Travel

In-town hotels make you feel on top of the world

These hotels get high marks, and we can see why

“Stunning” is how several recent guests described the Parkview Suite at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common.

Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common

“Stunning” is how several recent guests described the Parkview Suite at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common.

Boston was recently named a Top 10 City to Stay in 2015, by www.trivago.com, the world’s largest online hotel search site, beating out such other popular destinations as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Miami. The survey, using millions of online guest reviews, analyzed hotels across the United States to determine the cities with the highest quality accommodations. We’re not surprised; but how do you choose the best hotel for your in-town getaway? We did some work for you, scouring trivago.com ratings and reviews, along with other top booking sites, like TripAdvisor, Expedia and
hotels.com, and then checked out the top-ranked hotels ourselves. Here are 10 to consider.

A word about rates: They vary greatly depending on what’s happening in the city. According to a recent survey cited by the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, the average room rate in 2014 was $238.55. Check booking engines and individual hotel sites for the best deals. Bad news (at least for us consumers): Boston’s hotel occupancy rate in 2014 was 81.6 percent. And projections are for rates to remain at least that high this year.

Luxury splurge

Fresh off of a recent renovation, the rooms at the Hotel Commonwealth are spacious and handsome, done up in soothing palettes with houndstooth fabrics and custom furnishings.

Hotel Commonwealth

Fresh off of a recent renovation, the rooms at the Hotel Commonwealth are spacious and handsome, done up in soothing palettes with houndstooth fabrics and custom furnishings.

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Remember the view of the Massachusetts State House’s gold dome that Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) had from his luxury penthouse apartment in the film “The Departed”? You’ll have it — and more — from the newly renovated Parkview Suite at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common. “Stunning” is how several recent guests described it. We couldn’t agree more; there are no finer, cityscape views in Boston. The sophisticated, sleek suite has floor to ceiling windows giving guests a sweeping view across the city, clear to the Charles River and Citgo sign and around to that gleaming gold dome. The views are what will impress you when you walk in, but the custom-designed, contemporary decor, sleek lighting, modern bath, and plush bed complete the picture. You could dine at the hotel’s farm-to-table Artisan Bistro or in the handsome Avery Bar, but we’d order room service and invite a few friends over instead. And, the only thing that will get you out of this room the next morning is a massage appointment downstairs at the Equinox spa. Don’t want to splurge for the suite? You’ll feel pampered in any room here. 10 Avery St., 617-574-7100, www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/BostonCommon/Information/
Default.htm

Classy and contemporary

The Hotel Commonwealth , the official hotel of the Boston Red Sox, hovers near the top of all listings. It’s named the “best ranked four-star hotel in Boston” by trivago.com, grabbing the number two spot with a 92.80 percent rating. Guests are downright effusive about their stays at this Kenmore Square property, with its perfect melding of classic elegance and contemporary vibe, and a staff that is eager to please. Fresh off a renovation, rooms are spacious and handsome, done up in soothing palettes with houndstooth fabrics and custom furnishings. For something playful and unique, consider staying in one of the three new themed suites. The Rathskeller Suite is a tribute to “The Rat” live music club that stood where the hotel is now, and has a graffiti-inspired headboard and an iPod loaded with music that was performed at the club. The Terrier Suite is a tribute to neighboring Boston University, with a locker minibar and hockey gloves from the Terrier team. The Loft, reminiscent of an artist’s studio, has vaulted ceilings, exposed brick and original artwork. This fall, the hotel will complete a 96-room expansion, including two suites with walk-out balconies facing Fenway Park. Bring your glove! 500 Common-

wealth Ave., 617-933-5000, www.hotelcommonwealth.com

Foodie’s choice

Meritage restaurant at the Boston Harbor Hotel has a new sleek, contemporary look, expanded bar area, and brand new wine-centric menus.

Boston Harbor Hotel

Meritage restaurant at the Boston Harbor Hotel has a new sleek, contemporary look, expanded bar area, and brand new wine-centric menus.

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Guests praise the top-notch service, central location, and harbor views at the Boston Harbor Hotel, giving it an exceptional 96 rating on Expedia and a third-place 91.54 percent rating on trivago.com. But what makes it a true standout is the dining at the Meritage restaurant, run by award-winning chef Daniel Bruce. And, if it was good before, it’s even better now, with a sleek, contemporary renovation, expanded bar area, and brand new wine-centric menus. The white wine pairing menu features dishes such as a duet of crab bisque and Jonah crab cake, lobster and ricotta gnocchi, and a pork belly cannelloni. The red wine pairing menu offers duck and rhubarb tortellini, five-spice tuna, cabernet-braised short ribs, and stuffed squash blossoms. You’ll want to spend two nights here, so you can also dine al fresco, overlooking the harbor, at the hotel’s Sea Grille restaurant, also under the direction of Bruce. Rooms are a bit old-fashioned but these too are scheduled for a makeover this fall. 70 Rowes

Wharf, 617-439-7000, www.bhh.com

Classic elegance

“A beautiful boutique hotel” and “friendly service” are comments echoed by several guests of the Lenox Hotel in Back Bay. It has a 91.48 percent rating on trivago.com and 94 percent on both Expedia and hotels.com. Housed in an 11-story Beaux Arts building, once the tallest in Boston, the family-owned property fuses Old World charm with modern amenities and unpretentious service. Rooms retain a sense of history with original woodwork and traditional furnishings; some have wood-burning fireplaces. But the accommodations are anything but old-fashioned. You’ll find updated baths, flat screen TVs, ergonomic chairs, a 24-hour fitness center, and complimentary in-town car service. The lobby is always buzzing with guests and locals, spilling into City Table for creative comfort food, the handsome City Bar, or the popular Solas Irish pub. Adding to the all-around, feel-good vibe of this place is the hotel’s commitment to the environment. There’s energy- efficient lighting in rooms and hallways, green cleaning products, recycling, energy-saving thermostats, a hybrid house car, and a curbside electric vehicle charging station. 61 Exeter St., 617-536-5300,

www.lenoxhotel.com

Pampering oasis

The frenetic energy of Boylston Street softens the moment you step into the serene, five-star Mandarin Oriental. It grabbed the 10th spot in the trivago.com survey of Boston hotels, and has a 94 percent ranking on Expedia. Known for its over-the-top, anticipatory service, it’s an oasis of class and understated elegance. Restrained interiors feature wood and stone surfaces, punctuated with Oriental flourishes: a well-placed, blooming orchid, a cluster of red vases, an Asian print wall hanging. There are 148 cocooning rooms spread across 14 floors, with Back Bay or inner courtyard views. Expect refined furnishings, a taupe and teal palette, silk curtains, marble baths, and beds dressed in sumptuous linens and soft goose down duvets. A stay here would not be complete without a visit to The Spa, a quiet, calm sanctuary with quartz crystal steam rooms, vitality pools, experience showers, ice fountains, and relaxation lounges. It’s the only Forbes five-star spa in Massachusetts. 776 Boylston St., 617-535-8888, www.mandarinoriental.com/boston

The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental is a quiet, calm sanctuary with Quartz crystal steam rooms, vitality pools, experience showers, ice fountains and relaxation lounges.

Mandarin Oriental

The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental is a quiet, calm sanctuary with Quartz crystal steam rooms, vitality pools, experience showers, ice fountains and relaxation lounges.

Bargain hunter’s finds

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We’ll give a shout-out to Hotel 140 (140 Clarendon St., 617-585-5600, www.hotel140.com) for consistently offering some of the best rates in Boston. Rooms are smallish but white-glove clean, with flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi, and the Back Bay location is hard to beat. If you’re looking for simple, comfy digs, check it out. If you’re up for an adventure, how about staying aboard the Liberty Fleet tall ship (67 Long Wharf, 617-742-0333, www
.libertyfleet.com
, June-September )
in Boston Harbor? Rooms are rustic, and you’ll share a common bath (think: hostel on water), but the location is fun and the price can’t be beat, starting at $55 a night. If you’re a more discerning traveler, the Euro-style Charlesmark Hotel at Copley Square (655 Boylston St., 617-247-1212, www.charlesmarkhotel.com) offers decent value for its great location. The 40 snug rooms have contemporary, custom-built furnishings to maximize space, and all the high-tech bells and whistles.

Liberty Fleet Tall Ship

Quarters may be tight aboard the Liberty Fleet tall ship but the water views are great.

Family-friendly digs

Marriott’s Custom House, housed in a historic Greek Revival-style building, retains much of its character, including a soaring, domed lobby area, high ceilings, and wooden beams. But that’s not what will impress your kids. They’ll be more interested in the free cookies in the lobby, free access to the Marriott Long Wharf pool across the street, and the fact that they’re walking distance to top attractions like the aquarium and Faneuil Hall. It didn’t make the top 10 trivago.com list but TripAdvisor puts it in the number 10 spot out of its 77 listed hotels in Boston, with a 4.5 rating. We think it’s a fine option for traveling families. Spacious suites have kitchenettes and separate living and dining areas, and water or city views. Speaking of views: Don’t miss a trip to the 26th floor observation deck. 3 McKinley Square,

617-310-6300, www.marriott.com/

hotels/travel/bosch-marriotts-custom-

house/

Inn style

Tucked in a quiet South End neighborhood is one of the top-ranked hotels in the city. The Clarendon Square Bed and Breakfast is a stylish haven, housed in an 1860s brownstone, and walking distance to shops and restaurants. The boutique-style B&B grabbed first place in the trivago.com survey, receiving a whopping 93.43 percent rating. The six-story converted home has been thoughtfully curated with a mix of traditional details (think: woodwork, marble fireplaces, curvy staircases) and splashes of contemporary decor and artwork. Rooms have luxurious bathrooms, rich fabrics, and lush linens. The parlor and library are great places to hang out with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and the rooftop deck, with a hot tub, is the perfect spot to watch the city lights come on. 198 West Brook-

line St., 617-536-2229, www.clarendon

square.com

The Clarendon Square B & B has a mix of traditional details (think: woodwork, marble fireplaces and curvy staircases) and splashes of contemporary decor and artwork.

Clarendon Square B&B

The Clarendon Square B & B has a mix of traditional details (think: woodwork, marble fireplaces and curvy staircases) and splashes of contemporary decor and artwork.

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@gmail.com.
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