Marriott's Boston Custom House: A Marriott Vacation Club Resort Rating: 3.5 Pearls
It's housed in a historic 1847 building, but like most Marriott Vacation Club properties, all of the guest rooms are huge one-bedroom suites with kitchenettes and pullout couches. The location is another plus: The New England Aquarium, whale-watching boats, an IMAX theater, and over a hundred shops at Faneuil Hall are just across the street. And the in-house features and services include an arcade, staff-led historic walking tours or T-shirt-making workshops, free access to the pool at Marriott Long Wharf across the street, free laundry machines (and detergent!), and freshly baked cookies in the lobby. Cribs and rollaway beds are both free.
Residence Inn Boston Cambridge Rating: 3.0 Pearls
The apartment-style studios and one-bedroom suites at the Residence Inn each have full kitchens (dishwasher, electric stove, and microwave included) and are among the largest hotel rooms in Boston. The rooms alone make this hotel a compelling choice for families, but the deal is further sweetened by same-day grocery delivery (with no service change), a coin-operated laundry (for chronic spillers), and a free nightly reception in the lobby with snacks like chicken fingers, salad, and Goldfish crackers. Plus, there's an indoor pool -- a rarity at this price point.
The Westin Copley Place, Boston Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Located inside a mall-and-convention-center complex, the Westin Copley Place is largely a business-focused hotel. But the big rooms, heated indoor pool, kids' menus, and free welcome treats for kids (from the "toy wagon") make it a solid choice for families, especially with so many of Boston's major attractions -- the Public Garden, Boston Common, and the start of the Freedom Trail -- within walking distance.
Hotel Marlowe Rating: 4.0 Pearls
A "discovery" theme (hallway carpets patterned with stars and moons), kids' menus, large guest rooms, and lots of freebies -- welcome treats for kids, free use of bikes and kayaks, a free lending library of books, free cribs and playpens, free child-size bathrobes -- make Hotel Marlowe a great choice for families. Plus, across the street, hotel guests get free use of the telescopes at the Museum of Science observatory.
Royal Sonesta Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Although the 250-square-foot standard rooms (renovated in 2011) aren't especially large, they accommodate rollaway beds, whether your room has two doubles or a king -- and the price is right. Kids under 12 eat free off the children's menu at ArtBar, and both kids and adults will love the beautiful pool area, set under a retractable roof.
Four Seasons Boston Rating: 5.0 Pearls
For family-style luxury, the Four Seasons delivers -- free toys, welcome cookies, soda and popcorn (for older kids), child-size bathrobes, large guest rooms, and exceptional service that gives kids as much attention as business travelers. Plus, it has a beautiful pool and children's menus for the Bristol Lounge (which is a bit clubby) and in-room dining. But it's the location -- across the street from the Public Garden, a flowery park with a lake that features swan boat rides in the summer and ice-skating in the winter -- that most appeals to parents.
Courtyard By Marriott Boston Copley Square Rating: 3.0 Pearls
This former apartment building, built at the turn of the 20th century, has beautiful stone work and bay windows on the outside and big, new rooms on the inside. For a family of four, it's one of the least expensive places to stay near Copley Square, and just a short walk from Newbury Street, Boston Common, and the start of the Freedom Trail.
The Colonnade Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
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).