Grit And Grace: A Night in The Rat Suite [gallery]

terry gardner the rat suite
Written by Terry Gardner

Terry Gardner decided to immortalize her stay in The Rat Suite with these selfies. The pricey room tributes a grungy Boston punk bar, The Rathskeller …

aNewDomainterry-gardner-anewdomain — Recently I stayed at Boston’s Hotel Commonwealth, which takes pride in paying homage to Boston with a few signature suites. I had hoped to slide into home plate in the baseball suite since I flew in to catch a Red Sox game.

But other guests were rounding the bases when I arrived, so I wound up next door to the Baseball Suite.  I took a peek at the suite before I checked out and didn’t see Mike Napoli or the home plate I had imagined. Instead, I found a cozy, homey suite filled with all kinds of valuable curated baseball memorabilia.

So I ended up staying in the Rat Suite, which is a tribute to an iconic Boston punk bar, now closed, called “The Rathskeller.  I wasn’t familiar with “The Rat,” so I thought it was just another pretty room.  I later learned from my editor that The Rat wasn’t pretty at all — unless you like looking at vomit on the floor. The fact that housekeeping maintained my room so well made it more “The UnRat,” but I loved the fun vibe of the Suite.


The memory of The Rat lives on here, full of punk and alternative music memorabilia that was hand curated by a former manager of the bar.

So, after a few drinks on my last night, I decided to immortalize my stay with the video below and load up on some selfies. For the selfies, I used my Olympus camera and its built-in selfie setting, using a two-minute delay.

A stay in the two-room Rat Suite at Kenmore Square’s Commonwealth Hotel will set you back to the tune of $500 to $900 a night, depending on the season.


Here’s how the hotel markets this pricey, theme-based room:

Grit meets grace in The Rathskeller Suite, an upscale retro room that pays homage to Kenmore Square’s iconic past and the underground music venue known as “The Rat.” Boldly reinterpreting Rock ’n’ Roll inspirations with an eye toward luxury, this one-bedroom, comfort-driven suite features a suitably eclectic mix of materials, textures and memorabilia as well as custom furniture informed by a ‘band on tour’ aesthetic. Sink into an enormous L-shaped sofa, surrounded by they-played-the-Rat music memorabilia and sound compliments of a state of the art Bose sound system. Artfully rendered in black, grey and silver, The Rathskeller Suite provides you and your crew throwback style on the hallowed ground that was home to the original and incomparable ‘Rat.’ ” Read more of this here.

First, here’s a shot of the room, courtesy of hotel publicity.

terry gardner the rat suite

The room had this old paint-splashed sign, which I think used to be in the mosh pit. Or close.


There’a s guitar in the room. I don’t think you are really supposed to play the guitar, but it is real.

the rat suite boston commonwealth hotel

There is a non-working synthesizer/piano in the room. The old, duct-taped keyboard reportedly used to belong to Willie “Loco” Alexander, says an excellent piece from The Boston Globe. But I couldn’t find a way to grab a selfie near it.
the rat suite audio cables
The Rat really was legendary. A long list of famous — and infamous — punk bands from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s got their start there. Check out this video documentary on The Rat to get a real feeling for it.

the rat room boston commonwealth hotel

And that’s all there is to it. The significance of a backwards peace sign isn’t entirely lost on me.

The Rat is dead. Long live The Rat.



the rat room boston commonwealth hotel

For aNewDomain, I’m Terry Gardner.

Cover image: The Boston Globe, All Rights Reserved

Selfies and video: Terry Gardner for aNewDomain

Keyboard from the original Rat: The Boston Globe, All Rights Reserved.

Publicity shots of The Rat Suite: The Commonwealth Hotel