The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau recently debuted a new identity: MeetBoston, with a message that “Boston Never Gets Old.” Boston has been a trailblazer in many areas, including hospitality (The Omni Parker is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the U.S. dating to 1855.)
There’s been a boom in new hotels and major renovations, especially in the last few years. Here is a sampling of some of Boston’s best hotels to visit this summer.
Raffles Boston Back Bay
The most anticipated hotel opening in Boston in years is expected to open this summer, the first week of July. It will be the luxury hotel company’s first North American debut, making the anticipation all that much greater. The mixed-use property will include 147 guestrooms and 146 residences in a new 35-story building with views of the Charles River and the Boston skyline. The brand’s signature Raffles Butler will be part of the hotel experience, and there will also be five food and beverage offerings, a Raffles Spa with a 20-meter indoor pool, and a rooftop garden terrace and lounge.
The Seaport’s most popular hotel, this 428-room property put the Seaport District on the map way before it had become Boston’s liveliest neighborhood. The hotel is also one of the greenest hotels in Boston with apiaries and herb gardens. It’s loved, too, for its indoor pool, grassy lawn area for traveling pets, and sunrise views over the waterfront and Boston Fish Pier from guest rooms—a gift for early risers.
Hotel AKA Back Bay
This 225-room Back Bay hotel (for many years, until recently, it was the Loews Boston Hotel) is undergoing a “complete design transformation” but remains open for the duration. It’s housed in an impressive limestone building, once upon a time the Boston Police Headquarters. The Precinct Kitchen + Bar is popular, especially in warm weather months with its outdoor patio and flat-screen TVs—an arresting spot for a cold Sam Adams and Red Sox game.
Photo: Hotel Commonwealth
This baseball-loving 245-room hotel, a swing from Fenway Park and the official hotel of the Boston Red Sox celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. And it’s also home to the new Blue Ribbon Sushi, which had been called up to replace the longtime Eastern Standard restaurant.
The Langham, Boston
Another classy hotel, the Langham has good bones—the 312-room and 18-suite property is housed in what was once the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The Langham was shuttered for a complete facelift, before reopening less than two years ago. Guests in Executive Rooms and any of the suites have privileges at The Langham Club, the 8th-floor lounge with all-day refreshments, including full breakfast, cocktail hour canapés, and bar service; other hotel guests can access the Club for $150 a day. There’s also a fitness center and 40-foot indoor lap pool, a sun Pavilion, and The Fed, a classy British-inspired cocktail bar for a cold pint.
Newbury Boston guestroom. Photo: Durston Saylor
The Newbury Boston
For many years, this hotel with the enviable Newbury Street address, was the Ritz-Carlton (and then, for a few years, the Taj.) Sustainability is important at The Newbury, including food and beverage—the roof is home to a colony of apiaries, and the honey is used in the hotel's speakeasy-inspired street-level Street Bar. But Contessa is Boston’s rooftop jewel—the polished, hard-to-get reservations restaurant shows off an Italian trattoria-inspired menu. Guest rooms are spacious and elegant with floor-to-ceiling window views of the Boston Public Garden.
Encore Boston Harbor
The five-star hotel is star-struck. It has many things going for it, including Rare, its five-star steakhouse, and its five-star Spa (and coveted award as the best spa in Boston by Boston Magazine.) The guest rooms are the largest in Boston, and the Encore is located on a six-acre waterfront Harborwalk. Bonus: Yacht transportation to and from Boston proper runs frequently, and the hotel also offers complimentary shuttle service to/from Fenway Park for guests who want to take in a Red Sox game. Oh, and there’s that on-site 2,700-plus slots casino.
Time travel: For nearly a century (96 years), the Ritz has charmed guests (room rates were $15 when it opened!) The Ritz still does pamper guests and has recently refurbished its elegant suites/guest rooms (expect influences from literary lions like Ralph Waldo Emerson). The Ritz-Carlton Club® Level is a hotel within a hotel with a concierge and daily breakfast, light snacks, hors d' oeuvres, beverages, spirits, and sweets—bonus: The retro-chic Avery Bar.
Boston Harbor Hotel
Located on the Boston Harbor waterfront at historic Rowes Wharf (boaters can dock and dine right outside the hotel), summertime means the hotel’s outdoor popular Summer in the City music and concert series on the floating barge (this year marks the 24th season.) The waterfront Sea Grille is where to take it all in, sunsets, too. And many of the 232 light-filled, handsome guest rooms have dazzling harbor views.
Credit: Lenox Hotel
The buzz about the classic Lenox that sits across the street from Boston Public Library in Back Bay is the apiaries on the rooftop—cocktails and select dishes are made with that uber-local honey in the hotel’s popular City Table restaurant. The hotel has 214 guestrooms (some with wood-burning fireplaces) but the experience is of a more intimate boutique hotel.
Kimpton Marlowe Hotel
Summertime in Boston is all about getting out on the water and celebrating life outdoors. This boutique hotel across the river in Cambridge gives guests free use of kayaks to take out on the Charles, and guest rooms have views of all the boating river activity. Also, the hotel’s popular #RunWithTheGM program invites runners to jog with the hotel’s GM or hotel manager along the Charles. Polaroid and GoPro cameras are also available for complimentary use during the visit.
Photo: Whitney Hotel Boston
The Whitney Hotel Boston
The 65-room boutique hotel in the Beacon Hill neighborhood has become a favorite spot not just for visitors to stay but locals, too, who come here for its Peregrine restaurant, which celebrates the cuisine and culture of Sardinia. Guestrooms are stylish with lovely views of Beacon Hill and the Charles River.
The Liberty Hotel
A true escape, this unique Beacon Hill hotel was once the Charles Street Jail dating back to the 19th century, and much of the building’s historic original architecture is still apparent. The weekly outdoor “Yappy Hours” for dogs is a hit, as is celebrity chef-owned restaurant Scampo (it means ‘to escape’ in Italian) by Lydia Shire—with a patio for outdoor eating in what was once the exercise yard for inmates.