Encore Boston Harbor Review – Shiny, New(ish), and a Bit Surreal

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Location
Room
Amenities
Service

Quick Take

The younger sister of the Encore Las Vegas, the Encore Boston Harbor offers the expected room and amenities with average customer service. Boston visitors focused on convenience will probably want to look elsewhere.
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Encore Boston Harbor Review

Encore Boston Harbor Review

When I think of lodging options in Boston, a Vegas-style resort isn’t the first thing that crosses my mind.  But a combination of factors led me to consider and ultimately select Encore Boston Harbor for a recent one night stay.  My timeframe wasn’t flexible as I had already purchased my ticket for the Sigur Ros show at the Wang Theatre.  Of course, Game 3 of the NBA Finals was the same night; points hotels downtown were virtually unavailable.  Cash prices most everywhere started in the $400s.  But Encore Boston Harbor, on the outskirts of downtown, was available via Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts.  I could leverage my Amex Platinum FHR credit, plus compare a stay here to the excellent one I had at the Encore Las Vegas.  The stars aligned for this stay.  Here’s my Encore Boston Harbor review.

Booking

I booked my Encore Boston Harbor stay via Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program and leveraged a Platinum $200 FHR credit for the stay.  The room rate was $450, plus $53 in taxes for a $503 total.  There was no resort fee.  My out of pocket expense was $303, not including gratuities.  I leveraged my cash back rewards to cover the rate overage and tips. I’ll step through all the FHR credit specifics at Encore Boston Harbor in a future article.

Location

Encore Boston Harbor’s location has quite a history.  Set alongside the Mystic River in Everett, the Encore opened in 2019 and is a next door neighbor to a variety of industrial businesses.  I found the juxtaposition of this opulent property amidst drab grays surrounding it equal parts jarring and surreal.  The location is definitely unique but not exactly convenient to anything.  Pedestrian options are almost nonexistent beyond the Harborwalk (more on that later).  On the flip side, getting anywhere is a relatively cheap Uber ride away.  Uber rides from the airport and to downtown floated around $20 most of the time, although I paid about $45 after the concert and just before the basketball game ended.  And of course, many consider this a destination property, and access to anything beyond the resort may be unnecessary to some.  Still, the resort’s immediate surroundings aren’t exactly tourist-friendly.

Check-In

I arrived at Encore Boston Harbor at about 1 pm, and I was immediately greeted at registration.  The front desk is adjacent to the flowery lobby, a boilerplate feature by Wynn and Encore standards.  Check-in was satisfactory but clearly less refined than at Encore Las Vegas.  The bubbly front desk agent greeted me and was able to immediately provide a room.  She acknowledged the Fine Hotels & Resorts stay and provided a sheet with the related benefits.

After stepping through the FHR particulars, the agent stated that due to the hotel being booked to capacity, a room upgrade and late checkout weren’t possible.  I politely mentioned the guaranteed 4 pm late checkout, pointing to the benefit on the sheet she had just handed me.  She then made a quick call, hung up, and asked me if I needed help with my bags.  Since the agent hadn’t clarified late checkout, I asked if I was guaranteed a 4 pm checkout time.  She answered that I did, indeed, have a 4 pm late checkout.  (More on this later.)  I thanked her and proceeded to the guest elevators.

Room

I received an Encore Premier Double room on the ninth floor, measuring approximately 650 square feet.  The room’s colors and decor largely match those of her Vegas sister – understated browns and creams throughout.  This basic room provided plenty of space in the foyer, bathroom, and bedroom areas, plus the largest mirror I’ve ever seen in a hotel room.

As advertised, the room sports two double size beds.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen double beds in a domestic hotel room, much less a luxury property.  And there was plenty of room for two queen size beds.  No matter – the beds were plenty comfy.  Room technology was similar to, and in some cases, exceeded, the Vegas Encore.  Guests control all lighting, drapery, and privacy functions via touch buttons throughout the room.  Also, visitors can use the iPad near the bedside to control the television, room service, and other room functions.  I’m not interested in another reason to look at a screen, but many will love the iPad.

Interestingly, the room lacks a lounge chair.  The bedroom is limited to the desk chair and two small, basic seats next to the cabinet holding the minibar and drawers.  This exclusion struck me as odd for this luxury property.

Bathroom

The bathroom was spacious, with a similar layout to the Vegas Encore.  Separate shower and tub are perpendicular to the dual vanity.  A makeup area with a cushioned chair, nicer than the ones in the bedroom, is located between the sinks.  The toilet is behind a door on the other side of the vanity.  Fresh, soft robes are hung behind the main bathroom door.  The closet just outside the bathroom is very spacious and offers slippers and umbrella.

Amenities

Dining and Drinking

Guests have access to a variety of dining options on-property.  After settling into my room, I went downstairs to find lunch.  Most all dining options are adjacent to the vast casino area.  I opted chose the On Deck sports bar for my late lunch.  The pulled pork sandwich was fine but nothing remarkable to this barbecue snob.  I did enjoy the cole slaw and fried onions on the sandwich – a pleasing crunch along with the savory pork.  I found the Maine Beer Company’s “Lunch” IPA an appropriate companion and wasn’t disappointed.

Based on my Vegas Encore experience, I made an advance reservation for breakfast the next morning at The Garden Cafe.  I’m glad I did.  While breakfast walk-ins are permitted, queues there were long.  After checking in, I was immediately shown to my table.  I went with the steak and eggs again, primarily to compare to my Jardin experience in Vegas.  I ordered the steak medium, but about a quarter into the steak, I found it a bit more on the rare side.  Upon mentioning this to my server, he resolved the matter – very thoroughly, it turns out.  Not only did I get a new steak, I got the entire breakfast again.  Of course, I couldn’t eat two breakfasts, but I was still sad to see the food go to waste.

Other Dining and Drinking Options

Encore Boston Harbor has many more dining options.  Visitors can enjoy Italian, steak, and Asian options at Fratelli, Rare, Red 8, and Mystique, respectively.  Night Shift Brewing Kitchen & Tap and Cheese Meets Wine are other options adjacent to the shopping arcade.  Unfortunately, many of these establishments operate on limited schedules.  Some are open only a few days a week or have limited hours, or both!  In particular, I’m disappointed I missed out on Red 8 and Night Shift.  The property also has a great variety of quick, cheaper options like Shake Shack, Dunkin’, and Frank & Nick’s.  Late night options were extremely limited on the Wednesday night I stayed.  Only Shake Shack and Frank & Nick’s were open until midnight.  Night owls are stuck with room service, something I didn’t bother pursuing.  Vegas, this is not.

Encore Boston Harbor Review

Casino

I’m not a traditional gambler, and I don’t have much casino experience beyond where I’ve visited in Vegas.  But the Encore Boston Harbor is the largest casino floor I’ve ever seen.  It feels like that, at least.  The sprawling casino floor has high ceilings throughout, and a second floor of the casino primarily caters to high limit gaming.  The Boston Harbor property seems even more focused on gambling than her Vegas sister.

Spa, Salon, and Fitness Center

Guests can conveniently access the spa, salon, and fitness center (all on the same level) from the room elevators.  While I didn’t use the spa, it was consistently well-staffed; at least three attendants were there whenever I passed by.  In addition to the spa, the full-service salon is handy for anyone looking to pay more than normal for such services.  I enjoyed using the spacious, naturally bright fitness center on two occasions.  Encore Boston Harbor has newer cardio equipment with high definition screens but seemingly less weight training options than her Vegas sister.

Harborwalk

One distinctive amenity I enjoyed at the property is Harborwalk.  Just outside of the hotel’s entrance, visitors can enjoy the six-acre park area along the shoreline.  The lawns and gardens were immaculate throughout.  I couldn’t help but notice all of the moneymaking spaces and overlooks for weddings, receptions, and business functions.  Regardless, it all looked great.  Visitors can also rent bikes along Harborwalk.

Shopping

Encore Boston Harbor has a smaller, sleepier shopping arcade than the Vegas Encore.  Visitors can shop at the Drugstore, Wynn Collection, Wynn Gifts, Wynn Sports, and Watches of Switzerland.

Nightclub

Memoire is open Friday through Sunday, 10 pm to 2 am.

Encore Boston Harbor Review

Service

Overall, I found the service at Encore Boston Harbor adequate but clearly inferior to what I experienced at Encore Las Vegas, a stay that costs about half as much.  My check-in agent was nice enough, but clearly on autopilot, as she mentioned stay limitations that didn’t apply to my situation.  Also, despite the 4 pm checkout the agent ultimately assured, I was somehow automatically checked out at around 2 pm the next day.  I only realized this when I was unable to charge a snack to my room around that time.  The front desk subsequently resolved the matter, but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Service at restaurants was attentive, but I can’t ignore the Garden Cafe kitchen’s cooking oversight.  It worked out fine, as I wasn’t on a tight schedule that morning, but breakfast lasted 30 minutes longer than it needed to.  Waitstaff service was excellent throughout my dining experiences, though.

I had minimal interaction with housekeeping, but the little I had was unexpected.  Despite the privacy notice displayed outside my room’s door, housekeeping knocked just after 12 noon while I was in the tub.  Shouting “occupied” apparently did what the privacy notification at my door could not.

The Vegas Encore’s personalized touch hasn’t translated to Encore Boston Harbor.  I definitely felt like just another guest being processed at the Boston property in comparison to the personal touches I received during the Vegas stay.

Encore Boston Harbor Review

Encore Boston Harbor Review – Conclusion

I enjoyed my stay at Encore Boston Harbor but have no plans to return.  With a nightly rate of around $500, I went into this stay thinking it would be a one-time experience.  While the property delivered enough on all fronts for a pleasurable stay, nothing stood out enough for me to pay this much again.  And that’s fine – I’m not exactly their target demographic, anyway.  Non-gamblers visiting Boston can clearly do better staying downtown.  And anyone can get better value and a comparable or better experience at the Encore Las Vegas.  Plus, this luxurious property dropped into an industrial area along the Mystic River is simultaneously unique and odd.  I’m still not sure what I think about that.  Amenities and service are replicable elsewhere.  I suspect that most will accurately judge the Encore Boston Harbor book by its cover.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

11 COMMENTS

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11 COMMENTS

  1. “their staff always they look mad” . . . typical Bostonians. I’ve lived here since birth, more than half a century . . . angry, hard, cold faces . . . and we think we’re the “hub of the universe,” light years away.

  2. This by far the worst casino in whole world it’s awful , honestly I go to gamble , and I’ve never win anything , always loosing , and you don’t feel welcome. Their staff always they look mad , and every times I asked for like drink soda they don’t bring it to you , bcz they want to order alcohol , it’s awfully place , oh staying at that hotel. No thank you. Even if it free ,.

  3. Great review. Your room did look smaller than the standard king I’ve stayed in, which has an additional table and two chairs.

    All of the room can also be controlled with Alexa, just an FYI.

    On weekends, there is an Encore water taxi from Seaport, which is pretty convenient to walk over from South Station.

    • Yeah that’s a good point, I’ve stayed twice and the time I stayed in a standard king room, it was a considerably larger room.

  4. As an employee of Encore, I can safely say the only restaurant that’s a standout on the property is Cheese Meat Wine, great little spot for dinner with a loved one.

    Rest of the restaurants, yea, overpriced, same with the casino floor. Most table games, even on the main floor are 20$ or more. Biggest issue is that several of the restaurants are inaccessible to families with kids, because they are attached to the casino floor and for whatever reason, they refuse to let security escort younger guests to those restaurants (it affects Red8 and Fratelli’s at least.) It’s just too unfriendly to kids. Can’t really comment on the hotel stuff, I’ve never interacted with that department.

  5. As a local, Encore is a bit of a disappointment. I was looking forward to a Vegas style hotel that you could slip away for a weekend. Being outside of the city was actually a benefit for me since I figured it meant less tourists. However once this hotel was built I was honestly quite disappointed. First off there is no pool? Many smaller Boston Hotels offer an indoor pool, which in the winter time, is a great weekend escape for locals. Second there is no entertainment venue. This I’m sure was a compromise to get the hotel built as it’s construction faced a lot of pushback form local special interest. I was counting on Encore to provide a medium to large sized venue, more in line with what can be found in Foxwoods. Most comedy clubs and music venues in Boston are relatively small. Larger ones can be found outside the city but really it’s maybe 1,000 seat or less venues or the arena (TD Garden). Something in-between would have fit really well and would have again made local trip to Encore worth it.

    As a visitor coming to the city, i would never recommend Encore. It’s situated far away from everything you would want to see & do in the city. It’s wayyyy overpriced for what it offers onsite and even it’s casino is really geared towards higher waged gamblers vs the casual ones. In Vegas this location with it’s prices would be acceptable, even in Atlantic City it may not feel too out of place. However in Boston, it’s advertised as a luxury destination spot and it just isn’t. It fails time and time again.

    Coming to Boston? Unless you plan on only gambling, stay at one of the 4/5 star hotels in the city. In the end it will be cheaper, nicer, offer more and be close to everything. Want to spend a few hours in a casino – Uber over to Encore, just don’t stay there.

  6. Uber’ed here on 6-22 after dinner at MamaMarie’s (Excellent). Arrived about 10:00pm. Not LV but still nice to have a gambling option when in Boston. Classy layout. Saw ‘big Poppy’ there playing $500 a hand blackjack.
    WkA

  7. Good review. I’m not sure I would stay if the rates were that high… I’ve stayed twice when the rates were around $250-$290, which is a good deal after the FHR $200 off promo. Red 8 is indeed a really good restaurant, and I had more than my share of Shake Shack while staying there. Overall it’s an enjoyable hotel but only with a good discount.

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