It's Hotels Week 2013 here at Curbed Boston, and so we drop the first-ever Curbed Boston Hotels 18, our map of the most essential hotels in the Greater Boston region. We've picked a range of inns, from trendy boutiques (the Eliot, XV Beacon) to old-school stalwarts (the Fairmont Copley, the Omni Parker) to ultra-luxurious citadels (the W, the Four Seasons). These 18 hotels collectively represent hospitality in Greater Boston. But! That representation is fluid. We will be updating the Curbed Boston Hotels 18 periodically, so we want to hear from you (we always want to hear from you, you know that). Tell us which lodges should perhaps make the next list and which ones this go-round were a stretch on our part.Read More
The 18 Essential Greater Boston Hotels, June 2013
The Fairmont Copley Plaza
The 101-year-old dowager countess of Boston hotels, the 383-room Fairmont Copley is enviable for its higher-end aura: the entryway has been known as Peacock Alley (as in strutting) since the Jazz Age and John Kennedy’s grandfather, then the mayor of Boston, threw a party for 1,000 when the hotel opened. Room rates start above $300 and run to over $600. A 3,000-square-foot rooftop fitness club was added in 2012.
A hipper member of Boston’s higher-end, the W’s 235 rooms can actually start in the relatively affordable $200s, so long as you book at least a few days in advance. The hotel portion—floors 3 through 13—only opened in 2009, after funding troubles spawned by the Great Recession got in the way. The rest of the tower is luxury condos.
Opened in 1999, the 63-room XV Beacon was a game-changer: one of the first boutique hotels in New England. Its boutique-like feel remains undiminished—this is the hotel for business travelers too young to remember a world without high-speed Internet. Its sleek, black-and-white interior (and its steakhouse Mooo) was carved out of a 1903 Beaux-Arts building.
The InterContinental can get expensive really quickly: Rooms start well north of $300 and suites tickle $1,000. It is one of the priciest hotels in New England, and the surroundings and clientele reflect that: higher-end business travelers, Europeans spending a holiday in Boston, etc. Opened in 2006 off the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the posh tower also has 130 of some of the most expensive condos in Boston.
Omni Parker House
A rival to the Fairmount Copley in terms of old-school grandeur, the 551-room hotel went up in the late 1920s on the site of the old Parker House, which dated from just before the Civil War. (Also: JFK held his bachelor party there.) But! The Omni Parker is more affordable than the Fairmount: Rooms start in the $200s and rarely go higher. Make of the cheaper accommodations what you will.
The 273-room inn is one of Boston’s most recognizable branded hotels. As such, it does the hip-luxury thing pretty well, blending modern with traditional, business travelers just passing through with vacationers reveling in it all. The five-star hotel isn’t cheap, as you can imagine: Rooms start above $500 and some suites don’t even have listed prices—you have to just call.
One of Boston’s best-known branded hotels, the posh Mandarin Oriental has also been home to some of the city’s biggest condo sales ever (in fact, the biggest: $13,200,000 for a penthouse in 2011). The five-star, 148-room hotel is adjacent to the Prudential shops, making it the higher-end Boston hotel you don’t really leave—if you can afford to stay there: Rates start above $400 and quickly scale up to more than $1,000.
The 256-room, five-star hotel helped change the whole area, though it still has the feel of being out there on the water’s edge in the best and worst senses (i.e. fabulous views, but isolated). Room rates average as low as the high $300s to just under $1,000. You’ll find more vacationers than business travelers at the Boston Harbor.
The Colonnade has one of the best rooftop pools in all of Greater Boston (not a feature, by the way, of every hotel on our map). A $25 million redo—and the rooftop pool—turned the 285-room hotel into one of the region’s top boutiques (e.g., not for the business traveler). Rates hover in the $300s and $400s.
The Charles is usually the most expensive hotel in Cambridge, depending on when you book. Since its opening in 1984 (it replaced an empty lot), the 294-room inn has been a rite of passage for M.I.T. and Harvard parents—and proof you can charge $350-plus a night outside of downtown Boston.
The Westin Boston Waterfront
The Globe called the Westin’s 2006 opening “the Hub’s biggest in 22 years.” Indeed, the sheer scope of the hotel—790 rooms—places it on our map, but so does its connection to the largest convention center in New England. As you’d expect, it’s got the feel of a business-traveler/conventioneer hotel, with rates starting as low as the high $100s (seriously).
Renaissance Boston Waterfront
The 471-room hotel opened in early 2008 as Marriott’s attempt at a boutique-y inn in Boston. That largely still holds, though it’s unlikely the business travelers and conventioneers in the Renaissance Boston Waterfront really notice the boutique-y part. Rates hover in the $400s, some cheaper, some (rarely) more expensive.
Opened in 1998 and seriously redone in 2009, this 428-room hotel is a ground-breaker in green. It was, in fact, named one of America’s greenest hotels by Forbes Traveler in 2008, and has picked up several other awards to that effect. Big with business travelers as it’s near the World Trade Center and the Innovation District, room rates run from the $300s to just over $500.
This boutique on Back Bay’s western borderlands always garners props for its quiet elegance (Time magazine, in fact, called it “small and traditional without being stuffy”). The 95-room inn is more than a half-century old, and, speaking of props, Travel + Leisure in 2012 named it the No. 1 hotel in Massachusetts. Suites can run over $500, but regular rooms start at under $300, meaning this might be the best boutique on a budget in Boston.
When this 114-room inn opened at the tail end of last decade just north of the Financial District, it was noted for being a hip redo of an 1889 building—a trendy envelope-pusher, if you will, about what Boston boutiques can be. It’s not pushing any envelopes price-wise: The Ames, with rooms starting just south of $300, is competitive with other city boutiques.
Nine Zero Hotel
This 190-room Kimpton boutique opened in 2002, smack-dab in the middle of downtown Boston. It combines luxury amenities, like personal shoppers by request, with a sort of buzzy contemporariness that the city needs more of if it’s to retain its young (read: trendy, but not just for the sake of being trendy; it's functional). Best part for those young folk: Rooms can be had for under $300.
The 149-room inn cleans up on the TripAdvisor. More importantly for our purposes here, Hotel Commonwealth pushed the boundaries of Back Bay-type hospitality luxury ever so far into Fenway/Kenmore. The hotel’s supposedly a hit with Red Sox fans (get it?). It might not leave beer money leftover, though: Rooms start in the high $300s.
The Liberty Hotel
Just north of the Longfellow Bridge, the Liberty is kind of out of the way for Boston (as you can see). So it’s definitely more for tourists than for business travelers, a solid historical choice (it’s housed in the old Charles Street Jail, for one thing). The Liberty’s 300 rooms start as low as the low $200s—a real bargain on this map!