Five of the best Boston hotel bars to see and be seen (even for locals!)

M Bar & Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston
M Bar & Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston

Ah, the hotel bar – although sometimes underrated, it can actually be home to some of the best bartenders and most creative concoctions around. There's something wonderful about hotel bars even for those who live in the same city; it's a chance to see first-hand the kind of traveler your city is attracting, and if you play your hand right, it's an opportunity for you to get to know a bartender well enough for him to divulge the secrets of the room to you. Some of the best people watching goes down in Boston's hotel bars, so we've offered up a few of our favorite hotel bars for your next trip to Beantown:

1. M Bar & Lounge, Mandarin Oriental: If elegance and extravagance is what you seek, look no further than M Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Boston. The new hotel sits pretty in Boston's trendy Back Bay and M Bar plays into the style and sophistication of the neighborhood. The crowd is a mix of high-rollers celebrating a new VC-deal and cougars on the prowl for cubs, and you'll enjoy a little bit of everything from your corner seat with a Mandarin Martini.

2. Minibar at The Copley Square Hotel: The name of this little space says it all - it's a mini-bar, set right in the middle of the lobby so you can watch all the comings-and-goings of the night, into the late-late-night. Make your own martini from the minibar's "mixers list" or have the bartender create you something special. If the mood strikes, you can always get 'in.2.it' in one of the hotel's sexy little rooms upstairs.

3. RumBa at InterContinental Boston: The InterContinental Boston on the Waterfront is always packed with people - whether it's for a business meeting or a shot of tequila at the hotel's Sushi-Teq restaurant, there's always something going down at the hotel and the epi-center of the fun is Rumba, the hotel's lobby bar. Known mostly for its champagnes and mixed cocktails, Rumba is also one of the best people-watching spots in the city. Cop-a-squat in one of the vintage red leather wing-back chairs and watch the evening unfold in front of you.

4. Liberty Bar, Liberty Hotel: Imagine opening up a bar in the middle of a minimum-security prison. Now imagine unleashing the inmates into the bar. Enter: Liberty Bar at the Liberty Hotel. The open area plays host to some of the slinkiest black dresses and shiniest black shirts. If the cast of the Jersey Shore opened up their closet to the masses, the masses would take their new duds to the Liberty Bar. This is the ultimate see-and-be-seen-on-a-Saturday-night locale, and if you're anyone who knows anyone, you'll be at the Liberty Bar. Hint: get there early and grab a seat on one of the red velvet sofas throughout the bar. You'll have the best viewing spot of the evening, and likely meet a few friends who want to share your space.

5. Bond at the Langham Hotel: Bond is everything you'd expect it to be - it's dark, classy and a little daring. Don't be surprised if the bar is full at 4 p.m. on a Monday - thanks to its location in Boston's Financial District, Bond is no stranger to the martini lunch and pin-stripe suits. The place livens up a bit after 6 p.m., but the lights stay dim throughout the day.

Minibar at The Copley Square Hotel
Minibar at The Copley Square Hotel

Honorable Mentions:

Oak Room, The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel: If stogies and scotch are your thing, the Oak Bar is your haven. The room is dark, the jazz is fierce and the martinis are ice cold, straight from the bucket.

Bristol Lounge, Four Seasons Boston: The Bristol Lounge is where opulence meets decadence, wrapped up in a pretty chocolate bow. On a Friday night the hotel rolls out its dessert bar, which serves as the perfect comfort food for your people watching.

The Colonnade Hotel: We're giving this hotel props for its summertime digs. The Colonnade Hotel knows how to do summer right with a rooftop pool and bar for hotel guests and city-dwellers.

- Melanie Nayer of MelanieNayer.com

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