Boston Travel Guide
Growing herbs on a rooftop? Been there, done that. It was our first post-college apartment, man. It was pretty tight. But then we realized our Doritos budget was climbing higher than the cable bill, and our roommate started dating a cop, so…
Oh, never mind. Apparently the Copley Square Hotel is growing very different kinds of herb on a new rooftop garden that it rolled out this summer. Basil, thyme, tarragon, mint and rosemary are all sprouting up atop the Back Bay property, and they’re plucked fresh for starring roles in a new herb-focused cocktail menu at its restaurant, Xhale.
There, tarragon is combined with grapefruit for a summery take on a gin & tonic. Rooftop basil is muddled with blueberries in lemonade, and then spiked with rum for a refreshing “Crush.” And chef Alex Deamicis is using the garden’s thyme to create a simple syrup that is combined with honey and whiskey. All sound intoxicating.
Watch your back, 90210.
According to a just-released report from CityLab, Boston zip code 02199 — which reflects the city’s tony Back Bay neighborhood — is among the 10 Most Expensive Zip Codes in America. With median home values of $3.3 million, the Back Bay is #5 — not far behind Lisa, Kyle, and Brandi’s champagne-soaked stomping grounds ($3.5 million). And if that surprises you, it’s only because wealthy Bostonians are perfectly content to bankroll hospitals and universities instead of launching flavored vodka lines or publicizing-slash-embarrassing themselves on TV. [Sips tea.]
Point is, perhaps it’s no surprise that a new Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts in the Back Bay will make Boston one of only a few international cities with multiple properties from the brand.
“Hey, let’s head down to that sexy Sheraton Boston Hotel for a luxurious massage and decadent dinner,” said Nobody Ever, Not Once.
With all due respect to the Back Bay property, it hasn’t generally boasted a lot of appeal outside the convention set. But today the Sheraton caps a multi-million dollar renovation by rolling out a brand spanking-new spa: Green Tangerine Spa & Salon, the only Sheraton outpost of the locally-based brand, which has just three other locations in Massachusetts and two in Connecticut. The 5,500-square foot facility offers haircuts, manicures, massages and skincare treatments at prices that are quite competitive when compared to the spas on nearby Newbury Street. So it may actually lure locals, besides the inevitable conventioneers getting their talons polished before marathon handshake sessions.
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Last week it was announced that Boston is on the short list of American cities being considered for the US bid to host the 2024 Olympics. The news has some people pumped, a lot of other people preemptively horrified at the prospect.
But here’s an Olympics-related invitation we can all agree on: “Row Like a Pro” at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston. Fitness-related hotel packages are very on-trend lately; check out this recently announced Running Camp in Jackson Hole. And as befitting a storied, tony brand, the Four Seasons is pulling in the crème de la crème of athletes for this one.
Available only on September 7, 13, 21 and 28, 2014, the “Row” package lets guests take a private two-hour row with one of several Olympic champs, including 2012 gold medalist Esther Lofgren. You’ll hit the Charles River, passing picturesque Boston landmarks before ending at the finish line of Head of the Charles, America’s largest regatta, held every October.
It’s a tale as old as time: You get a pool. Your neighbor gets a pool. You add a hot tub. Your neighbor adds a bigger hot tub and builds a deck. You build a bigger deck, add a grill the size of a Buick, and throw a massive summer block party that becomes the talk of the neighborhood for generations hence. Your children’s children will tell tales of these kebabs.
Pool Wars: Suburbia Edition.
City hotels aren’t immune from wanting to keep up with the Joneses. So we can't help but wonder if last summer’s rollout of Rooftop @ Revere, the Revere Hotel Boston Common’s swanky seventh-floor hangout for sipping, sunning and swimming, was a contributing factor to the Colonnade Boston Hotel's splashy redo of its rooftop pool.
This summer’s heightened Colonnade experience still boasts the city’s only outdoor roof top pool. (The Revere’s pool is in a glass-enclosed annex to the terrace.) But added to the scene are billowing white cabanas available for private rental, a 12-seat full service bar, and plenty of chic new lounging areas set upon oh-so-tropical bamboo flooring.
You’ll be able to tipple pitcher cocktails with your fellow sun worshippers, and nibble on a new rooftop food menu that includes spicy rubbed swordfish tacos and Regina Pizzeria pies. (At this point, presumably, you’re already bathing suit-ready.)
[Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Commonwealth]
Where do the Red Sox players hit the hay after a big game? Well, most likely, on beds made of money inside acre-size master suites at their multimillion-dollar mansions that seem straight out of MTV’s “Cribs.” (Cue: Mid-Aughties rap music, probably 50 Cent.)
The rest of us, meanwhile, may want to consider Hotel Commonwealth in Boston’s Kenmore Square. It was recently named the Official Hotel of the Boston Red Sox, and the property will be able to leverage this four-year partnership toward special guest packages. Those already announced start at $399/night, but you might need an MLB-sized paycheck to take advantage of the “Ultimate Bucket List Baseball Package.”
The nightclub-y gym is setting up shop in Boston.
No one would accuse the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers of being too hip. No tea, no shade — it’s just that the Park Plaza appeals to travelers who want a prime location with an “old school Boston” atmosphere. But clearly the property is looking to edge-up its image.
First came the announcement of a glitzy upcoming steakhouse with a racy name, Strip by Strega. (If you think the meat-sex innuendo isn’t intentional, check out its recent advertisements.)
Now: news that David Barton Gym will open its first Massachusetts location at the hotel. The fitness brand has leased a 19,000-square foot space at the property, though there’s still no firm timeline for the opening. The Boston location one of several upcoming outposts for the gym line.
From a spa day to a brunch date, here's where to take mom.
Newsflash: Sunday is Mother’s Day. Hopefully, you already knew that. Otherwise, prepare for an hour spent scouring the detritus of the greeting card aisle for the one card left that still has a matching envelope. (Solution: Make your own with construction paper and glitter, “because a mom’s love always makes you feel like a kid again!” Good, right?)
If you’re still on the hunt for hotel-related stays, events and suggestions, we’ve rounded up a trio of ideas in Boston that might help. (We will have some other ideas for moms not in Boston shortly.) Whether you’re splurging on an overnight or just brunch, here are a few ways to make mom feel like a million bucks. Plus tax. And bring some money for the maid.
Boston are you ready for this jelly?
Jell-O shots: they’re not just for parties in your parents’ basement anymore!
On Saturday, May 17, the swanky lounge Rooftop @ Revere will reopen for the season, inviting hotel guests and local glitterati (read: drunk girls in strappy heels) to sip, sun, and swim on a spacious and sunny terrace with skyline views on the seventh floor of the trendy Revere Hotel Boston Common.
If you've had a chance to draw yourself some tan lines during last year’s inaugural season, you know some of what to expect: shady white cabanas offering a hint of Miami gloss; oversized, fantastical statues that bring a hint of the local art scene; and cute staffers serving light bites and pouring drinks while outfitted in Pret-a-Surf, a fashion-forward surf and swimwear line co-designed by the entertainment editor of Vogue and famed photographer Annie Leibovitz’s studio manager. (In other words, they’re totally photo-ready for #selfies.)
A year-round food market and 180-room hotel should create a booming new market district.
Great news for Boston, hotel junkies, foodies, and Boston hotel junky foodies: Last week the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approved plans for a $14 million project that will put a year-round public market near the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
The 28,000-square foot Boston Public Market will host up to 45 vendors, giving locals year-round access to meat, fish, and veggies from local farms; Boston’s Haymarket area already bustles with pushcart vendors on (weather-appropriate) weekends, but this be a huge indoor option that ensures healthy eating and Instagram photos of homemade quinoa salad with favas all year round. (#Blessed)
Also inside the Boston Public Market: a bakery, raw bar, and demo kitchen for use by local chefs. The nonprofit managing the project, Boston Public Food Market, has already raised $9 million and plans to open up shop in summer 2015.
And what pairs best with food? Shelter. Duh.
An improved Seaport needs a prettier Seaport Hotel. Here it is.
The Seaport District sure has come a long way since the four-diamond Seaport Hotel opened as the neighborhood’s first hotel in 1998. Back then, the area was sort of a no-man’s-land: just tumbleweeds, grizzled fisher-folk unloading their traps of lobsters, and on occasion, lanyard-wearing convention attendees meandering through empty streets, like zombies in a post-apocalyptic science-fiction movie. (Okay, we’re being dramatic. But seriously, there was really nothing much to see.)
But now the Seaport is hot, filled with restaurants, bars, restaurants, and option for arts- and culture-based outings. (Did we mention restaurants?) To keep up, the Seaport Hotel has just completed a major modernizing renovation of its 428 guest rooms and newly expanded TAMO Restaurant & Bar. Above is what the new guest rooms look like.
Pretty! (Also, look how perfectly that flag is positioned. Photoshop magic, anyone?)
When this writer checked into the 428-room Boston Seaport Hotel, one of the first things the clerk went out of her way to tell me was that there was no tipping at the hotel. I figured I'd heard her wrong, so I asked her to repeat it. She smiled. The craziest part is when she told me it's not a new thing - the hotel has had a no tipping policy since it opened in 1998.
Fifteen years ago, it put its then 260 employees through 35,000 hours of training on all aspects of guest service, from opening doors to room tidiness, and taught them to do it all without expecting a tip.
We've talked a lot about tipping on this site in the past, and there's always a debate about who should be tipped and for what. I found the no tipping policy at the Seaport to be extremely refreshing and impressive. Two reasons stand out in particular. 1) When receiving help from the staff, I didn't immediately feel like I owed them money and 2) I felt like the employees genuinely wanted to help me, and when it comes to the travel industry, that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when money is involved.