Boston has long hung its tri-cornered hat on its historic sites and old-world architecture, but its renowned universities and tech companies have transformed it into one of the world’s leading innovation hubs. Likewise, some of Boston’s best hotels have taken old historic buildings and turned them into something entirely new.
The Revolution Hotel
The Revolution Hotel sits in the vibrant South End neighborhood | Courtesy of The Revolution Hotel / Hotels.com
In Boston’s hip South End neighborhood, The Revolution Hotel on Berkeley Street brings modern design to an early-20th-century YWCA building. You can sip a coffee in the lobby café – adorned with a mural of famous Boston residents from John F Kennedy to Martin Luther King Jr – while browsing a shelf of books by Boston-area authors. Downstairs, you’ll find a gym and a co-working space that features Massachusetts microbrews on tap. Rooms are small – some with the option of shared bathrooms – but all space is efficiently used as part of the hotel’s mission to keep rates reasonable. Across the street, the hotel also offers loft rooms with built-in kitchenettes. In the courtyard, a new restaurant will open in fall 2019 from the culinary team behind local hotspot The Beehive.
As a ’60s-era motel retrofitted with a rock-’n’-roll theme, The Verb checks a lot of hipster boxes. This 93-room hotel features record players in the guest rooms, a hip Japanese izakaya in the lobby and a mid-century bus parked out front, tailor-made for Instagram. Inside, the vibe is a mix of LA mid-century modern with a touch of swinging London. However, located just a long fly ball from Fenway Park, it’s also distinctly Boston, paying homage to some of the city’s greatest bands and music venues. A heated outdoor pool makes The Verb a gem for summer visits.
YOTEL Boston, in the city’s tech-centric Seaport, is trying to bring a “Moneyball” approach to hotels. It offers tiny rooms (or “cabins”) and minimizes the typical hotel bells and whistles to keep prices relatively low. It believes that people would rather spend time outside their hotel room, either at YOTEL’s excellent rooftop bar or out exploring the local sites such as the Institute of Contemporary Art and Trillium Brewing Company. By offering trendy but small rooms with modern touches such as fast Wi-Fi and TVs that connect to your mobile device, YOTEL is a compelling option for more tech-savvy travelers.
This line of hotels from the Hyatt caters to a more experiential crowd: those looking to get out and explore. The Hyatt Centric is a boutique lifestyle hotel that places guests in the middle of whichever destination they’re traveling to – so in this case, just a few steps from the Old State House (which is also visible from the widows of some of the 163 rooms), the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, TD Garden, the Greenway, North End, the Harbor and many other essential downtown attractions. The building itself is half old-world architecture, half modern and all renovated interior. The resident Bar Mercado on the ground floor offers artisan cocktails and convenient fine dining including steak tartar, grilled octopus and flatbreads such as Funky Fungi and Fig and Pig. The line has also partnered with Sofar Sounds to offer live local concerts at their various properties.
Located smack in the center of Boston is the elegant and cool XV Beacon. Enter its dark wood lobby, and admire its cozy sitting area and fireplace. Hop in its antique cage elevators to the roof deck (guests only), complete with a hot tub. Rooms are sleek and luxurious, but one of the best features is the hotel’s location. Just a block off Boston Common and sitting in the geographical center of downtown Boston, it’s an easy walk to just about every neighborhood and tourist attraction in the city.
The Godfrey’s minimalist style is a soothing counterpoint to Boston’s chaotic Downtown Crossing neighborhood. The hotel shares its lobby with hip coffee spot George Howell Coffee; it’s a great place to spend the morning people-watching. Expect a lot of stark white walls with pops of color in the form of modern furniture. The location offers easy access to Boston Common and the Public Garden, Chinatown and Boston’s Theater District.
Best known for its rooftop bar with exceptional views of downtown Boston and the waterfront, The Envoy has a hip party vibe – think Boston’s version of New York’s Standard Hotel. Right at the edge of the city’s rapidly developing Seaport District, it’s popular with the after-work crowd. An easy walk from downtown, its location and views are hard to beat. Even if you’re not staying here, the Lookout Rooftop is a crowd-pleaser; enjoy a sunny afternoon outside while raising a glass to the panoramic views.
The Lenox turns on the Boston charm from the moment you walk in off busy Boylston Street. A cozy fireplace in the lobby is a great place to unthaw, as is the cheerful Irish pub, Sólás, across from reception. Rooms are small but have a lot of appeal, and the Back Bay location couldn’t be more quintessential Boston. It’s about 100 feet (30 meters) from the Boston Marathon finish line, so you could live out your marathon glory while skipping the first 26.19 miles (42.15 kilometers).
Just across the river, Cambridge is like Boston’s little Brooklyn. More residential but also very hip, Cambridge is where you’ll find many of the best restaurants and bars in the Boston area. The Charles Hotel is a great place to stay as it lies right in Harvard Square, the commercial heart of Cambridge and home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities. The hotel features some unique amenities, including the renowned Regattabar jazz nightclub on the second floor. It’s just steps from the subway for those looking to zip over to Boston proper.
While the InterContinental Boston is popular with business travelers, this cushy waterfront hotel is a great spot to stay if it’s your first time in Boston. Whether or not you get to The Freedom Trail, here you can easily opt to walk along Boston’s HarborWalk – a trail along the beautiful Boston waterfront that passes right behind the hotel. Keep your eyes peeled in the lobby on game nights, as a lot of visiting NBA teams tend to stay here, too.
Vacation or staycation, if you’re looking to splurge, the five-star Mandarin Oriental Boston is the way to do it. Apart from its luxurious rooms, its spa is considered one of the best in New England. If that isn’t enough indulgence for you, the hotel’s Back Bay location will leave you spoiled for choice with its top-notch shopping and restaurants.
The Omni Parker House Hotel has an antique, Boston Brahmin vibe, which could be great if you’re into Boston’s history. JFK proposed to Jackie here. Ho Chi Minh (yes, that Ho Chi Minh) was a pastry chef here, and Malcolm X was a busboy at the restaurant. The classic hotel lobby is the main draw here. The rooms are small, but for a hotel over 150 years old, what do you expect?
If the Parker House is a little stuffy for your taste, the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel just a few doors down is like its hip grandkid. Its sleek, mid-century style feels like what you’d find if Don Draper went shopping at Design Within Reach. Within easy walking distance of most of Boston’s sites, with great public transit access too, the Nine Zero is a good jumping-off point to see and do just about anything in the city.
The Four Seasons is a well-known chain of luxury hotels, and its Boston location is no exception. With a stay at the foot of the city’s most fashionable shopping district of Newbury Street, you can make sure that you’ll be dressed to impress no matter what brings you to Boston. Those in the know will tell you that the Bristol Burger at the hotel’s restaurant is one of the best in town.
Whenever people stay here, they say the same thing: “I can’t believe this is a Residence Inn.” This little gem looks more like a WeWork than an extended-stay hotel – stylish with modern furniture and plenty of space to meet and work in the industrial-chic lobby. Most rooms have kitchenettes, which make it a feasible Airbnb alternative. Located in a converted historic building in the hip Seaport District, this hotel is an excellent option for those looking for a boutique vibe while still racking up loyalty points.
This Gatsby-esque hotel sits right in the middle of Boston’s famous Copley Square. It’s over 100 years old, and its early-20th-century opulence remains intact. Marble floors, lavish chandeliers and red upholstered lobby furniture might seem busy by today’s design standards, but it’s all part of the luxurious vibe. The Fairmont Copley Plaza is surrounded by some of Boston’s most celebrated architecture. The blue-glass John Hancock Tower rises over the hotel from across the street, while the Boston Public Library blends European classical and stark modern on the other side.
Just down the HarborWalk from the InterContinental is the classy Boston Harbor Hotel. The vibe is decidedly more old school than that of its neighbor, with a more antique Boston feel. But the harbor views are what people pay for here, and they are spectacular. In the summer, the hotel plays free, film-buff-approved movies right on the patio on the water. It’s a cool way to take in some fresh ocean air without feeling bad about looking at screens.
Two words: rooftop pool. That’s the killer feature of this mid-range hotel in Boston’s Back Bay. That and its proximity to Fenway Park make it a great choice for a summer visit. Imagine lounging by the water during the day, followed by an evening Sox game under the lights at Fenway. It’s a pretty perfect summertime itinerary.
For an excellent location, views of the Charles River, easy access to the Museum of Science and boutique service, check out the Kimpton Marlowe, located just a five-minute walk across the river on the Cambridge side. The amenities are numerous and hip, with bikes you can borrow for free to cruise the nearby riverbanks and city beyond, or kayak options to get right on the water, plus yoga mats in each room, an offer to go on a guided city run with the hotel GM, nightly movies in the courtyard and a wine reception in the lobby from 5pm till 6pm. They also loan Polaroid cameras to snap mementos of your trip and instantly produce wallet-size photos. With the Bambara Kitchen and Bar on the first floor, you don’t need to go far for excellent food options or to wind down with drinks.