BOSTON -- The first thing my 9-year-old son did upon entering our room at the Hotel Commonwealth was run to the window, from which there was an unobstructed view of Fenway Park.
As any baseball fan knows, Fenway is the home of the Boston Red Sox, and, built in 1912, the oldest Major League Baseball stadium. It is itself a top-visited destination in Boston and, for baseball fans, a mecca of sorts.
The Commonwealth, just minutes away from Fenway, is the official hotel of the Boston Red Sox, a designation it takes very seriously.
The lobby has a Red Sox memorabilia display, and a good percentage of the rooms face Fenway, including our Fenway double. Our stay coincided with the summer David Ortiz, better known as Big Papi and among the most-loved Red Sox players of all time, was being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. A lobby display featured several pieces of exclusive Big Papi memorabilia.
Fans will want to stay in one of the hotel's two suites dedicated to America's pastime. The 700-square-foot Fenway Park Suite features original ballpark seats on its terrace, where a baseball mitt is on hand should a homer get close. Inside, the room has a collection of Red Sox memorabilia curated in partnership with the team. They include a signed baseball and vintage baseball cards of Ted Williams and other Red Sox legends.
The Baseball Suite is more team agnostic. The 600-square-foot suite is decorated in vintage baseball style with memorabilia, a trading card collection and a library of more than 40 baseball movies.
The Fenway Park suite at Boston's Hotel Commonwealth. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Hotel Commonwealth
The Commonwealth also offers exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime Red Sox experiences such as private knuckleball pitch lessons with Red Sox legend Tim Wakefield or the Manager for a Day experience that includes meeting Red Sox manager Alex Cora. More standard packages include hotel accommodations, game tickets, welcome messages on the scoreboard and, for kids, visits from team mascots Wally and Tessie. Seats atop the famed Green Monster wall and VIP pregame access to the warning track and up-close views of batting practice are also available.
Adam Sperling, general manager of the Commonwealth for the past 15 years, said he approached the Red Sox in 2014 and found out that being the team's official hotel was available. One of the reasons he was interested initially was that the hotel had recently expanded from 150 to 245 rooms. Sperling saw an opportunity to tap into the team's databases of a more than a million people.
"Red Sox Nation, as they call it," he said. "Along the way came tickets for packages and other exclusive experiences. They've just been great marketing partners. So we've just stayed with it and expanded it. It's been tremendous and has really become rolled into our DNA."
Hotel guests may also bump into a future Red Sox star. Sperling said that in addition to being great partners, the Red Sox are great customers, putting up players that come up and down from the minor leagues at the property.
The Red Sox are a significant part of the Commonwealth's mission to "plug into what we think are all things Boston."
"We're really an independent hotel; we're not affiliated in any way with any brands, so we really feel almost an obligation to sort of be that go-to local, authentic hotel," Sperling said.
The Boston connection is everywhere you look at the Commonwealth, from the wall of Boston terrier pictures in the lobby to hallway art of iconic Boston scenes like the Marathon (the hotel is one mile from the finish line) and tall ships in the harbor.
And local experiences go beyond baseball. The hotel partnered with Community Rowing Inc. to offer guests rowing experiences on the Charles River, which is home of the largest rowing regatta in the world.
"If you're thinking iconic experiences in Boston, rowing on the Charles is just a very Boston thing, but people can't really do that, or at least they don't know how to do that," Sperling said. "We can bring that to people, which we think is amazing."