A refreshingly small and intimate downtown hotel, the modern Ritz-Carlton Boston Common takes an urban, laid-back approach to luxury (as opposed to the more formal and traditional Four Seasons). The casual yet attentive staff hands out bottles of water upon arrival and urges new guests to sit down and relax, rather than rushing them straight to the check-in desk. On the walls hangs $1 million worth of local contemporary art. Tasteful guest rooms have all the high-end staples, like Frette linens and designer bath products. And for a $15-per-day fee, guests can access the spectacular Sports Club/LA (on-site) -- one of the best gyms in the city.
This classy hotel features the city's only rooftop pool, making it a hit with the kids during the summer. Kids' menus are available for in-room dining; and at 350 square feet, the standard rooms are large enough to accommodate a crib or rollaway bed (which are available for free).
Even in a city with historical significance around every corner, the Omni Parker House has a lot to boast about. Opened in 1855, the 551-room landmark is the longest continuously operating hotel in the country, and the first in Boston that offered running water and elevator service. The hotel's famous guests -- and former employees -- read like a laundry list of the political and cultural elite: Charles Dickens frequently stayed at the Parker House during his trips to the U.S., and it was here that he did the very first reading of A Christmas Carol on American soil for members of the Saturday Club literary group. Decades later, Ho Chi Minh worked as a baker in the basement kitchen, likely churning out the hotel's deservedly famous, eponymous Parker House Rolls. J.F.K. proposed to Jackie at a table at Parker's Restaurant, where Malcolm X once worked as a busboy. And then there's the ghost of a 19th-century whiskey salesman who lives in the closet of Room 303 and plants booze-soaked kisses on female guests.