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Updated: March 23, 2021
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Boston Hotels – Tips & Advice
- The best neighborhoods in Boston for visitors are Back Bay (upscale shopping, dining, close to attractions), Downtown (the financial district and historical heart of Boston, where the action is), The Waterfront (best views, close to attractions), and Beacon Hill (quiet neighborhood, but walking distance to attractions).
- Best Luxury Hotels in Boston: Harbor Hotel (classic, New England luxury) • Mandarin Oriental (best spa retreat) • Omni Parker House (most historic)
- Best Boutique Hotels in Boston: Eliot Suites Hotel • Lenox • Commonwealth
- Best Boston Hotel for Families: Four Seasons Hotel Boston
- The best restaurants are Grotto (Best Italian), Yvonne’s (best for celebrating), RUKA (best sushi/Nikkei restaurant), Yankee Lobster Company (best seafood), Mooo…. (best steakhouse).
- The best cannoli is at Mike’s Pastry.
- The best Boston Cream Pie is at Parker’s Restaurant. (They invented it!)
- The best coffeeshop is Boston Brewin Coffee.
The 25 Best Hotels in Boston
1. Boston Harbor Hotel – Waterfront
Hotel phone: 617.439.7000
True New England luxury with breathtaking views of Massachusetts Bay and a gorgeous rotunda under a 24-meter coffered dome. This romantic hotel offers spacious rooms and unparalleled service. There are four restaurants and bars on-site, all of which are outstanding; Rowes Wharf Bar offers Boston’s largest scotch varieties, as well as regular tasting classes and food events. Their 34 slip marina makes for a fun-filled day on the harbor. This hotel is also home to the city’s largest pool. Located on the water, just across from Rose Kennedy Greenway and its carousel, near the New England Aquarium, and walking distance to most major attractions.
2. Mandarin Oriental – Back Bay
Hotel phone: 617.535.8888
Superb luxury hotel with architecture and design based on feng shui and the five Chinese elements. It is home to the only five-star spa in Massachusetts (and at 16,000 square feet, it may also be the largest), with a crystal steam room, ice fountains, relaxation suites, and experience showers. Bar Boulud, the hotel’s informal French bistro, is designed to look like the inside of a wine barrel. In the Back Bay neighborhood, you’ll find the city’s finest shopping and dining right at your doorstep.
3. Omni Parker House – Downtown
Hotel phone: 617.227.8600
A historic gem, the oldest continuously operating hotel in Boston. Every U.S. president has stayed here since Grant; JFK proposed to Jackie O. here (ask for table 40 at their restaurant, the very spot); literary giants, including Dickens and Hawthorne, have stayed here; and former employees include Malcolm X, Ho Chi Minh, and Emeril Legasse. Also, their restaurant literally invented the Boston cream pie. This is a cozy and romantic spot for couples, plus a great stay for families – they have special family suites with bunk beds, and kids receive a backpack full of toys at check-in. Ideally located near Boston Common and several stops on the Freedom Trail.
4. Eliot Hotel – Back Bay
Hotel phone: 617.267.1607
Family-owned for 77 years, The Eliot is a model of boutique luxury with impeccable service, crystal chandeliers, Italian marble, and real keys instead of cards. The owners are on-site daily, making sure everything is running smoothly. Though it’s located in the heart of Back Bay, you’ll never hear a peep of street noise, thanks to the triple-paned windows. The Ken Oringer-owned restaurant, Uni, serves up spectacular Asian fare daily and is best known for their weekend, late-night ramen bar. Fine dining and high-end shopping are only steps away, while popular attractions are within walking distance.
5. Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel – Back Bay
Hotel phone: 617.267.5300
Built in 1912 and meticulously restored, this Beaux-Arts hotel is the height of opulence with soaring archways, mosaic tile floors, marble columns, and gold coffered ceilings. There’s superb farm-to-table American dining and craft cocktails at their signature restaurant, plus an invitation-only supper club (email ahead to be added to the list; you’ll need a password to get in). Fun activities for kids, including a pizza-making class and a canine ambassador, who is available to take for walks. Well situated in Back Bay, near high-end shopping and dining, the Boston Public Library, and Trinity Church.
6. InterContinental Boston – Waterfront
Hotel phone: 617.747.1000
Modern luxury hotel with jaw-dropping views of the Boston harbor, especially from their corner rooms. Chic, contemporary design with spacious accommodations. A casual French bistro is their signature restaurant, and there are three phenomenal bars, each focusing on a different spirit: vodka, tequila, and rum. Very family-friendly, this hotel has a great pool, where ice cream socials and Disney movie nights are held. For adults, they offer onsite fishing clinics and running buddies. Excellent location, close to the New England Aquarium, Boston Tea Party Museum, and Children’s Museum.
7. Four Seasons Hotel Boston – Back Bay
Hotel phone: 617.338.4400
Elegant and sunny rooms decked in classic New England style, offering views of the Boston Public Garden and Beacon Hill. Perfect for families, the hotel offers cookie-making classes, scavenger hunts, and special in-room amenities for children. Their signature restaurant The Bristol, serves sumptuous American fine dining, especially steaks, seafood, and housemade pasta. Just a stone’s throw from the Charles River Esplanade, Newbury Street shopping, and the start of the Freedom Trail.
8. The Langham – Downtown
Hotel phone: 617.451.1900
Spectacular hotel in a Renaissance Revival building from 1922, the original Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The hotel shows contemporary luxury in the common areas with décor that plays up their banking history. The restaurant and bar options here are all fantastic, but they are best known for their decadent Saturday Chocolate Bar, Sunday brunch, and afternoon tea service. Their onsite spa offers services based on the five Chinese elements. Centrally located in Downtown, the Langham is walking distance to most attractions, including Little Italy, Back Bay shopping, and Faneuil Hall.
9. Lenox Hotel – Back Bay
Hotel phone: 617.536.5300
Family-owned, boutique, luxury hotel from 1900, designed by the same architects behind the original Waldorf Astoria – think plush decor, gold scrolling, and grand columns. Nearly half the rooms have fireplaces, while the entire eleventh floor is hypoallergenic. All three delicious restaurants here use locally sourced ingredients; they even have their own beehives for honey. Perfectly situated in the Back Bay, near sidewalk cafes, boutiques, and galleries of Newbury Street.
10. The Liberty – Beacon Hill
Hotel phone: 617.224.4000
A brand new Luxury Collection hotel in the former Charles Street Jail. Balconies overlook the lobby, with original cell bars still up, and exposed brick walls. The jailhouse-themed décor contrasts nicely with sumptuous rooms and lots of contemporary art. Six onsite restaurants and bars, including one in the old drunk tank, all have excellent food, strong cocktails, and lively atmospheres. Located in the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, with direct access to the Charles River Esplanade, Boston Common, the Black Heritage Trail, and the Freedom Trail.
11. Hotel Commonwealth – Kenmore Square
Hotel phone: 617.933.5000
Boutique luxury hotel across from Fenway Park: the official hotel of the Red Sox. This hotel has a wild décor with mismatched patterns, bright colors, and themed suites. Some of the best dining in the city is onsite, most notably Eastern Standard, a brasserie with great brunch, late-night bites, and cocktails. This is a pet-friendly hotel, even offering massage treatments for dogs. Their stellar location is walking distance to the Boston Symphony, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
12. Loews Boston – Back Bay
Hotel phone: 617.266.7200
Luxury hotel in a historic Art Deco building. This limestone hotel was formerly the Boston Police Headquarters, and they have a cool display of Boston police history here. Home to the amazing Precinct Kitchen and Bar, serving American-style steaks and seafood and making their own charcuterie. This hotel is well situated near Back Bay cafes and boutiques, near the theater district, Copley Square, and Boston Public Garden.
13. Royal Sonesta Boston – Cambridge
Hotel phone: 617.806.4200
Sleek and streamlined luxury hotel perched on the northern bank of the Charles River. Rooms offer sweeping views of the river and of the Boston and Cambridge skylines. This hotel boasts an outrageous art collection, featuring work by emerging and established artists and including an original Andy Warhol. Their saline indoor/outdoor pool has a retractable roof. For families, they host movie nights at the pool and scavenger hunts within the hotel. Located in Cambridge, walking distance to the Museum of Science and the USS Constitution and accessible to Harvard Square and Downtown Boston.
14. Boston Marriott Long Wharf – Waterfront
Hotel phone: 617.227.0800
Gorgeous luxury hotel on the Boston Harbor. Their indoor pool and whirlpool are surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows that lead out to a stellar sundeck with city and water views. Right next door to the New England Aquarium, and close to the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, and Blackstone Street.
15. The Godfrey Hotel – Downtown
Hotel phone: 617.804.2000
Brand new, independent, luxury hotel in a historic Gothic Revival building. Fresh, contemporary design elements blend seamlessly into the original marble and plasterwork interiors. Their signature restaurant, RUKA, serves vibrant Peruvian fare blended with Japanese and Chinese influences. Located in the revitalized Downtown Crossing area, near the theater district, Boston Common, and the Freedom Trail.
16. The Envoy Hotel – Seaport District
Hotel phone: 617.338.3030
Built in 2015 in the up-and-coming Seaport District, this contemporary hotel was designed around the theme of movement, with treasures from the sea and unique art on each floor. This non-traditional property features flexible, multi-use space plus gaming chairs in the suites and a touch screen pool table in the lobby. Great location in a growing neighborhood, near the Institute of Contemporary Art, Harpoon Brewery, and the Boston Tea Party Museum.
17. Kimpton Marlowe Hotel – Cambridge
Hotel phone: 617.868.8000
Charming hotel in Cambridge, near the Museum of Science. To highlight that connection, the hotel is designed around a theme of exploration, with a steampunk, celestial armillary sculpture, compasses in the floors, and telescopes in select rooms. Enjoy fun amenities, like complimentary kayaks, bicycles, and nightly wine hour. Positioned close to the Charles River, USS Constitution, with easy access to Harvard Square or Downtown Boston.
18. The Bostonian – Downtown
Hotel phone: 617.523.3600
Luxury hotel built in two towers, one on either side of the cobblestone path where Paul Revere did his famous ride. A cozy and inviting lobby leads to fab rooms, half of which have a Juliet balcony; studios all have fireplaces. Their onsite restaurant serves casual, locally sourced foods, and has a tremendous wine list. They have an award-winning kids’ program, Ask Alfred, in which all children receive a teddy bear, coloring book, and free breakfasts. Wonderfully located near Blackstone Street, home to the oldest restaurants and bars in the city, and walking distance to Faneuil Hall and Little Italy.
19. Kimpton Nine Zero – Downtown
Hotel phone: 617.772.5800
Quirky, luxury hotel in Downtown with eclectic, colorful furnishings. High-tech room options include the Cloud Nine suite, which uses an eye scan rather than a key for guests to gain entry. Expect a lively atmosphere in their Highball Lounge, where DJs spin every Friday and Saturday night. Daily wine hour and bicycles are free for all guests. Centrally located near Boston Common, the Freedom Trail, the Black Heritage Trail, and great restaurants.
20. The Colonnade Hotel – Back Bay
Hotel phone: 617.424.7000
A contemporary, boutique hotel with a classic, luxury feel. Their rooftop pool (one of the only two in the city) boasts a lounge, sundeck, and cabanas. A smart casual French brasserie onsite offers craft beers and wine. Ideally located in the Back Bay for luxe shopping and dining, this spot is also walking distance to Copley Square and Top of the Hub observation deck at The Pru.
21. XV Beacon – Beacon Hill
Hotel phone: 617.670.1500
Boutique, luxury hotel in an elegant Beaux-Arts building. Each delightful room here comes with its own fireplace and great little touches, like heated towel racks. Mooo…, the steakhouse here, is one of the best in the city, with lots of options even for vegetarians. Situated in the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, within walking distance to most major attractions, including the Black Heritage Trail, the Freedom Trail, and Boston Common.
22. Westin Boston Waterfront – Seaport District
Hotel phone: 617.532.4600
A light and airy business luxury hotel connected to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Inspired interiors feature two-story floor-to-ceiling windows, a vertical garden, and trees growing in the lobby bar. Fun hotel amenities include a comedy club and an indoor pool. Great location right on the water in the Seaport District, an area booming with new restaurants and bars, near the Institute of Contemporary Art and Harpoon Brewery.
23. Aloft Boston Seaport – Seaport District
Hotel phone: 617.530.1600
Tech-savvy, affordable luxury hotel with wild, neon décor. Aimed at millennials, some rooms here feature voice-activated lighting and temperature, keyless room access using smartphones, and a robotic butler. Just text Botlr an emoji to request an item for your room – an emoji of a beer will get you a real beer. Other perks include a pool and live music every week. Located in the Seaport District, near the Lawn on D, an outdoor event space, and Harpoon Brewery.
24. Copley Square Hotel – Back Bay
Hotel phone: 617.536.9000
An independent, boutique hotel with lots of old Boston charm in an 1891 building. Expect fashionable rooms, nightly comp wine, and top-notch service from their Intuition Specialists. Grab a drink and dance at Storyville, their nightclub that was once a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Fantastic location, just across from the Boston Public Library and two blocks from the shops on Newbury Street.
Staying in the Back Bay
For first-timers to the city, this is a great area to make your home base. Back Bay is quintessential Boston, with rows of Victorian brick houses, architectural landmarks, upscale boutiques and name-brand shopping, and hip restaurants. Located on the south side of the Charles River, this area was once an actual bay. But in the mid-1800s, after a failed attempt at building a milldam, the area was filled in to make more usable land for a growing city. The area is now the most upscale part of the city, known as “The Rodeo Drive of the East.”
Back Bay is home to some of the finest architecture in the city. In Copley Square alone, you’ll find the breathtaking Boston Public Library, a historic Renaissance-style building with hand painted murals by John Singer Sargent; Trinity Church, the original Richardsonian Romanesque building; as well as the modern John Hancock Tower (officially known as 200 Clarendon), the tallest building in New England. You’ll find the best shopping in the city on Newbury and Boylston Streets here, lined with hundreds of retailers; larger shopping centers like the Prudential Center are also nearby. Trendsetting restaurants, sunny sidewalk cafes, and upbeat bars round out the experience.
One handy tip for getting around: All roads running north-south here are named alphabetically, beginning with “A” for Arlington at the easternmost boundary alongside the Boston Public Garden, followed by “B” for Berkeley the next block over. This continues all the way to the westernmost edge of Back Bay, at Hereford Street.
Best Hotels in the Back Bay
- Mandarin Oriental • Hotel phone: 617.535.8888
- The Eliot Hotel • Hotel phone: 617.267.1607
- Fairmont Copley Plaza • Hotel phone: 617.267.5300
- Four Seasons Hotel Boston • Hotel phone: 617.338.4400
- Lenox Hotel • Hotel phone: 617.536.5300
- Loews Boston • Hotel phone: 617.266.7200
- The Colonnade Hotel • Hotel phone: 617.424.7000
- Copley Square Hotel • Hotel phone: 617.536.9000
Best Restaurants in Back Bay
- Precinct Kitchen + Bar • $$ • Lively, American-style spot with excellent seafood, charcuterie, and cocktails.
- Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar • $$ • Fun Mexican-inspired joint. Meals start with a grapefruit granita over dry ice – topped with a tequila shot – and end with complimentary green apple cotton candy with pop rocks.
- Ostra • $$$$ • Mediterranean fine dining specializing in seafood.
- Deuxave • $$$ • Smart casual French cuisine with American ingredients and flare.
- Santouka Back Bay • $$ • Japanese ramen chain – tasty, cheap, and filling.
Staying on the Waterfront/North End
The North End is the oldest neighborhood in Boston, settled in the 1600s, and is home to some of the city’s most important sights, including the Old North Church, Paul Revere House, and Copp’s Hill Burying Grounds, all located along the middle portion of the Freedom Trail, which begins in Downtown and continues on to Bunker Hill. Much of the North End is home to Little Italy, brimming with outstanding restaurants and a romantic atmosphere. East of Little Italy, the Waterfront spans a strip of the city roughly from Battery Wharf at the northernmost point and Fort Point Channel at the southern end. It was originally the site of the Port of Boston, which has since moved further out of the city. This neighborhood boasts gorgeous views of Massachusetts Bay (an incredible backdrop for weddings and proposals) and is home to most of the North End’s top hotels, historic sites, and family attractions.
The Boston HarborWalk spans the full length of the Waterfront, and a stroll along its piers and beaches is essential when visiting. The Waterfront is a perfect hub for family activities. It’s home to the New England Aquarium, the Greenway Carousel, and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.
Best Hotels in the Waterfront
- Boston Harbor Hotel • Hotel phone: 617.439.7000
- InterContinental Boston • Hotel phone: 617.747.1000
- Boston Marriott Long Wharf • Hotel phone: 617.227.0800
Best Restaurants in the Waterfront/North End
- il Molo • $$$ • Upscale yet casual New England-Italian seafood.
- State Street Provisions • $$ • Refined, modern takes on historically New England dishes.
- Mamma Mia • $$$ • Elegant, Italian dishes prepared with local, seasonal ingredients.
- Galleria Umberto • $ • Sicilian-style pizza by the slice. Cash only. Lunch only.
Staying in Beacon Hill
Primarily a residential area, Beacon Hill is a great place for travelers who prefer to live like a local. This was the historic home to over half of Boston’s African American population and the hub of the nation’s abolitionist movement. Today, this is one of the most expensive places to live in Boston, just behind Back Bay. You’ll find here iconic gas lamps lit over brick sidewalks, row houses built in the Federal Style, antique shops, boutique stores, and chic little restaurants. This neighborhood is within walking distance to nearly all of Boston’s attractions.
The Beacon Hill neighborhood has only a handful of hotels and fewer tourist traps than most other downtown neighborhoods. The main draw here is its charming architecture and historical significance. There are some must see sights in this area, though, mostly connected by the Black Heritage Trail, including the Abiel Smith School (the first public school for free black Americans), the African Meeting House (first black church in America; central rallying place for the abolitionist movement), and the Lewis and Harriett Hayden House (a stop on the Underground Railroad). The gold-domed Massachusetts State House is here, too, while Boston Common makes up Beacon Hill’s southern border.
Best Hotels in Beacon Hill
- The Liberty • Hotel phone: 617.224.4000
- XV Beacon • Hotel phone: 617.670.1500
- Whitney Hotel • Hotel phone: 617.367.1866
Best Restaurants in Beacon Hill
- Grotto • $$$ • Partially underground, this is a cozy spot for imaginative Italian dining.
- Ma Maison • $$ • Stylish French restaurant with great cocktails. Reservations recommended.
- Toscano • $$$ • Traditional Tuscan fare in a rustic setting.
- Mooo…. • $$$$ • Refined steakhouse with contemporary flare and huge wine selection.
- 75 Chestnut • $$ • Straightforward American dishes done right.
- Beacon Hill Pub • $ • The last dive bar in town. Cash only.
Staying in Downtown Boston
The historical, political, and commercial heart of Boston. This is the center of the action, home to the city’s most iconic attractions, including Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, and the Old South Meeting House. The Blackstone Block here is home to the city’s oldest restaurants and bars, while the Downtown Crossing area houses big department stores and the city’s most exciting new restaurants. Boston is a very walkable city as a whole, and Downtown is no different in that regard. But for travelers who want to explore outside the city, taking a day or two to check out Salem or Cambridge, Downtown is the best place to stay. All major transit lines intersect here, and getting anywhere from here is a breeze.
There are so many activities and attractions Downtown, it can be difficult to choose where to start. Luckily, many of the best-known attractions are all stops on the Freedom Trail, which begins at Boston Common and ends in Bunker Hill on the north shore of the Charles River, weaving through Downtown along the way past the Granary Burying Ground, Faneuil Hall, and more. This is a great thing to do first thing in Boston, as walking the trail will give you the basic lay of the land. Be sure to take time to explore the Boston Public Garden, Haymarket on the weekend, and take a selfie with the Edgar Allan Poe statue.
Best Hotels in Downtown Boston
- Omni Parker House • Hotel phone: 617.227.8600
- The Langham • Hotel phone: 617.451.1900
- The Godfrey • Hotel phone: 617.804.2000
- The Bostonian • Hotel phone: 617.523.3600
- Kimpton Nine Zero • Hotel phone: 617.772.5800
Best Restaurants in Downtown Boston
- Yvonne’s • $$$ • Fun, glam, wild food and drinks in a historic setting. Great for celebrating a special occasion. Reservations recommended.
- Jade Garden • $$ • Simple and well-executed Chinese menu in a casual setting. Open until 2 a.m.
- RUKA • $$$ • Bold flavors in this new restaurant, specializing in nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian) and chifa (Chinese-Peruvian) cuisines. Reservations recommended.
Staying in the Seaport District
Boston’s newest up-and-coming neighborhood is also the fastest growing in the nation. This area, the harborfront portion of South Boston, has seen big changes over the past few years, with hotels, office towers, restaurants, and bars springing up in an area that used to be just parking lots.
The Boston HarborWalk that passes through the Waterfront continues south through the Seaport District, passing by the Boston Children’s Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and Harpoon Brewery, following gorgeous bay views the whole way. During summer months, swing by the Lawn on D, a family-friendly park for outdoor games, concerts, and events.
Best Hotels in the Seaport District
- The Envoy • Hotel phone: 617.338.3030
- Westin Boston Waterfront • Hotel phone: 617.532.4600
- Aloft Boston Seaport • Hotel phone: 617.530.1600
Best Restaurants in the Seaport District
- Yankee Lobster Company • $ • No frills diner serving super fresh seafood. Boston’s best lobster roll and clam chowder.
- Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall • $ • Great beer on tap and fresh, handmade pretzels. Brewery tours available and highly recommended.
- Committee • $$ • Mediterranean tapas and seasonal cocktails.
- Blue Dragon • $$ • East-West pub fare, served tapas style.
- KO Catering and Pies • $ • Delicious Aussie takeout joint, specializing in savory meat and veggie pies.
Staying in Cambridge
Best known as the home of Harvard and MIT, Cambridge sits due north of Boston on the opposite side of the Charles River. With its large university-age demographic, Cambridge is a lively city with a youthful, intellectual vibe. You’ll find lots of trendy boutiques, sidewalk cafes, coffee houses, and bars, especially near Harvard Square. With the numerous schools come loads of great museums with varied focuses. The largest and best known is the Museum of Science, a fun family destination with a butterfly house and a live electricity demo. But there are tons more, covering specific topics that include Islamic and Asian art, Semitic archaeology, medical history, comparative zoology, among others.
Cambridge is big, and it takes a time to explore, so plan on taking a day or two here. Spend the morning walking or kayaking the Charles River, before heading out to hit a museum or three. Peruse the vintage shops, and spend the end of the night in Central Square, drinking craft cocktails made with Fernet.
Best Hotels in Cambridge
Best Restaurants in Cambridge
- Giulia • $$$ • Delightful Italian restaurant serving handmade pasta.
- Oleana Restaurant • $$$ • Phenomenal Turkish and Eastern Mediterranean fine dining.
- Bondir Cambridge • $$$$ • American farm-to-table fare with a great craft beer and wine selection.
- Tasting Counter • $$$$ • Unique food experience. Tickets are purchased in advance and cover food, drink, tax, service. All counter seats face the open kitchen, rather than tables.