If a good hotel is like a home away from home, a good hotel bar should be no different. Done right, a lobby bar is a place where not just hotel guests, but even locals can feel at ease kicking back after a long day with a snack and well-deserved drink. Boston has many such places. Hotel Commonwealth’s crown jewel, The Hawthorne, feels as comfortable as your own living room, while the Highball Lounge is your (adult) kids’ playroom. OAK Long Bar + Kitchen may evoke memories of your grandfather’s fireside armchair (with only the cloud of cigar smoke missing). These high-quality lounges far surpass the usual idea of the hotel bar; in fact their expertly crafted cocktails and gourmet bar bites make them destinations in their own right. Whenever the question arises of “where to go tonight?” I’m always happy to raise my hand and suggest any of the hotel bars on this list.
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Nine Zero Hotel’s hip, vintage lounge has all the ingredients of a casual, relaxing night in for one good time out. A resident DJ spins the soundtrack for a night of playing board games like Candy Land, Jenga, and even Twister. For all the therapy of a well-deserved bubble bath, try the #DuckieRosé, a blend of aromatized wine garnished with a rubber duckie friend.
OAK Long Bar + Kitchen
The Fairmont Copley Plaza’s well-stocked barroom comes with a vintage wine list sophisticated enough to impress even the most discerning sommeliers. During the winter months, I’m a post-work regular in need of a snug swig from a classic Oak Warmer. My favorite is the festive Cisco Beach Toddy—cranberry vodka, Laird’s Apple Brandy, cranberries, and Earl Grey tea.
Beneath the Hotel Commonwealth, this polished and relaxed barroom is home sweet home with plush love seats, coffee-table books for perusing, and framed photos above the fireplace. Jackson Cannon, one of the country’s top mixologists, is the mind behind the menu of cutting-edge cocktails and hard-to-find classics like Pimm’s Cups.
Precinct Kitchen + Bar
This subterranean bar is welcoming in all seasons; it has a sunken patio for outdoor lounging in warm-weather months, and also a roaring indoor fireplace for snowy days. The menu is about as Boston as it gets, stocked with lobster rolls, oysters, chowder—though the star of the show is a traditional New England clam bake.
Alibi Bar & Lounge at the Liberty Hotel
The clink of glasses has replaced the long-ago clink of prison bars at this jail-turned-luxury hotel in Beacon Hill. Set in the old “drunk tank” of what was once the Charles Street Jail, the original cells are still in place, and red brick walls are adorned with framed photos of celebrity mug shots.