Finally, it’s here.
I think I may have carpal tunnel from spending DAYS working on this post. I have had several readers e-mail me lately for my picks for where to stay, eat and shop in Boston. So here is my guide to my dear city (with many glaring omissions I’m sure- I may add to it as more places pop into my overloaded brain). I hope it’s helpful for those of you planning a visit!
Some truly lovely places to rest your weary head.
XV Beacon– The location is magnificent, the rooms highly styled. Dramatic and boutique. Check out the roof deck for your morning coffee while overlooking Boston.
Liberty Hotel – I mean, it’s an old JAIL, people. The cool meter is registering off the charts. Plus it’s got jaw dropping design and in a great Beacon Hill location. There are 18 original rooms that you have to specially request, so ask when you book. The bar, Alibi, is one of Boston’s hottest too- check out the original jail cell doors!
Inn at St. Botolph–XV Beacon’s charming little sister property for long term or short term use. Feels like your own Back Bay pied-a-terre.
Eliot Hotel – LUXURY. An impossibly chic interpretation of Boston Brahmin style. Grab a bite at Ken Oringer’s Clio or Uni for a very special evening.
Colonnade Hotel– Recently renovated, it’s taken on a new life! One of Boston’s few rooftop pools too!
Westin Copley Place– Yep, it’s a chain, but the beds ARE heavenly, the price is right and the location is central. Plus if it’s crappy weather you don’t have to go outside to get to some of Boston’s best shopping in the Copley and Prudential malls!
Mandarin Oriental-A brand spankin‘ new hotel right smack in the center of Back Bay. Bonus: it also houses a killer salon (Mizu) and the hip and happenin’ L’Espalier and Sel de la Terre restaurants, both great for dinner out!
Not ALL of the best places, but a nice collection of my personal favorites for those visiting with empty stomachs!
Mistral– Flawless. My favorite “fancy occasion” place. Try the fillet mignon with horseradish whipped potatoes. Yes please.
No. 9 Park– Repeatedly named “Boston’s Best”, chef Barbara Lynch does everything right here. Spectacular and very special for a memorable night out.
Sorellina– a close second behind Mistral, this place will knock your socks off- from the decor, service, bar and menu. Try the truffled french fries and try to not to gorge yourself to death on them before your entree arrives.
Mooo– What used to be The Federalist (which was previously my fave restaurant)- Moo is a delightful replacement. Again, the decor is amazing and the service is too (oh, and the steaks!) :)
Beehive– One of those places that makes even long time Bostonians fall back in love with their city- live jazz, amazing decor, yummy food and drinks. Perfect night out.
Grotto– A tiny and hidden spot snuggled amongst the brick row houses of Beacon Hill this gem is romantic and cozy on a fall night.
South End Buttery– Great for breakfast, lunch, coffee or dinner. An amazing little cafe (check out the gorgeous pressed tin ceilings) in the cutest area of the South End (boutiques Hudson and Looc are right next door too!)
Franklin Cafe– An old school favorite for an affordable, laid back, jump-for-joy-it’s-so-good meal! New location in Southie too!
Stephi’s on Tremont– I was sad when Garden of Eden closed it’s doors in this location, but was rewarded with the FAB Stephi’s. Great decor (check out the private dining room) and a brunch worth talking about.
Aquitaine– Feel like you’re in Paris with this French bistro. Spectacular brunch.
Oleana– If you are willing to travel to Cambridge, you’ll be rewarded with the mind blowing Mediterranean fare and Boston’s most romantic outdoor patio.
Via Matta– One of our staple places- try the Tagliatelle Bolognese with a Lime Basil Gimlet. I die. I’ve never ordered anything else in the 20 times I’ve been there- it’s THAT good.
Persephone/Achilles Project– An impossibly cool venue that combines a fashion boutique/restaurant & bar/art gallery and arcade (you can buy a dress, have a cocktail, nibble some apps AND play an Xbox game? Is this Disneyland for urban professionals? Maybe.)
Sportello– think of the most chic diner you could possibly conjure up in your imagination, and that’s Sportello. Eat at communal counters and enjoy their simple but delightful food (the tomato soup and “grilled cheese” is so good for lunch). Stop on your way to the ICA!
Metropolis- Feels so European with it’s coziness, small tiled floor, vintage stools and Moravian star lights. Oh, and did I mention the food is OUTSTANDING?
Stella- Italian dining at it’s chicest. Always busy and always delicious! Plus, it’s design is divine.
Butcher Shop/B&G Oysters– Across the street from each other, these two Barbara Lynch outposts are adorable and local favorites whether you crave bivalves or beef.
Get out your credit cards and get ready to have some fun.
Looc – Like traveling to Nantucket and the South of France all at once. An amazingly edited collection of goods by the lovely Audra Boyle.
Stil – Edgy, hip, of-the-moment designs curated by the ever stylish Betty Riaz.
Wish– Beacon Hill’s answer for what to wear on a night out or a weekend trip to ACK.
Louis Boston-Slightly intimidating (took me years to get the guts to go in), but so worth it! Even if it is just to gander at the high style, fresh of the runway looks (all in an amazing space)!
Filene’s Basement–Put on your boxing gloves darlings, ’cause you’ll have to fight to the death for that 75% off Missoni dress.
Dress– Divine fashion goodness- you’ll be sure to always find something here whether it be a drapey Tucker blouse or cool chain necklace. Oh, and is that Cow Parsley by Cole & Son on the walls? Yes, that’ll do just fine, thanks.
Stel’s –Chic, under the radar designers reign supreme in here- think Alexander Wang, Reyes and A.P.C. Like a mini Barney’s without the attitude.
Holiday–Like shopping in your very stylish friend’s very girly, pretty and vintage-cool closet.
Intermix– A bit o’ Manhattan on Newbury street. DVF galore and plenty of other designer labels.
Sarah Campbell- Handmade fashions from right here in Boston. For the preppier set, in SUCH a cool South End space (check out the dress patterns hanging from the ceiling!)
Portobello Road– a truly magical, brightly colored mix of boho-chic inspired fashion, home accessories and floral design all in one place. It’s well worth the trip out Route 9!!!
Flat of the Hill– need a birthday/bridal or baby gift? Look no further. And scoop up a gorgeous handbag and some lip gloss while you’re there.
Hudson– My favorite home store in Boston with a mix of old, new, modern, classic and all in perfect taste. Owner Jill Goldberg has a FLAWLESS eye. The kind of shop I’d open if I could.
Devi Home– Luxe fabrics, drapes, pillows and furniture from India. AMAZING.
Good– Like walking through a jewelry box of accessories!
Koo de Kir– A great place for accessories of all kinds- tabletop items, pillows even purses and jewels!
Antique Shops on Charles Street – there are many. Go in them.
Lekker– Danish design brought to the South End. Awesome for unique wedding gifts!
Acquire– New to the scene and already getting heaps of praise for her mix of vintage and new home goods. In the North End, so plan to go before you get a yummy plate of pasta!
Bliss Home–imagine your dream wedding registry-this is it. Drop dead gorgeous tableware and accessories galore.
Machine Age– Coveting a pair of Barcelona chairs like I am? Make a point to pop in here to view a great collection of designer and vintage furniture.
Reside– Over the river in Cambridge is this shop chock FULL of vintage mid-century modern furniture and accessories.
Didriks– If you’re going to Reside, you better as well pop into this amazing little shop that carries some of my favorites: Match pewter, Chilewich, Libeco Home and Heath Ceramics.
Landry & Arcari– Need an amazing, show-stopper rug? This is your place. Tibetans, area rugs, antique Persians– you name it.
Aunt Sadies- fantastic gift shop full of candles, baby items, soaps, home accessories and the like.
After a long day of shopping and eating, you might need a break. Or to break a sweat.
Exhale– Zen beauty at it’s finest- with massages, facials and amazing mind/body classes (take a yoga class with David Magone, my favorite yoga instructor) or get ripped with the pain inducing but results driven Core Fusion.
Spa at Sports Club LA– Alexandra gives amazing facials and Andrew said he had the best massage of his life here!
Gretta Cole Copley– Katerina Kolokotronis has been my eyebrow guru for almost 7 years now. I trust no one else with my Brooke Sheilds-esque brows- plus she gives great facials too. Love everyone who works there.
Bella Sante- A go-to for Boston pampered and pedicured ladies.
Lauren’s Nails– Efficient and quick (and in two locations) if you need your nails and toes polished and scrubbed for $35 in a jiffy.
Other things to consider:
* Visit the ICA, Isabella Stewart Gardner and MFA.
* Take in a Sox game. And eat a Fenway frank.
* Stroll along the Charles River or through the Fens.
* Have a drink at the Top of the Hub at night for the view alone.
* Go on a Duck Tour. Looks cheesy, but it’s actually really fun.