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Old 12-26-2009, 03:11 PM   #1
ablarc
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Boston Hotels

Some European friends are coming to visit. Knowing how long I?d lived in Boston, they asked me for hotel recommendations. I didn?t know their intended price range, so I included a pretty complete spectrum. Some of these hotels I?ve stayed at; for the others I did a little research on Tripadvisor and the hotels? websites --including a few selections that just opened this month. Nothing like a new hotel: squeaky clean with low, introductory prices.

A hotel room is just a place to lay your head if you?re determined to be indifferent to your surroundings. Seasoned travelers, however, know that it?s central to the travel experience, whatever you may pay. And even more important are the hotel?s immediate environs; you want to come back to a warm and welcoming place in a pleasant area.

Within price categories, establishments are listed in roughly descending order of both price and desirability. Hotel prices are generally down; good for the traveler.

Roughly:

$$$$ 400+
$$$ 300-399
$$ 240-299
$ 100-239



BOSTON HOTELS


$$$$ Boston Harbor.
Number Three in Tripadvisor?s rankings. Located on Rowe?s Wharf, the hotel is best reached from the airport by water taxi; its huge archway will strike you from the water as the city?s gate. Almost like a self-contained resort, this luxurious hotel features harbor and skyscraper views, and it?s near the Greenway, Financial District, Aquarium, Long Wharf, Quincy Market, the Freedom Trail, Post Office Square and Downtown shopping. D?cor is upmarket but not thrilling; the restaurant is pricey; and the bar has a big selection of Scotches. Water taxi service to points across the harbor.T: Aquarium, South Station (a bit of a walk).

$$$$ Mandarin Oriental. Lavish materials, big and luxurious rooms, and high prices. The hotel?s Back Bay location could not possibly be better; the hotel connects to the Prudential and Copley Place shopping malls, the Prudential Skywalk and the Hynes Convention Center, and it?s just a block to Newbury Street, the city?s best shopping. Also nearby are Copley Square, the Public Library, Trinity Church, the Christian Science Center, Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall (chamber music), the Berklee Performance Center (jazz), the Duckboat Tours and the South End with its quiet streets, arts venues and cornucopia of restaurants. T: Copley, Hynes.

$$$ Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel is brand new, Number Two in Tripadvisor?s ratings, and situated on a pier overlooking the harbor; the views are splendid. Very near the Italian North End with its famous restaurants and medieval labyrinth of narrow streets, but a bit of a hike to the subway. Arrive by water taxi from the airport; it will bring you directly to the hotel?s wharf. The Markets, the Freedom Trail, City Hall, the Greenway, the Aquarium and The TD Banknorth Garden (basketball, hockey, rock concerts) are all fairly near. Consider using the water taxi to access points around the harbor; the concierge will arrange it. T: Haymarket, Aquarium.

$$$ Fairmont Copley Plaza is grand, slightly faded and historic (1912). The rooms vary in quality, so ask to see yours before you pay and if you don?t like it, ask for another. Smack-dab on Copley Square, along with the even grander Public Library and Richardson?s Trinity Church. Back Bay, Newbury St. with its chic shops, and the South End with its restaurants are all a short walk, and so is the Copley Place/Prudential Mall, the Prudential skywalk, the Christian Science Center, Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall (chamber music), the Berklee Performance Center, and several theatre companies. Take a cab from the airport. T: Copley, Back Bay.

$$$ Marriott?s Custom House occupies a beautiful antique skyscraper (base, 1837; tower, 1915). Ask for a high floor, so you can take advantage of the views. Near Quincy Market, Durgin-Park?s landmark restaurant frozen in time, the Aquarium, Long Wharf and the Waterfront, the Financial District, City Hall, the Freedom Trail, Downtown and numerous bars. Rooms come with separate living room/kitchenettes, but the fairly standard d?cor doesn?t match the hotel?s gorgeous exterior, and the thrilling 26th floor observation deck (ask at the desk; don?t miss it). The Blue Line subway from the airport lets you off just outside the hotel?s door. T: Aquarium.

$$ W Hotel. Slick modernity in the somewhat frayed Theatre District. The great bar features young things in miniskirts. The immediate area is neither fish nor fowl, though you might be charmed by Bay Village, a tiny enclave of Federal townhouses (ask concierge for directions). The Public Garden and Common, Tufts Medical Center, Chinatown, Newbury Street?s ritzy shops, and Downtown?s now-meager retail district are also close by, as well as remnants of the Combat Zone sin district. Jacob Wirth is an ancient (1868), barely-German restaurant past its heyday but somewhat atmospheric. T: Boylston, NE Medical Center, Chinatown.

$$ Ames Hotel. Boston?s newest inn occupies one of its oldest skyscrapers; from 1893 to 1915, this Richardsonian Romanesque office tower was the city?s tallest. The Morgan Group?s cutting edge d?cor blends with elaborate artworks from the building?s past. You can?t get more downtown than right here; Quincy Market, City Hall, the Old State House, Downtown shopping, the Financial District, and Beacon Hill are all just steps away, while the Freedom Trail is just outside the door. This being a new hotel, you can shop for room discounts. The Blue Line from the airport brings you to the hotel?s door. T: State (Blue Line), Government Center.

$$ Back Bay. Number Six in Tripadvisor?s rankings. Previously Jury?s Hotel, this former police station comes with a spectacular lobby and fine rooms. It?s close to Downtown, the Theatre District, Copley Square, Back Bay, Newbury Street with its chic shops, and the South End with its restaurants and live theatre. The hotel?s immediate area is a bit dead, since it?s basically a business district. Don?t miss Trinity Church and the fabulous Public Library, both on nearby Copley Square. (Farmers Market, Tu & Fr, 10-6). If you?re arriving by train from New York, get off at Back Bay Station; the hotel is a three-block walk. T: Arlington, Back Bay, Copley.

$$ Lenox comes in at Number One in Tripadvisor?s ratings. This old fashioned hostelry might strike some as overstuffed, but at least it?s the genuine article, and well-kept. It provides a measure of old-fashioned elegance near Copley Square, Copley Place and Prudential Malls, the Hynes Convention Center, numerous restaurants and Newbury Street?s posh shopping. Right next door to the magnificent Public Library (be sure you see the old part), and easy access to Back Bay?s beautiful streets and riverfront. Courteous service. In cool weather, get a room with a fireplace; they?ll light the fire for you. Half a block to the subway. T: Copley.

$$ Inn at St. Botolph is a small, snazzily modern hotel in a turreted town house on a quiet South End street. It?s near the Prudential Center and Mall, which lead to the Hynes Convention Center, Back Bay, and Newbury Street?s chic shops; Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall (chamber music) and the Berklee Performance Center (jazz). Your room?s kitchenette will allow you to economize at the two supermarkets in walking distance, including a Whole Foods, but you might instead choose to splurge at some of the South End?s many marvelous restaurants --or the ones on Huntington Avenue. A short subway/streetcar ride to the Museum of Fine Arts. T: Prudential

$$ Marriott Cambridge. Just across the Charles River in Cambridge, this is a high-rise hotel with fairly standard rooms. Not so standard are the Starbuck?s in the lobby, the food court next door, MIT across the street, and the on-premises subway station (2 stops to Harvard Square, 2 stops to Downtown Boston [Park St]). A few steps up the street, Legal Seafood (a restaurant) completes a pleasant little oasis of urbanity in an office-park desert. Though in Cambridge, this hotel is equally good for visiting Boston. Ask for a high-floor room facing the Boston skyline for a fabulous view. T: Kendall (an easy two changes of train from the Airport).

$$ Inn at Harvard, Cambridge. Somewhat better-than-average rooms surround a huge and slightly cold atrium in which huddles a so-so and pricey restaurant. The location, however, can?t be beat: in Harvard Square and next to the University (ask for a room facing the Square). The best feature is that during your stay you get a temporary Harvard Faculty Club membership, which entitles you to a pretty good meal less than a block away, in world class company and surroundings. Harvard Square is famously 11 minutes by subway to downtown Boston, but truth is, Harvard has a better downtown than Boston: better shops, better street life. T: Harvard.

$ Clarendon Square Inn. Tastefully furnished by its friendly proprietors, this stately South End house blends with its bowfront street to transport you to the Victorian era. You?ll live like a local in one of Boston?s nicest old neighborhoods. Number Three in Tripadvisor?s Bed and Breakfast listings, the inn is close to Copley Square, Newbury Street, the Prudential and Copley Place malls, the Hynes Convention Center, Symphony and Jordan Halls, and the Christian Science Center. But best of all is the neighborhood itself: a quiet harmony of rowhouses with many great restaurants, galleries and an occasional playhouse. T: Back Bay, Prudential.

$ Encore Bed and Breakfast. Rated Number One in Tripadvisor?s Bed and Breakfast listings, this is another townhouse on a beautiful South End street. The Encore?s proprietors lean towards the exposed brick and modern furniture school, with colorful results. Near Symphony and Jordan Halls, the Berklee Performance Center, the Prudential and Copley Place malls, the Christian Science Center, the Hynes Convention Center, and numerous restaurants in surroundings of great beauty. Some small squares in the area may remind you of London. Subway access to all points, or walk till you drop in the country?s largest historic district. T: Back Bay

$ Aisling Bed and Breakfast. Number Two in Tripadvisor?s Bed and Breakfast listings. Though in the South End, this is somewhat in the wilds: not really convenient to the subway; you?ll have to take the Silver Line bus into Downtown or the Massachusetts Avenue bus to Harvard Square. To more than compensate, the hosts are great conversationalists, and the breakfast is exceptional. They?ll usually pick you up at the airport; and if you arrive by car, there?s free parking. The Boston Medical Center is walking distance, as are some of the South End?s handsome squares. Nicely furnished rooms with mostly Victorian furniture. T: Silver Line bus.

$ John Jeffries House is Boston?s economy champion, where Beacon Hill meets the Charles River Esplanade. This clean inn delivers no-frills rooms in what was once a nurses? dormitory. You?ll find easy access to scenic Beacon Hill and its charming shops on Charles Street, and Mass. General Hospital. Very close by, the Red Line subway extends your range to Downtown Boston, MIT, Harvard Square and under-appreciated Central Square. Charles Street is well-stocked with restaurants --or budget-stretching food stores if you choose to make use of the hotel?s in-room kitchenettes. Slick bar in Liberty Hotel nearby. Good value. T: Charles/MGH
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Old 12-26-2009, 10:05 PM   #2
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Re: Boston Hotels

Quote:
A hotel room is just a place to lay your head if you?re determined to be indifferent to your surroundings.
Or if you're intending to spend almost all non-sleeping hours outside of the hotel room.

One thing a tourist should know about the Battery Wharf hotel -- it's as far away from the subway as one can be in central Boston. About a 10-minute walk to Haymarket or Aquarium or North Station.

Quote:
If you?re arriving by train from New York, get off at Back Bay Station
Good advice for all of the Back Bay, Copley, and South End hotels, not just for that particular hotel. You can actually walk indoors all the way from Back Bay station to the Mandarin Oriental hotel.

I expected to see the Charles Hotel in Cambridge and the Parker House on your list. Do you have any opinion of these, good or bad?

Last edited by Ron Newman; 12-26-2009 at 10:31 PM.
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Old 12-27-2009, 12:58 AM   #3
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Re: Boston Hotels

No Nine Zero or Liberty hotels?
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Old 12-27-2009, 07:39 AM   #4
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Re: Boston Hotels

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Originally Posted by Ron Newman View Post
Or if you're intending to spend almost all non-sleeping hours outside of the hotel room.
Few can accomplish this; sometimes you need a break.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman View Post
You can actually walk indoors all the way from Back Bay station to the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
It may be indoors, but it's a long walk with luggage --even the kind with wheels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman View Post
I expected to see the Charles Hotel in Cambridge and the Parker House on your list. Do you have any opinion of these, good or bad?
Parker House has seen better days. It needs a top to bottom re-do.

Charles is like not being in Harvard Square at all; you have to cross a brick desert like the one outside City Hall, only smaller. Also, it's overpriced for what you get.
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Old 12-27-2009, 07:56 AM   #5
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Re: Boston Hotels

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No Nine Zero or Liberty hotels?
Considered both.

Nine Zero seems to have housekeeping problems.

Liberty: if you get a room in the new wing, you'll find it's pretty standard; in the old part, you'll be kept awake by the bar. For the price, you should get better. Try the budget John Jeffries house instead; it's in the same neighborhood.
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Old 12-27-2009, 08:21 AM   #6
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Re: Boston Hotels

What's your opinion of the Eliot, at Mass. Ave and Comm. Ave. in Back Bay?

Two $$$$ hotels not on your list: the Taj (formerly Ritz-Carlton) and Four Seasons.
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Old 12-27-2009, 08:33 AM   #7
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Re: Boston Hotels

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What's your opinion of the Eliot, at Mass. Ave and Comm. Ave. in Back Bay?
Back in the day, this hotel was a budget buy. It's still the same hotel, but the rates have tripled. At their current prices, you're entitled to complain about the small rooms, the housekeeping problems and the management's attitude.

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Two $$$$ hotels not on your list: the Taj (formerly Ritz-Carlton) and Four Seasons.
My list is a selection, Ron. For an encyclopedic listing, go to Tripadvisor.

Taj had cachet as the Ritz, but that was when it was almost the only upmarket game in town. The little old ladies with blue hair loved it. Now it's just plain frumpy, and the lowered price reflects that.

Four Seasons is riding on its rep.
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Old 12-27-2009, 09:08 AM   #8
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Re: Boston Hotels

Thanks.
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Old 12-27-2009, 01:17 PM   #9
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Re: Boston Hotels

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One thing a tourist should know about the Battery Wharf hotel -- it's as far away from the subway as one can be in central Boston. About a 10-minute walk to Haymarket or Aquarium or North Station.
A good argument for the Aqua Line Atlantic Avenue streetcar: Charlestown Navy Yard to Fish Pier via Greenway.
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Old 12-27-2009, 02:06 PM   #10
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Re: Boston Hotels

Hotel Marlow?
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Old 12-27-2009, 02:27 PM   #11
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Re: Boston Hotels

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Hotel Marlow?
Funky decor, but you're in exile at Lechmere. You gotta like semi-suburban surroundings. Shopping is in a mall that you can find in Des Moines. I'd never recommend this place to a European; they mostly like cities.
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Old 12-27-2009, 03:00 PM   #12
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Re: Boston Hotels

The Charlesmark is a spiffy boutique right in Copley Square. The rooms are a bit small, but I dig the bar. My friends who have stayed there have enjoyed it.
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Old 12-27-2009, 03:25 PM   #13
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Re: Boston Hotels

^ Good suggestion. Charlesmark almost made my list, but they've recently jacked up their prices, so they're not the good deal they used to be. Great location. They once were said to have mice.
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Old 12-27-2009, 03:56 PM   #14
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Re: Boston Hotels

Interesting info on the room-rates. The mice is another story. I don't believe there's a restaurant on the premises. Maybe from the T digging for the elevators at Copley Station?
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Old 12-27-2009, 04:17 PM   #15
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Re: Boston Hotels

^ Yeah, at a time when hotel rates were tumbling, they raised their fees by about an eighth; folks had found out what a good deal they were.

The decision led to their tumbling from fourth (!) to 28th in Tripadvisor?s rankings. Clearly folks no longer saw it as so much of a bargain.

Still, if I were moved to add another hotel to the list, this would be the one.
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Old 12-27-2009, 11:44 PM   #16
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Re: Boston Hotels

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Harvard Square is famously 11 minutes by subway to downtown Boston
If this were true I would have missed a lot more trains and buses at South Station then I have.

"Brick desert" at the Charles Hotel? The little plaza is hardly a twentieth the size of City Hall's, it has an interesting monument to the King of Thailand, and usually has some kind of activity: a skating rink, a farmer's market, an outdoor bar. Some of the more interesting old Harvard Square places (Charlie's, New England Comics) are right across the street, and there are pretty good restaurants (Henrietta's Table, Rialto) inside. This is where about 95% of the recruiters who come to Harvard's professional schools stay, for a reason.
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:04 AM   #17
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Re: Boston Hotels

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If this were true I would have missed a lot more trains and buses at South Station then I have.
It's what was emblazoned on a sign atop the old subway kiosk that later turned into a newsstand. Obviously, it referred to actual train travel time under ideal conditions. A little MBTA hyperbole.

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"Brick desert" at the Charles Hotel? The little plaza is hardly a twentieth the size of City Hall's, it has an interesting monument to the King of Thailand, and usually has some kind of activity: a skating rink, a farmer's market, an outdoor bar.
Serves me right for relying on memory. Before they added the latest wing, the hotel?s inner brick courtyard continued onto amorphous Brattle Square, and you had to cross that expanse to get to the hotel entrance in the far corner --not quite sure if you were perhaps trespassing. It was that inner courtyard I was referring to as the brick desert, but that is now a nicely enclosed courtyard. My bad; shoulda looked on bing maps.

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This is where about 95% of the recruiters who come to Harvard's professional schools stay, for a reason.
Yes --expense accounts.
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:16 AM   #18
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Re: Boston Hotels

The Chandler Inn is very urban and gets loads of European guests. It's also in the midst of a great neighborhood and is within walking distance to Back Bay Station.

Last edited by sidewalks; 12-28-2009 at 09:11 AM.
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:25 AM   #19
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Re: Boston Hotels

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Some of the more interesting old Harvard Square places (Charlie's, New England Comics) are right across the street, and there are pretty good restaurants (Henrietta's Table, Rialto) inside.
Don't forget the Regattabar.
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:15 PM   #20
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Re: Boston Hotels

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The Chandler Inn is very urban and gets loads of European guests. It's also in the midst of a great neighborhood and is within walking distance to Back Bay Station.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...achusetts.html

Number 51 out of 72 hotels?

Maybe not.

Europeans are people too, and they like what we like.

Wouldn't recommend this place in a million years. The list is supposed to represent exceptional value and excellence to people I care about. It's not too hard to find a cheap dump. Why bother?
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