Unlike other US cities, Boston feels heavy with history. Everywhere you look, there are flashbacks to earlier times — from the points on the Freedom Trail, leading you round the sites where the American Revolution was planned, to the narrow cobbled lanes and pretty brick houses of its nine historic districts. Across the river, of course, are the hallowed halls of Harvard, where history has often been made. Yet at the same time, this is a forward-looking, young-spirited city — pushed in no small part by the academic population — so although it’s one of the best places in the US to find small inns and historical hotels, they never feel fusty. In fact some of them are anything but.
A stay at this Back Bay property sweeps you back to its 1925 origins, with its beaux arts facade, marble-swathed lobby and original check-in desk. Most rooms are space-generous suites and since they’re only about £20 more than standard rooms, they’re worth the upgrade. Decor is calm and the marble bathrooms are as blingy as it gets. Doubles from £191, room only.
The Alise is Beantown’s newest opening, though you wouldn’t really know it from its sober brick facade amid South End’s Victorian houses. It works that Boston synergy of old and new to the max, with the Old-World feel outside giving way to a thoroughly modern experience inside. The decor is playful — and sometimes errs on the right side of cheeky: pillows are embossed with pineapples and inscribed with ‘sleep with me’. The 56 rooms may be on the small side for America, but they’re comfy, staff are remarkably friendly, and the Trophy Room restaurant looks set to be one of the South End’s must-brunch locations. Doubles from £118, room only.
Across the river from Boston proper, this has been an inn for academically minded visitors since 1945. There’s a homely feel and a shared bathroom for two of the rooms. Books and postcards are dotted around for guests to take and send at the owners’ expense. And then there’s breakfast — expect bacon and leek tartlets, and egg and cheese popovers. Doubles from £71, B&B.
The line between inn and hotel are beautifully blurred at these top-notch boutique digs. This 1867 townhouse in the South End area has been beautifully restored. Original features including doors and stucco mouldings have been paired with Frette linen and cult Fresh toiletries. Doubles from £170, B&B.
Published in the September 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)