Explorations and Curiosities
Where to sleep, sup, and sip in Harvard Square and beyond this spring
After a sleepy couple of years, Boston tourism is back with revamped hotels, exciting in-house restaurants, and packages that celebrate the city’s triumphant return. In the heart of Harvard Square, The Charles Hotel (www.charleshotel.com) is a classic with a modern edge. Bar Enza is their newish restaurant, founded by Michelin-starred chef Mark Ladner, renowned for New York City’s Del Posto. Tony Susi, one of the city’s best-known Italian chefs, is in charge of the kitchen. Grab a seat on the vast patio (heated on chilly nights) and sample the signature spicy lobster bucatini. In the morning, Henrietta’s Table serves traditional New England breakfasts: Don’t miss the cinnamon cranberry French toast.
A few blocks away, the stylish Porter Square Hotel (www.portersquarehotel.com) is home to Colette bistro, a vision in pastels and champagne-hued chandeliers. Enjoy staples like French onion soup and moules frites—or stroll to sister property Hotel 1868 (www.hotel1868.com) for a workout at their 24-hour fitness center. These hotels are located along one of Cambridge’s most exciting culinary stretches. Steps away, you’ll find cozy wine bar Dear Annie, recently named one of the country’s best new restaurants by Bon Appétit; Season to Taste, one of the neighborhood’s best-loved New American restaurants, now with a full cocktail program; Moeca, featuring global seafood from the team behind the area’s acclaimed Giulia Italian restaurant; and Bagelsaurus, where the line stretches for blocks on many mornings. (Get the black olive bagels.)
The Kimpton Marlowe (www.hotelmarlowe.com) enjoys an equally prime location, overlooking the Charles River on the border of Kendall Square: Relax with their Bed, Bath & Bubbles package, complete with spa treats, bubbly, and a $50 dining credit to their cozy Mediterranean restaurant, Bambara. Across the river, on the edge of Beacon Hill, The Liberty Hotel (www.libertyhotel.com) is known for Scampo, helmed by star chef Lydia Shire. It’s also the former site of the Charles Street Jail; enjoy a tour (you’ll even see preserved jail cells) capped off with champagne. Meanwhile, the newly renovated Langham, Boston (www.langhamhotels.com/en/the-langham/boston/) was once the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. This glamorous sanctuary in the heart of town caters to college visitors: Book a family room and dispatch a personal car and driver to Assembly Row to purchase dorm essentials or to tour your new campus. Meanwhile, guests planning to visit colleges receive 20 percent off the hotel’s best available rate with a college-themed treat at turndown.
Photograph courtesy of Boston Harbor Hotel
A few blocks away, the Boston Harbor Hotel (www.bostonharborhotel.com) is a waterfront landmark adjacent to the North End, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the Seaport, and downtown. Or stay put: In the spring, the hotel draws crowds for their sunset al fresco concert series on a floating barge. Traveling with a group? Book the 4,800-square-foot John Adams Presidential Suite, complete with private theater and panoramic terrace. Or check into the Ritz-Carlton (www.ritzcarlton.com) overlooking Boston Common—perfect for riding the famous swan boats, a springtime rite of passage. In the Seaport, the Omni is home to a year-round heated rooftop pool and a hot tub with skyline views, perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring (www.omnihotels.com).
Photograph courtesy of Contessa, Boston
Prefer shopping? Stay at The Newbury (www.thenewburyboston.com) on the edge of Back Bay. Newbury Street’s shops are just outside your door while their rooftop is home to Boston’s glamorous new Italian restaurant, Contessa, from Major Food Group, the New York City team behind Carbone and Torrisi. For extra star power on the other side of the neighborhood, check into the Mandarin Oriental (www.mandarinoriental.com), the new showcase for Ramsay’s Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay. And if history is more your cup of tea, book the Fairmont Copley Plaza (www.fairmont.com), whose teatime package includes tickets to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum and tea-themed cocktails and desserts.