Visiting Beantown for the first time and looking for affordable accomodations? Planning on taking a staycation in a deluxe room? Our guide to the best hotels in Boston has you covered. And, since you’re on a vacation, let us help you out a bit more: make sure to grab a cup of joe at the best Boston coffee shops and cafes every morning, followed by an adventure on one of the best Boston city tours and, of course, dinner at the absolute best Italian restaurants in Boston. You’re welcome.
Best hotels in Boston
There is no hotel chain more synonymous with elegance and sophistication than the Mandarin Oriental, and its Boston outpost sits among the U.S. elites. Centrally located in the Back Bay, the hotel exudes luxury at every turn, from the massive marble lobby to the Art Deco-influenced rooms with luxury bathrooms and inimitable city skylines. If you seek the ne plus ultra of spa experiences, venture no further than the hotel’s award-winning, 16,000-square-foot luxury oasis for a decadent, Asian-influenced massage or facial. The building also brings you some of the best dining in the city, including the in-house Bar Boulud from celebrity chef Daniel Boulud and the adjacent L’Espalier, a French-inspired legend.
Back in the days of yore, this Beaux-Arts building housed the city’s original Ritz-Carlton, a resplendent destination with all of the expected ornate trappings (Winston Churchill and Joan Crawford were both visitors). The 18-story space fell into a bit of disrepair before a 2002 renovation restored its beauty; Taj Hotels then took over the space in 2006 and added its own luxurious touches. Rooms are done up in a throwback style but boast many a modern-day perk, from Frette linens to down-filled comforters and a pillow menu; when you’re ready to retire for the evening, feel free to ring up the bath butler to attend to your bathing needs (fireplace suites come with a fireplace butler). The first floor cafe serves a menu of both New England and Indian dishes; during the warmer months, the rooftop patio opens up for a weekly champagne brunch that’s as popular among local residents as it is among hotel guests. Other Brahmin pleasures include afternoon tea in the ornate French room and a fireside martini in the wood-paneled second-floor bar. From the hotel you can walk to every major site in the city—the Public Garden is literally across the street—but why bother when the house Jaguar can take you anywhere you please?
Old marries new at a hotel housed in what was once a private mansion. Century-old architectural details still abound in the 1903 structure, including the wrought iron birdcage elevator. But sleek modernity ultimately rules the day. Each room inside the boutique hotel is decorated in a cream and espresso palette with specially commissioned art and includes both a gas fireplace and a separate sitting area. But the real reason the hotel has so many return guests? The amenities: Cashmere throws, Frette linens, rainforest shower heads, fresh flowers and overnight laundry and shoe shining, to name but a few. In 2009, the property received a minor upgrade, introducing Lexus courtesy cars and a new pet pampering program (all animal fees go to a local animal organization). If you’re mulling over where to grab dinner, start at MOOO…., the in-hotel modern steakhouse (you can also order off the menu via room service).
Sleep where the criminals once did. For over a century, the Liberty Hotel existed as a decidedly different entity—the Charles Street Jail, once “home” to inmates like Malcolm X and Sacco and Vanzetti. A complete revamp of the building happened in 2007, and it was an inspired (and above-board) transformation: Visit today and you’ll still see cell bars embedded in the walls before you head off to drink on the side patio that was once the exercise yard. The 298-room luxury hotel includes sumptuous rooms with river views, five different restaurants and bars (Scampo is helmed by legendary Boston chef Lydia Shire) and a happening nightlife scene. During the summer months, the hotel hosts regular yoga classes and after-work events for both guests and locals, including fashion shows, cooking classes and a weekly “Yappy Hour” for dog owners.
A good thing got a lot better in 2016, when the luxurious, waterside Boston Harbor Hotel renovated all 230 of its guest rooms and suites. In addition to a new nautical color palette, each room now features an in-room iPad with hotel info from which guests can also adjust the AC and lighting and change the TV stations (this on top of digital wake-up calls and international radio stations). Then there are the little touches: in-room amenities like a personalized wine and cheese plate or your own private bartender. The health club and spa were also majorly upgraded and the Meritage, BHH’s in-house restaurant, now features more expansive wine offerings and a “vineyard-to-table” menu. The hotel’s location is still as enviable as ever: right on top of the Boston Harbor (duh), with immediate access to the Boston Harborwalk, many waterside restaurants and various boat cruises (which the concierge is happy to set up). But one of BHH’s unique charms is that it hosts so many events right on site, from weekly alfresco movie viewings in the summer to outdoor fires and cocoa in the winter—plus the Boston Wine Festival, held every year from January through March. You’ll be hard-pressed to leave.
If it’s history you seek, why not bed down in Boston’s first skyscraper? Long before the Hancock and Prudential made their appearances, the 13-story Ames Building was the city’s most looming structure. A top-to-bottom renovation of the Romanesque structure in 2009 transformed it into an opulent boutique hotel fit for a queen—or at least Madonna, who has been one of the many celebrity visitors. The rooms and suites broadcast decadence, with 13-foot ceilings, clean-lined modernist furniture, decorative marble fireplaces and reclaimed-granite bathroom vanities (never mind the gold-sequined pillows). Amenities are equally opulent, including 55-inch flatscreens and sound machines for better sleep. Dine in-house at King St. Tavern or hop on one of the hotel’s complimentary bikes to tour the burgeoning downtown dining scene.
If you squint, you might think you’re staying in a top European hotel. Housed in two historic, 19th-century townhouses on the cobblestoned Charles Street, Beacon Hill Hotel is all about Old World amenities. The airy rooms, with their writing desks and neutral color schemes, recall a Parisian pied a terre; shuttered windows face out towards Beacon Hill and can actually be opened. The second-floor common area invites conviviality among guests, as does the private rooftop terrace (where you might just spot the likes of Cameron Diaz). Visitors are also lucky enough to enjoy a full breakfast at the French fusion Beacon Hill Bistro downstairs; they’d be remiss not to return for a top-shelf dinner or late-night drink beside the fireplace. Once you dare leave the hotel’s comforts, you’ll find yourself right in the middle of Beacon Hill’s revived shopping scene, with the picturesque Charles River just a hop and a skip away.
For every modern hotel that springs up in Boston, there’s an old-timer that reminds you of the importance of throwback pleasures. The centrally located and beautifully appointed Fairmont Copley Place first opened in 1912, and the grandeur of an earlier era is reflected in the ornate marble lobby. Rooms—all 383 of them—are more sedate, decorated in cool hues and commissioned art sketches depicting Boston scenes. But for those who crave splashes of modernity, no worries. First head upstairs to the expansive rooftop gym, then head back down to the OAK Long Bar and Kitchen, a thoroughly renovated bar and brasserie that’s become a hangout for local sports professionals and other well-known denizens. Oh, and then there’s the hotel’s “canine ambassador:” Carley Copley, an adoptee from the local animal shelter who loves nothing more than greeting guests in the lobby when they first arrive.
A blend of classic and modern architectural elements, this downtown Kimpton hotel is a boutique haven for business travelers and those seeking central access to the city. From a wood-paneled lobby, you’ll travel upstairs to rooms that are urbane and opulent, with terrific city views. (If you’re feeling flush, spring for one of the Inspired Suites, each done up in a different theme.) Then it’s time to bond with your fellow guests, whether it’s on the morning run with the hotel GM or during the daily afternoon wine reception. Traveling with Sir Licks a Lot? Nine Zero provides a master class in pet-friendliness, from complimentary dog beds to pet sitting and, yes, four-legged massage services. The vintage-y Highball Lounge on the hotel’s second floor is as popular for its collection of board games as it is for its hand-crafted cocktails, complete with funky garnishes.
From the outside, you might not suspect this hulking concrete structure to house one of the city’s loveliest hotels. But then again, you know the old adage about deceiving appearances. A $25 million renovation back in 2008 turned the hotel into an edgy yet residential-feeling respite where rooms look more like perfectly appointed city condos. Eames furniture and modern art decorate each room, many of which offer skyline views from oversized, plate-glass windows (book a space on the south side of the building if you want to gaze over South End’s brownstone rooftops). The hotel puts you smack in the center of all the Back Bay has to offer, from the chichi Copley Place Mall to the even more chichi shopping and people watching of Newbury Street. But you’re golden if you stay in, too: Brasserie JO, the lobby-level restaurant, is a French brasserie in the Old World style (think duck l’orange and coq au vin), and the hotel’s renovated rooftop pool includes a bar and private cabanas as well as regular events with local chefs and yoga teachers.