Travel

Back Bay

Establishment neighborhood
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.
Alan Bilzerian
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.
Serenella
134 Newbury St, Back Bay
Serenalla has occupied this elegant townhouse in Boston’s Back Bay for over thirty-seven years and is a testament to the locals’ love of a neighborhood standby. Stocking the likes of Bottega Veneta, Erdem, and Gucci, as well as harder-to-find brands like Vilshenko and Marlo Laz, the store is a pleasure to browse in. Serenella is easy to navigate and the staff could not be more helpful (or knowledgeable). The store often hosts trunk shows with international designers. You’ll find sister stores in Palm Beach and Nantucket.
Saltie Girl
281 Dartmouth St, Back Bay
Owner Kathy Sidell spent her childhood sailing with her father and fell in love with the feeling of salt on her face after a day at sea. And while New England is synonymous with seafood, Saltie Girl pushes the boundaries far beyond oysters and clams. Saltie Girl’s claim to fame is the largest tinned seafood collection in New England. We’re talking Siberian Osetra caviar, Pacific salmon roe, tinned Spanish anchovies, Portuguese sardines…the list goes on. Be brave and order something out of your comfort zone—you won’t be disappointed. If it's comfort you’re after, the fried lobster on a waffle soaked with sweet corn butter is the way to go. The interior is a further nod to Sidell’s love of the ocean. The walls are bright turquoise, the bar is set off in blue tile, and the wooden booths make you feel like you’re eating on a boat.
Elliot Hotel
370 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, Back Bay
The Elliot is a hotel that feels like a luxurious bed and breakfast—it’s cozy, small, and full of the considered details and homey décor choices. The beds are piled high with soft sheets, down pillows, and brocade comforters. In what feels very Belle Epoque, the drapes, bed skirts, and decorative pillowcases all share the same pattern, the lighting is soft, and the coffee tables are piled high with art books. The hotel's restaurant, Uni—run by James Beard Award winner Ken Oringer—specializes in sushi, favoring fish from both the New England waters and Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market (the largest and, arguably, best fish market in the world). There’s no gym, but you can run along the nearby river or take advantage of the complimentary passes to the Boston Sports club.
Winston Flowers
131 Newbury St., Back Bay
Now a third-generation company with seven locations in New England, Winston Flowers began as a father-son team, with a pushcart parked in front of the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Newbury Street in 1944. Winston Flowers prides itself on their close relationships with growers—they purchase their blooms directly from the growers and each one is hand selected. They also highlight local farms, particularly in the time period spanning from late summer to early fall, when favorite flowers like sunflowers, peonies, and lilac are in season. In addition to the first permanent Winston location in the Back Bay (open seven days), there is a second Boston shop in the Financial District (open weekdays).
Winston Flowers
131 Newbury St., Back Bay
Now a third-generation company with seven locations in New England, Winston Flowers began as a father-son team, with a pushcart parked in front of the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Newbury Street in 1944. Winston Flowers prides itself on their close relationships with growers—they purchase their blooms directly from the growers and each one is hand selected. They also highlight local farms, particularly in the time period spanning from late summer to early fall, when favorite flowers like sunflowers, peonies, and lilac are in season. In addition to the first permanent Winston location in the Back Bay (open seven days), there is a second Boston shop in the Financial District (open weekdays).
Flour Bakery
131 Clarendon St., Back Bay
Flour Bakery is best known for their pastries and desserts (owner Joanne Chang famously beat Bobby Flay when he tried to take on her sticky buns in Throwdown), which are more than enough to justify a visit. Less famous but equally good are her lunchtime sandwiches and salads, which can be ordered at the counter and taken to go. Needless to say, the bread on the sandwiches is game-changing—we’re partial to the focaccia—and it’s kind of sinful to leave without taking dessert to-go, also. Locations Downtown, on the South End, and in Cambridge.
Thinking Cup
85 Newbury St., Back Bay
Thinking Cup's cozy interior is the ideal place to hide out during a freezing nor’easter. The exposed brick walls and low ceilings create an intimate vibe, and the Stumptown coffee is brewed to perfection. The menu is just the right length (a nice array of pastries and breakfast options, and four to five choices for a sandwich if you're around at lunch), but you really don't need much more than a coffee and a corner table to make yourself at home in here. In addition to the original location off Boston Commons, there's also an outpost in the North End.
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