Where to Stay in Boston: Best Areas & Hotels
The Freedom Trail leads past the city's main historical attractions and begins on Boston Common, in the heart of downtown. Several highly-rated hotels lie right on the Freedom Trail or within a short distance of its route, making them good places to stay for sightseeing. A number of other fine hotels overlook Boston's waterfront, not far off the route of the Freedom Trail as it heads toward Old North Church and Paul Revere's House in the North End. The waterfront extends southeast into a relatively new lodging and dining area called the Seaport, which includes both the World Trade Center and the Boston Convention Center.
Several more of Boston's foremost sights are in Back Bay, which lies in the other direction from the Common, near Copley Square and beyond, along Huntington Avenue. This is where you'll find the city's three foremost cultural attractions: Symphony Hall and two major art museums. When deciding where to stay in Boston, consider looking across the river in Cambridge, around Harvard Square, where another cluster of attractions lie. Connected by a direct subway line to Park Street (at the Boston Common), the Harvard Square area is a good place to stay, with shopping, restaurants, and a wealth of cultural activities, but handy to downtown Boston.
Where to Stay for Sightseeing
Because Boston's attractions and most popular things to do tend to cluster into different neighborhoods, no one place is central to all the top sights. But getting from one area to another is very easy with Boston's efficient T, the underground transit system. Right along the famous Freedom Trail, the luxurious XV Beacon stands next to the State House on historic Beacon Hill, with ultra-contemporary rooms overlooking Boston Common. A town car is on call to take guests to appointments and dinner. Also along the Freedom Trail, opposite the Old State House, Ames Boston Hotel is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. The building itself is a historic and architectural landmark, beautifully restored and repurposed as a luxury hotel with a boutique feel.
In the nearby theater district, only a block from the Common and Freedom Trail, The Godfrey Hotel Boston is an outstanding example of 19th-century mercantile building that has been restored and converted into a stylish hotel. Breakfast is included in the rate.
At the foot of atmospheric Beacon Hill, Charles Street leads directly to the Public Garden and Common, handy to all the downtown sights. Among its smart boutiques and restaurants, you'll find the John Jeffries House, especially popular with solo travelers for its economical single rooms. The Charles Street Station for the Red Line is a few steps away, connecting directly to Charles Street and Harvard Square. Close to the Public Garden on the beautiful, wide tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue The College Club of Boston occupies a distinguished "brownstone" in one of Boston's most prestigious old neighborhoods. Single rooms are available here, and prices are reasonable for such a convenient location.
Where to Stay for Luxury
Although Bostonians are known for their lack of ostentation and show, the city certainly doesn't lack in fine luxury hotels, whether you prefer classic continental grandeur or chic contemporary style. The undisputed Grand Dame of Boston luxury hotels is the Fairmont Copley Plaza, a landmark of elegance since it opened in 1912. Its location doesn't get much better, overlooking beautiful Copley Square, with the stately Boston Public Library and Trinity Church as its neighbors. The interior is nothing short of sumptuous and the service matches. Just around the corner and with quite a different style but equally luxurious is the Mandarin Oriental, Boston. The art collection displayed in its spacious lobby, restaurant, and public rooms is spectacular, and the guest rooms are elegant with exotic touches.
With rooms overlooking the leafy Public Garden and its famous swan boats, Four Seasons Hotel Boston exudes style. The spacious lobby is decorated with magnificent floral arrangements, and the rooms are stylish and supremely comfortable. The house car for local transport is a welcome amenity. In the heart of the financial district, close to the waterfront attractions and not far from the Common, The Langham, Boston has all the grace of a classic old hotel, beautifully updated for modern guests, with a pool and well-equipped fitness center.
Where to Stay for the Best Value
Stretching from the North End Italian neighborhood to the smart new Seaport area, Boston's waterfront puts travelers close to harbor cruises, the New England Aquarium, seafood and Italian restaurants, and historic sites. In a handy location adjacent to a subway station, Boston Marriott Long Wharf has a stair-step architecture that gives most of its spacious rooms sweeping views of Boston Harbor.
At the other end of the long harborside promenade and opposite the World Trade Center, the luxurious rooms at Seaport Boston Hotel also give guests good views across Boston Harbor and the downtown skyline. The no-tipping policy for the excellent service in the hotel and its restaurants adds to the value, and the pool makes it popular with families. In the same neighborhood, Residence Inn Boston Downtown Seaport is steps from the Boston Children's Museum and Boston Tea Party Ships.
Where to Stay on a Budget
With a convenient location in the lively South End, near the Public Garden and an easy walk from the theater district, Chandler Inn is popular with young travelers for its relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, and small but comfortable rooms. Near Symphony Hall and Copley Square attractions, The Midtown Hotel adds a pool to its attractions and welcomes pets.
Travelers attending sport and entertainment events at TD Garden will like the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Boston Garden, also close to the North End Italian neighborhood and Quincy Market.
Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge connects Harvard Square to Porter Square, both on the Red Line T with direct trains to Park Street (Boston Common). An easy walk to either square, hospitable Mary Prentiss Inn includes free parking and breakfast in its budget-friendly rates. Right on Mass Ave next to the Porter Square subway station, Porter Square Hotel has accommodating staff and small rooms with good modern tech features. Porter Square offers good shopping and restaurant options.
Where to Stay for Couples
Lushly decorated rooms and suites at Gryphon House overlook the Charles River or a tree-lined street just off Kenmore Square. Original antique features, fireplaces, and warm hospitality make this a perfect spot for a romantic getaway, with easy access to sightseeing. Ask for a corner room on an upper floor at The Boxer Boston, for panoramic views from the king-sized beds. This smart boutique hotel occupies a "flat-iron" building just around the corner from the TD Garden sport and entertainment venue, not far from the North End and Quincy Market.
Stroll hand-in-hand down Commonwealth Avenue's tree-lined promenade, admiring the beautiful old Brahmin homes surrounding the boutique Eliot Hotel. Inside, rooms with marble baths, French doors, and views over Back Bay exude understated luxury.
Large windows reveal sweeping views over Boston's harbor from spacious guest rooms at the contemporary Battery Wharf Hotel, Boston Waterfront. Relax in the Exhale Spa or walk less than five minutes to the Freedom Trail or the Italian restaurants and cafés of the North End.
Where to Stay for Families
Boston has so many tourist attractions that are perfect for children - the New England Aquarium, Tea Party Ships, and excellent science and children's museums among them - that Boston hotels make special efforts to welcome families. None does it better than Royal Sonesta Boston, overlooking the Charles River in Cambridge, next to the Museum of Science. The atrium-style pool is a favorite, and family packages include a two-room suite, museum tickets, and complimentary milk and cookies at bedtime.
Across the street from the Sonesta, Kimpton Marlowe Hotel doesn't have a pool, but guests are welcome to explore the Charles River and its banks with free hotel bikes and kayaks. Parents of toddlers will welcome the free child-safety kits with outlet covers, latches, and nightlights; they'll even loan your child a pet goldfish to look after.
Children are charmed by the rubber duckies in the bath and the rooftop pool at Colonnade Hotel, opposite the Prudential Center in Back Bay. The T station just below the hotel makes getting around the city easy. Overlooking the waterfront and only steps from the Children's Museum and Tea Party Ships, the sleek glass towers of the InterContinental Boston stand out as a landmark. Along with family-sized rooms and suites, the pet-friendly hotel has a pool.
Where to Stay for a Cool Vibe
Right across the street from the Boston Convention Center and handy to the restaurants in Boston's newest dining district, Aloft Boston Seaport led the way with Boston's first voice-command Siri system for in-room lights, alarm, and temperature settings, etc. That makes a stay more fun, but evening live acoustic concerts and the comfortable lounge area in the lobby make this hotel even more appealing. A small indoor pool opens onto a terrace in the summer for more social space.
Next door to Aloft, environmentally-conscious Element Boston Seaport also offers plenty of chance to meet other guests, with a complimentary evening social hour in the spacious lobby. The buffet breakfast is also included and offers a vegetarian choice among the hot options. A pool and exceptionally well-equipped fitness room are plusses. For a rock 'n' roll vibe, complete with a vinyl library and in-room turntables, The Verb Hotel is next to Fenway Park, a plus for Red Sox fans. Boston's two major art museums are a short walk away, and walkers will enjoy the paths through the Fens. Some rooms have balconies.