrier Suite, but it really is more of a reflection that BU is obviously right out of our door, we’re almost on BU’s campus as you know,” Sperling said.

Sperling said the “Terrier Suite” is a unique place to stay for people who visit BU’s campus.

“A number of people, either associated with the university or coming to visit the university or people that have children at the university, stay here,” Sperling said. “So we just thought it would be something that a good percentage of our guest population would enjoy and something that’s very different than the typical hotel room.”

Redevelopment is underway for nine buildings on the north side of Kenmore Square across from Hotel Commonwealth as part of a 2016 sale BU made to developer Related Beal for 310,000 square feet of commercial space. In addition, a 300-foot hotel tower and surrounding plaza has been proposed for the western corner of the square.

Riley said new developments in Kenmore Square will be beneficial for Hotel Commonwealth, as well as for BU, as they will attract people to live in, work in and visit the area.

“I think they’ll only benefit because ultimately you’ll have a very busy office and retail environment, with retail and commercial development on the north side,” he said.

Hotel Commonwealth and BU partner to offer special rates to some university guests, Sperling said.

“We have negotiated rates with the university, which is when the university is actually paying for somebody to be here,” Sperling said. “But if you’re coming to visit the university, then you would pay whatever the prevailing rate is.”

Commencement in May is one of the most popular times for university guests to book stays at Hotel Commonwealth, Riley said, noting that bookings around this time can get very competitive.

“They know that BU’s commencement is the largest in New England and that there’s a lot of competition, and many people book as early as possible if they plan on coming in for the daughter or son’s graduation, or another family member,” Riley said. “And it’s a usually fully booked weekend.”

Lauren Cooper, a sophomore in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said her family will stay in a hotel outside Boston when they visit because prices in the city are high.

“My family and I always get a hotel in Newton because it’s cheaper outside of the city,” Cooper said. “So I’ve never actually tried to get a hotel in the city.”

Keith Lovett, a senior in CAS, said he thinks that as BU is a large school, it is important there are hotels near campus to house guests for important events during the school year.

“I think whereas BU is such a large school, it’s good for families to be able to visit, especially in key times, like during the graduation ceremonies,” Lovett said.

Stephanie Molano, a junior in the College of Communication, said her family has stayed in an Airbnb instead of a hotel in the past because it was more convenient for them.

“It was more convenient, it was cheaper, closer,” Molano said. “A lot of the hotels around here are extremely expensive.”

Mia Cathell contributed to the reporting of this article.

One Comment

  1. > But if you’re coming to visit the university, then you would pay whatever the prevailing rate is.

    FYI according to BU alumni discounts are available at Hotel Commonwealth.