Your guide to the best hotels in Boston, and travel to and from the city

Luxury hotels in Boston

Mandarin Oriental

Blending global luxury, Back Bay stye and New England charm, the Mandarin Oriental is an oasis in on bustling Boylston Street. The city's most sought-after shopping and dining is just steps away, but inside the Mandarin, elegant and modern guest rooms wow with stately decor. Elsewhere in the building, the world-class Bar Boulud serves up seasonal French fare, while the 5-star spa pampers guests with hydrotherapy, steam rooms, vitality pools and more.

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Liberty Hotel

The cells in the Liberty Hotel, by the Charles River near Beacon Hill, have an altogether less tranquil history than the guesthouse; drunks and assorted villains were once locked up in the tiny cubicles in what is now the bar. Built in 1851, the Charles Street Jail was a model prison for the times - but by the 1970s, the facility was outmoded and in disrepair. A district court ruled that the jail violated prisoners' constitutional rights, and it finally closed in 1990. Needless to say, there's no trace of its former squalor. For its conversion into a luxury hotel, some $120 million was pumped into renovations and the construction of a 16-story wing, which contains most of the 300 guest rooms. The airy central rotunda, which houses the main lobby, is topped by a cupola that was formerly covered over, and magnificent, original floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the landscaped patio. Rooms are more comfortable than cutting edge, with pale, neutral decor, mahogany furniture and handmade patchwork throws. Luxuries abound, from plush bed linen and Molton Brown toiletries to flatscreen HD-LCD TVs.

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Fairmont Copley Plaza

This little sister to New York's Plaza Hotel occupies a prime spot overlooking Copley Square, in the heart of Back Bay. Built in 1912, its mirrored and gilded lobby and function rooms are quite spectacular, with beautiful murals and ornate ceilings. But this place also has the air of an old family business, with black labrador Catie holding court in the lobby. A major renovation has introduced modern comforts while preserving the old-fashioned charm; rooms have high-speed internet access as well as stately club chairs and marble bathrooms. On the fourth floor, the discreet Fairmont Gold hotel-within-a-hotel has its own dedicated check-in and concierge, business center and lounge. The Fairmont's mahogany-paneled bar and restaurant, the Oak Room, is a Boston institution.

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Seaport Hotel

Before the harbor area development, the Seaport was a lone beacon, accommodating business types attending the adjacent Seaport World Trade Center. Now that the nearby Institute of Contemporary Art has broadened its attractions and Fort Point is blossoming, putting up here offers a different perspective on the city. Facilities are faultless: the spa is highly recommended, while the third-floor fitness center has a wonderful 50ft pool with sky views and underwater music. There's also plentiful parking in the adjacent garage, and a good in-house restaurant, Aura. Innovations include the touch screen in-room 'Seaportal' service, which provides gusts with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocal) telephone calls, information on local dining spots, cultural attractions and events, public transport schedules and the latest flight information from Logan International's website - all at the tap of the monitor screen.

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Four Seasons

The five-star Four Seasons is known for its famous guests. When the Stones roll into town, this is where they set up camp. Problem: there's only one Presidential Suite, an apartment complete with baby grand piano and dedicated maid or butler service. So who gets it, Mick or Keith? Or do they bunk up together? Apparently, Keith defers to his Glimmer Twin and takes the less lavish - but still deluxe - Ambassador Suite. Built on the site of a former Playboy Club, the hotel boasts an ideal location in the Back Bay, with swooning views of the Public Garden and impeccable amenities (such as a 44ft swimming pool, fitness center and spa - none of which is open to the public) and service. Traveling with Pongo? Pampered pooches can chow down from a dedicated pet room service menu, while their owners bask in the Brahmin splendor of the Bristol Lounge and haute dining room, Aujourd'hui.

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Boutique hotels in Boston

XV Beacon

In a former office building near the State House, XV Beacon opened in 1999, introducing contemporary boutique chic to Boston. Although there's more competition now, XV's air of discretion and exclusivity still carries considerable cachet. The sleek, spacious guest rooms are decorated in a lively mix of stripes and patterns, browns and beiges, and feature marble bathrooms and a lounge area with a grand gas fireplace (which, inexplicably, seems to emit heat whether you want it or not, battling with the air conditioning). The modern four-poster beds are a bit twee, but recent updates have introduced flatscreen TVs. The swanky restaurant, Mooo, offers steakhouse dining with a tongue-in-cheek twist. The hotel's free chauffeured car service is a boon, especially in winter, although its prime Beacon Hill location puts you just steps away from the Financial District and Back Bay.

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Hotel Commonwealth

Rumors of Kenmore Square's rise are as greatly exaggerated as those of Hotel Commonwealth's fall. While Kenmore, a stone's throw from Fenway Park, is taking its time in 'coming up', the Commonwealth lost none in recovering from its early hiccups. Yes, Bostonians hated its fiberglass, faux 19th-century façade so much it was redone at huge expense, only to be met with more pained sighs of disapproval. But inside, the spacious suites and rooms have a rustic, boutique elegance, along with superior technological conveniences. The lauded Radius Group runs the adjoining seafood restaurant and bar, Great Bay, while room service comes courtesy of Eastern Standard, a hip adjacent brasserie that's made waves on the city's dining scene. Good soundproofing and superbly comfortable, Italian linen-clad beds are further plus points.

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Nine Zero

When it opened in 2002, Nine Zero was one of a select sprinkling of boutique-style hotels in Boston. Now part of the Kimpton group, the hotel retains its aura of chilled-out chic - 'relax' is etched in brass lettering on the sidewalk outside the entrance as a welcome mantra - and exclusivity. The white-painted rooms are sleekly modern, with plush bed linens and oversized black vinyl headboards (with slight dominatrix overtones). Extras include Kimpton's signature leopard print robes, free wireless internet access and a complimentary 'wine hour' in the evening. Celebrated local chef/restaurateur Ken Oringer opened a deluxe steak house, KO Prime, in 2007, which operates as the hotel's in-house kitchen for room service too.

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W Hotel

This trailblazing, chic and ever-so-slightly snooty urban hotel chain continues to expand around the country, but it hasn't yet reached the point at which hip and fashionable turns to yesterday's thing. For that, full credit goes to the design, which eschews grand flourishes in favour of a simple and unobtrusive stylishness in both the rooms and the public spaces. Immediately on entering the hotel, you'll find yourself in a buzzing lobby bar, crowded with visitors and after-work locals making the scene.

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Charlesmark Hotel

Converted from a private residence, the slender Charlesmark is a beacon of minimalist boutique elegance on busy Boylston Street. The chic lounge and patio, opened in 2005, draws a local crowd. There's no restaurant, but Back Bay's culinary wealth more than compensates. The hotel is the work of local architect Dennis Duffy—a man responsible for some of the hippest restaurant, commercial and private revamps in town—whose clean, simple aesthetic is perfect for maximizing space in the modestly proportioned rooms.

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