Boston Harbor Hotel
Classic, $$$ ($350)
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. But the hotel itself is a modern one — built in 1987 as the anchor of the iconic Rowes Wharf building. Peel yourself away from the harbor view from your guest room window long enough to discover a private health-club style fitness center, restaurants helmed by a notable local chef (who founded the Boston Wine Festival), and a unique gallery of historic maps. This is a Boston grand dame for the history books.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Glorious maritime glitz. Even after a $12 million renovation in 2007, 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.
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 flat-screen TV, and a marble bathroom with a rainfall shower are standard features. Frette linens, Lorenza Villoressi toiletries, 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.
On Site: Take a dip in the 60-foot saltwater pool — a feature of the on-site spa. It also has a 24-hour fitness center, sauna, and steam room. During the summer, there’s weekly live music on a barge behind the hotel; during the winter, you can hit the on-site ice skating rink. History buffs will enjoy the hotel’s Magellan Gallery — home to the second-largest collection of historic maps in Boston.
Food + Drink: Meritage is an elegant Italian restaurant helmed by chef Daniel Bruce, founder of the Boston Wine Festival. Go for the extensive wine offering, which includes more than 700 labels (100 are under $100). Order from the vineyard-to-table menu, which pairs each plate with a glass of wine from one of the world’s best winemaking regions. Ōra King salmon, for example, comes with a glass of fruity, medium-bodied 2014 Villa Russiz Collio Friulano from Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia region.
The raw bar is the main draw at Rowes Wharf Sea Grill, where the seafood tower is overflowing with cherrystone clams, New England oysters, and jumbo shrimp. The restaurant offers all three meals, as well as an afternoon tea service and cocktails. 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.
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.