If you’re looking for an energy-packed, unconventional getaway, Boston’s boutique lodging options bring a fresh, free spirit to the otherwise proper, historically rich city. You’ll find a healthy smattering of styles, from to the mildly rebellious XV Beacon—taking its ingrained old-school charm and adding a dash of eclectic, contemporary flair—to the effortlessly classic Lenox Hotel, home to the suite Judy Garland once used as a crash pad in the 1960s. These, and other like-minded small hotels, are one-of-a-kind standouts in the bustling, go-to parts of town like Kenmore Square, Back Bay, and Beacon Hill, and offer more character than the larger chains. And the small luxuries and indie appeal they offer really can make them feel like your personal home away from home.
The Lenox Hotel
Built in 1900, and topping out at a whopping 11 stories, Boston’s “original boutique hotel” was once the city’s tallest building. Its stature doesn’t earn it much attention these days, but its award-winning green living and eco-sustainability practices do. Its hard-to-miss sign, with giant red glowing Hollywood Sign-style from the rooftop, also makes a bold impression.
Located where the old 94-room Howard Johnson’s used to be, this Fenway/Kenmore newcomer exudes the aura of a ‘70s retro motel, back when hard rock clubs ruled the area. Stepping into the Verb is like drinking a martini before noon, driving off to Palm Springs without a care in the world, and walking off into a desert with just a lava lamp. The lobby features original posters from Boston’s indie scene from the 60s to the 80s, which leads into a hallway complete with historic radios, album covers, and other related ephemera. It’s a modish place to have a sleepover. Roof deck suites overlook the courtyard pool, manual working typewriters are on every desk, and a vintage tour bus is parked out front.
With spa services offered on demand, and a yoga mat in every room, the vibe at this chic, über-contemporary hotel defines New Age Zen. After enjoying an in-room hot stone massage or herbal body wrap, you can relax with a cup of fair-trade coffee or an organic treat from your minibar (and toss your trash in your in-room recycling bin).
Even more inviting than the surprisingly spacious guest rooms here are the book collections by local Boston authors filling each one. The two-room luxury Reading Suite has a curated library of more than 50 titles signed by authors who have stayed at the hotel—and a comfy book nook overlooking Kenmore Square to enjoy them in.
Housed in a 1903 Beaux Arts building with authentic brass cage elevators and antique brass fixtures, this hotel brings old-world and modern design together beautifully. The 63 high-ceilinged rooms have an aesthetic that’s both timeless and ultra-luxe; all are kitted out with antique four-poster canopy beds, gaslit fireplaces, and specially commissioned, contemporary artwork.