A team of Oyster reporters spent weeks exploring 48 of the top hotels in Boston. We slept in the beds, ate in the restaurants, tested the service, and scoped out the neighborhoods, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. Here’s a list of our favorite luxury hotels.
Amazing service, a park-front location, a great health club with a beautiful pool, an iconic restaurant, and 273 luxurious and spacious rooms combine to make this the top luxury property in Boston. If there's a flaw here, it's the guestroom bathrooms, which aren't as amazing as those at, say, the Mandarin -- but they were upgraded in 2012. Meanwhile, the service is the best in the city, with a staff that pays attention to every detail and isn't just responsive but proactively helpful. (One small but characteristic example: We were handed a bottle of water as we stepped off the treadmill and then informed that robes and slippers are available in the locker room.) And there is no more perfect location in Boston than this one overlooking the city's beautiful and iconic Public Garden.
The Mandarin Oriental, which opened in October 2008, lands at a close second. It aimed to do everything bigger and better and comes very close -- from its rooms, to its spa, to its fine dining. The relaxing, contemporary guest rooms are some of the largest in Boston and include luxury fittings like Frette sheets; deep tubs and marble showers; and big, 42-inch flat-screen TVs. Likewise, its award-winning spa is one of the largest and most luxurious in Boston. The service (which includes free rides in the house Mercedes) is, in typical Mandarin Oriental fashion, superb. And Asian-inspired Asana restaurant and the French L'Espalier (the latter helmed by James-Beard-Award-winning-chef Frank McClelland) are two of the finest dining spots in town.
Housed in a 1903 Beaux Arts building just down the street from the Boston Common in the gorgeous, residential Beacon Hill neighborhood, this cozy, 60-room boutique hotel combines traditional elegance and period details with thoughtfully designed modern conveniences like a bedside panel to control the fireplace. The service here is exceptional: Guests will often find personalized business cards and homemade desserts, like chocolate-covered apricots, waiting in the room upon arrival; and music and a crackling fireplace greets guests in their rooms after evening turndown.
Boston's grand dame, the Fairmont Copley Plaza has been welcoming guests into its opulent lobby with 21-foot-high, gilded coffered ceilings since 1912. Capped doormen rush to open doors and staff members warmly address guests by name, furthering the feel that you've stepped into a bygone era. Guest rooms, though small, are traditionally elegant and luxurious. And the romantic, wood-paneled Oak Room steakhouse and adjoining Oak Bar are among the most extravagant, beautiful dining establishments in Boston.
This gorgeous 1927 landmark building was, until 2007, a Ritz-Carlton property. The new owners knew better than to mess with a classic, though they did add some nice new perks, like chenille bathrobes and free rides in the house Jaguar. Given its free business center, well-equipped gym, and ideal location bordering the Public Garden and the swank boutiques along Newbury Street, it's an excellent luxury pick.
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 per-day fee, guests can access the spectacular Sports Club/LA (on-site) -- one of the best gyms in the city.
Sitting on Rowes Wharf overlooking the Boston Harbor, Boston's best waterfront luxury hotel embodies old Boston perfectly, with chandeliers, archways, tapestries, and a huge collection of antique New England maps, dating as far back as 1651. The lobby is filled with hand-carved wooden furniture, Italian marble, elaborate floral arrangements, and massive bay windows overlooking the yacht marina. Huge rooms with a mid-20th-century look are on the 8th to 16th floors of the building, ensuring beautiful views of the harbor or the city. A great spa and fitness center and a wine-centric restaurant add additional class, as do little perks like fresh fruit on every floor, a free car service within a two-mile radius, and free robes and workout clothes for the gym.
Just around the corner from the swank shopping along Newbury Street, this elegant Parisian-style boutique woos guests with its huge suites (save the few "Deluxe" Rooms that run smaller than the average hotel room in Boston). An award-winning French restaurant and a high-end sushi bar; free passes to the Boston Sports Club; and in-room touch-screens for scheduling room service, turndowns, and dinner reservations make the 95-room Eliot Suite Hotel a solid luxury choice.