10 Avery St., Downtown Crossing
When you check in, you can choose rooms looking out on the cityscape or on the historic and verdant Boston Common. Go with the latter. If you go in the fall, you’ll wake up to sweeping views of the changing leaves in America’s oldest public park. It’s pretty unbeatable. The hotel is attached to an Equinox gym, and guests are welcome to use the facilities as well as the spa (where therapists are particularly good at sports massages). Aside from the sumptuously comfortable interiors and amenities, the real draw here is the hotel’s walkability factor. You’re only a few steps away from the boutiques of Newbury Street and the charming cobblestoned roads of Beacon Hill, home to many of the city's best restaurants. If you’re traveling with littles in tow, the toy-laden red wagon in the lobby means you don’t have to bring half the playroom on your trip, and Boston Common makes a great playground.
XV Beacon Hotel
15 Beacon St, Beacon Hill
When a hotel is as beautiful as the XV Beacon and the history is as storied and the restaurant is as wonderful, you wouldn’t predict that the real reason to stay here is none of the above. If there is one thing that puts this hotel a few clicks ahead of the others it’s the staff in general and the concierges in particular. This is a team that is thoughtful and competent and—a word not often associated with concierges—kind. Ask them for help with anything and they will deliver—and then they’ll go about three steps beyond. The XV Beacon’s other stock in trade is the building. A stunning, Beaux-Arts mansion originally owned by a well-to-do merchant, the building dates back to the 18th century and has also played home to the Boston Transit Commission and School Committee during its life. Since 1999, the XV Beacon has been working as a 63-room boutique hotel that puts a premium on cozy with fireplaces and soft cashmere throws and Frette sheets in the guestrooms. For those traveling with a pack, you’re in good hands: pets are welcome, kids are greeted with cookies…
Four Seasons Hotel Boston
200 Boylston St, Back Bay
The recently renovated Four Seasons in Boston’s Back Bay has made comfortable bedding into an art form (they designed their own mattresses, for starters). Silky-smooth Frette sheets and double-glazed, practically soundproof windows contribute to transforming the beautifully outfitted guest rooms into sleep sanctuaries. A stroll around the Boston Public Garden’s lake is a gorgeous way to start the day (the hotel's bright, twenty-four-hour gym is another) before hitting the sights, most of which are walkable. The hotel's restaurant, the Bristol, excels at traditional New England eats served in an elegant, wood-paneled dining room. Tuck into the king crab tortellini—it’s every bit as good as it sounds.
Sofra Bakery and Cafe
1 Belmont St, Cambridge
Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in the charming, redbrick suburb that is Cambridge on a Sunday morning, Sofra is your place for brunch—even if you’re not a brunch person. With not a piece of maple-glazed bacon in sight, this is Middle Eastern cuisine that transforms breakfast into the most exciting meal of the day. Diners go wild for the shakshuka (eggs baked in a harissa-heavy tomato sauce), but we would argue for the Turkish-style breakfast (a plate of boiled eggs, cucumber and tomato salad, thick yogurt, and hunks of feta). The space looks like a cozy cabin and operates as a café-meets-general-store. The beautifully packaged herb and spice blends and a box of orange-and-rose-scented pastries make great gifts. The divine cardamom and orange blossom buns will make you rethink your feelings on cinnamon and sugar. The same goes for the coffee: The Turks like it dense and unapologetically strong.
The General Store
305 Harvard St, Coolidge Corner
A good general store is the kind of shop where you might fill a basket (ideally a nicely woven one) with a decent steak knife, some homemade jam, perhaps a bunch of linen napkins, and a jar of bath salts. April Gabriel spent her childhood summers in the Berkshires with a grandmother who instilled in her an appreciation for good old-fashioned quality. And she spent these summers in and out of the general stores in the area. Somewhere between the grandmother with good taste and the charm of those provisions, Gabriel got the idea for what would become her General Store. Nestled into Boston’s Coolidge Corner, Gabriel’s shop is just like those of her youth, redone in a modern way. Tightly wrapped bunches of sage and sticks of palo santo, natural-wax candles, Mast Brothers chocolate, hand-pressed cards—they're all here. But Gabriel’s a woman who is true to her roots: The homemade jams are there, too.
46 Waltham St, South End
An outdoor market in New York City led John Joss and Don Carney into a love affair with buttons and wool. Inspired by vintage flea-market finds and a simple desire for good old craftsmanship, the two began making delicately embroidered-hats embellished with those vintage, flea-market-find buttons. New Yorkers developed quite an appetite for these distinctive hats, and Joss and Carney’s success only grew from there. They went big with scarves, bags, fashion items, and, eventually, home décor, forming what is now a full lifestyle design studio, appropriately named Patch NYC, in homage to their made-from-scratch origins.
34 Newbury St, Back Bay
Alan Bilzerian and his family have been bringing their own—quite specific—point of view to Boston’s sartorial scene since 1967. This is not the place to come for a simple white button-up and sensible flats. Bilzerian homes in on Japanese and European fashion specifically, and the stock of designers speaks the family’s broad-ranging tastes: Thick, chunky knits from Irish designer Lainey Keogh sit alongside floaty Isabel Marant blouses and voluminous Issey Miyake silk pants. On the home front, the store skews toward modern, sculptural vases and candleholders, while the Murano stemware is strictly old-world—gilded and formal in a count-and-countess-are-coming-for-dinner way.
Beacon Hill Yoga
57 Phillips St, Beacon Hill
Regular classes aside, Beacon Hill offers real yoga workshops, because sometimes you may want to skip the Saturday brunch line and spend two hours stretching and decompressing, and maybe even learn how to do a handstand. The instructors are hands-on and will adjust you throughout the class to ensure you’re getting the most out of it. There is no pressure to keep up, and it’s calming and friendly. Classes are small (around ten people), so there’s none of the usual scrambling for mat space.
20 Prospect St., Cambridge
The sheer volume of Irish-Americans in Boston means one very distinct thing: This city has great pubs. And the Field leads the pack.
249 Pearl St, Somerville
The Turkish word "sarma" has many meanings. It translates to: something wrapped, rolled, enveloped, a bite-sized morsel…you get the idea. Chef Cassie Piuma has modeled her dishes (many of which are, well, enveloped in flaky pastry or wrapped in grape leaves) on meyhane, the bar bites you would eat in a tavern if you were in Istanbul. Sarma’s parsnip fritters with crushed nuts are perfect—and even more perfect with a cold beer. The beef jerky in a sticky, syrupy date molasses pairs well with wine. And every bite of the mezze (Middle Eastern tapas) brings a different flavor and texture—some hot, some cold, some just wildly and excitingly foreign. Bright Turkish plates adorn the walls, while seats are upholstered in multihued traditional fabrics imbuing the space with a casual, celebratory atmosphere. Even the drinks—full of flavors like orange blossom, rose water, and oh so much mint—are a nod to the Arabian Peninsula.
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