Hotel Spotlight

This Boston Hotel Brings Luxury to the Waterfront

by Nick Papa
Boston All photos courtesy of Boston Harbor Hotel.

Boston Harbor Hotel
Boston, MA
Classic, $$$

America was born on the waterfront, and the luxurious Boston Harbor Hotel is a stone’s throw from landmarks that date back to the birth of the nation. The hotel itself is modern — built in 1987 as the anchor of the iconic Rowes Wharf building and refreshed in 2022 — and has since achieved its own local landmark status, along with five stars from Forbes and five diamonds from AAA.

If you can peel yourself away from the harbor view from your guest room window, you'll find much to do. Have a five-star picnic on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Order or a socially responsible IPA (really!) at Brewer’s Alley x Maine Beer Co. or sip a rare scotch at Rowes Wharf Bar. Indulge a seafood tower at Rowes Wharf Sea Grille. Shop for housewares at Home at Rowes Wharf, the hotel boutique designed with creative director Meg Kimball. Take wellness to the next level at the 24/7 fitness center and in the 60-foot lap pool. Everywhere you look, this is a Boston grand dame for the history books.

Book It

Click here for reservations, and don't forget to check for special offers the hotel may be running. Pro tip: For the best treatment and care, cut out the middleman and book directly with the hotel.

At a Glance

The Vibe: Glorious maritime glitz. Even after a $12 million renovation in the 2000s, it's clear the hotel was built in the 1980s — an era of excess. With its marble lobby and large, spacious guest rooms, the sheer size of this showy hotel is designed to impress.

Standout Detail: The dramatic, 60-foot-tall archway that connects downtown Boston to the waterfront. The Roman-style structure is itself a recognizable feature of the city’s skyline.

This Place Is Perfect For: New Englanders with an affinity for Vineyard Vines; maritime-minded travelers who arrive by boat and dock in the full-service, 34-slip marina that's mega-yacht accessible.

Rooms: The 232 rooms at Boston Harbor Hotel are among the largest in the city. Each has a water or city view — be sure to request a room overlooking the harbor. Free WiFi, a wired Smart TV, a big working desk, and a marble bathroom with a rainfall shower are standard features. Frette linens, Diptyque bath products, and 24-hour room service from Rowes Wharf Sea Grille add touches of luxury. Want to splurge? Book the John Adams Presidential Suite. You’ll ride your own private elevator up to the ultimate hotel suite in Boston — a palatial 4,800-square-foot space with a 1,000-square-foot outdoor terrace overlooking Boston Harbor. Yeah: You're a boss.

On Site: The wellness options include a fully equipped 24-hour fitness center with locker rooms, saunas, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, a 60-foot lap pool. History buffs will enjoy the hotel’s Magellan Gallery — home to the second-largest collection of historic maps in Boston. Design aficionados will be tempted by everything at Home at Rowes Wharf. Seasonal programs include Summer in the City Entertainment Series, with weekly live music on a barge behind the hotel, and the Boston Wine & Food Festival.

Food + Drink: The raw bar is a draw at Rowes Wharf Sea Grille, where the seafood tower overflows with littleneck clams, New England oysters, and jumbo shrimp. The restaurant serves all three meals, as well as a seasonal afternoon tea service. At the cozy, wood-paneled Rowes Wharf Bar, you’ll find much more than a traditional bar menu. Come with an appetite for the oysters and scotch pairings. Or end the night with a half-ounce of century-old Louis XIII cognac. Socially responsible pours are on offer at Brewer’s Alley x Maine Beer Co.

What to Do Nearby

Make use of the house car, which will give you a complimentary ride anywhere within a two-mile radius of the hotel. At the famous Faneuil Hall — three historic, centuries-old market buildings — shop for Martha’s Vineyard-inspired apparel. From there, join the Freedom Trail tour to hit the highlights of Boston’s revolutionary past. Further afield, head to Fenway Park to see die-hard Red Sox fans cheer on their home team. Or to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum — an Italian-inspired palazzo that houses Italian Renaissance and Dutch Golden Age paintings, plus a stunning courtyard.

Keep Exploring Boston

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Fathom's Guide to Boston

This article was originally published in 2019 and was updated in 2023. At Fathom, we cover places that stand the test of time.

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.