The Boston Park Plaza has been sold: It’s now a Hilton

Real Estate

The Park Plaza’s previous owner said the hotel will likely need significant investment to keep its competitive edge following a $100 million renovation in 2016.

The Boston Park Plaza is now under the Hilton brand following a recent sale. David L. Ryan/Boston Globe Staff, File

Nearly 70 years after legendary hotelier Conrad Hilton first staked his claim in the Back Bay with the purchase of the Boston Park Plaza, the historic property is officially back under the Hilton brand. 

  • A Boston hotel was the most booked on TripAdvisor in 2017

  • Sunstone Hotel to buy Boston Park Plaza for $250m

The 1,060-room hotel recently sold to Mexican hotel developer and Hilton franchisee Parks Hospitality Holdings for $370 million, or about $350,000 per room. Its previous owner, Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc., acquired the Park Plaza in 2013 and oversaw a $100 million makeover that reinvigorated what was then an aging hotel desperately in need of a facelift. 

The Park Plaza has changed hands several times over the years, becoming the Statler Hilton following Conrad Hilton’s purchase in 1954, then The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers when the Saunders family took ownership in the 1970s.

Following its recent sale, the hotel will now be known as the Hilton Boston Park Plaza.

“We are delighted to welcome back one of our first Boston properties, Hilton Boston Park Plaza, to the Hilton family,” Danny Hughes, Hilton’s president of the Americas, said in a Tuesday news release. “The hotel’s exceptional location in the heart of the city, coupled with the property’s friendly service and thoughtful amenities, offer the perfect homebase for every traveler and any occasion.” 

Keeping up the old-world charm

Opened in 1927 as the Statler Hotel, the Park Plaza was the largest hotel in New England and the first in the country to offer in-room radios, The Boston Globe reported in 2015. Oozing opulence and old-school grandeur, the hotel was a favorite of the powerful and the prominent, from Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy to stars Katherine Hepburn and Judy Garland. 

By the mid-2010s, however, the hotel had fallen to the bottom of Tripadvisor’s Boston hotel rankings, descending into a “hotel hell” of peeling wallpaper, cigarette-holed blankets, and faulty air conditioning, according to the Globe.

A 2016 renovation restored the hotel’s old-world charm and breathed new life into the property, which has since climbed back up the Tripadvisor rankings.

The bar at the historic Boston Park Plaza hotel following a $100 million renovation in 2016. – Lane Turner/Boston Globe Staff, File

Today, the Park Plaza’s Grand Ballroom remains the standard of ornate elegance — picture balconies outlined in gold and chandeliers dripping with Baccarat crystals — but the hotel also offers guests more “non-traditional” venue options like Avenue 34 and The Square, which Hilton describes as “tasteful industrial chic.” 

In a press release announcing the recent sale, however, Sunstone suggested that another facelift might be necessary sometime soon.

“Based on the timing of the prior renovation, the Company anticipates that the Hotel will require significant additional investment to maintain its competitive position and sustain its current level of earnings,” Sunstone said last week. 

Neither Hilton nor Parks Hospitality Holdings have indicated whether another makeover is in the cards for the Park Plaza, though Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand leader Leonard Gooz said in a statement that the chain is excited to welcome visitors back to the iconic hotel. 

“We look forward to honoring the hotel’s legacy and serving as a destination for the next generation of travelers, galas and events for years to come,” he said.