What you'll find in this story: Boston hotels, Boston restaurants, Boston culture, Boston attractions, Boston neighborhoods
Our favorite Boston hotels have three things in common. One, they're within walking distance of at least one subway (or T) stop, which is a major plus--drivers face a maddening spiderweb of one-ways, dead ends, and Do Not Enters, plus parking charges topping $25 a day. Two, unless we tell you otherwise, they all offer traditional amenities such as phones, TVs, and private bathrooms. And three, they all start at less than $100 a night per couple in low season (usually November to March). During special events, such as the Boston Marathon and the hectic college graduation season, rates can pop higher.
Newbury Guest House
Like most destinations, the city of has experienced a post-9/11 downturn in tourism; even so, weeks can fly by without a single vacancy at the Newbury. And it's easy to see why. Converted from three nineteenth-century brick town houses, it's in a prime location on the most happening street in fashionable Back Bay. All 32 rooms have classic Victorian furnishings, hardwood floors, and queen-size beds. What's more, they're drastically underpriced for Boston. Private parking is available around back for $15 to $30 a day, but with the trendy neighborhood out your door and several T stops nearby, you won't need it. Smaller rooms start at $99 in winter, $125 during peak times, others run $114 to $185. Rates include continental breakfast with bacon and eggs; 261 Newbury St., 617/437-7666, newburyguesthouse.com/. Nearest T stop: Copley Square or Hynes/ICA.
Bostonians love their brownstones, and here's your chance to live like a local with your own pad on a quiet, tree-lined street in Back Bay. The Copley Inn, in what was once an apartment building, rents out 21 primly decorated studios with fully equipped kitchens. Although rooms are on the small side, high ceilings and bay windows make them feel airy (they're spread over three floors, with no elevator). Stay a full week and the seventh night is free. From $85 in low season, $135 in high season; 19 Garrison St., 800/232-0306, copleyinn.com/. Nearest T stop: Prudential.
Behind this hotel's homely facade lies the best value in Back Bay for the out-of-town driver. Parking is included in the price, as is in-room Internet access. The MidTown also has a cafe that's open for breakfast (it costs extra) and an outdoor pool for use in the summer. The decor isn't anything to write home about--it looks like a motel inside and out--but the location certainly is, since Newbury Street, Fenway Park, and the city's renowned Museum of Fine Arts are within walking distance. From $79 in low season, $139 high season; 220 Huntington Ave., 800/343-1177, midtownhotel.com/. Nearest T stop: Symphony or Prudential.
As plain-Jane as can be, with white cinder-block walls, simple, sturdy furniture, and no decorative touches whatsoever, the nonprofit Constitution Inn regularly hosts members of the military but is also available to civilians. Accordingly, it runs a tight ship, with superclean, decent-size rooms. The location is a little unusual for Boston--amid factories in Charlestown, a few steps to the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides herself), and a $1.25 ferry ride away from town. Bonus: Downstairs there's a fitness center with a pool, two rooms of equipment, and a basketball court, all free for guests. Doubles from $99 year-round; large corner rooms with full kitchens available for $125; 150 Second Ave., Charlestown Navy Yard, 800/495-9622, constitutioninn.org/. Nearest T stop: North Station or Community College, but the ferry is closer.
Oasis Guest House
The tiny quarters here--consisting of a bed, dresser, and a wee patch of floor--can seem cramped or cozy, depending on your point of view. But they're cheery by any standard, and the price is right. There are a total of 30 rooms in two separate Back Bay buildings on a side street near Symphony Hall and the Berklee College of Music. A couple of nice extras: outdoor decks, and parking for $15 a day. From $89 in low season, $119 in high season (with private bathroom); for rooms using a shared bath down the hall, double rates go as low as $69. All prices include continental breakfast; 22 Edgerly Rd., 800/230-0105, oasisgh.com/. Nearest T stop: Hynes/ICA or Symphony.
463 Beacon Street Guest House
On a busy but attractive residential street near boutique-heavy Newbury Street and the Harvard Bridge, 463 Beacon's best rooms offer spaciousness, king-size beds, and big bay windows. Some of its 19 rooms are a little dark, but they come with mini-fridges and microwaves. Hit the StairMaster before arriving--it has five floors but no elevator. From $65 in low season, $85 in high season (with private bathroom); singles with shared bath from $50 to $79. All prices include taxes; 463 Beacon St., 617/536-1302, 463beacon.com/. Nearest T stop: Hynes/ICA.
All 66 of these spacious (if generic) motel rooms stand out mostly because they offer everything you need to cook your own meals: equipped kitchenettes with microwave, coffeemaker, and a mini-fridge. The neighborhood is not especially quiet or attractive--a grungy row of storefronts, with the train chugging by across the street--but it's close to the North End's renowned Italian restaurants. Also, sports fans (and foes) should know that Friend Street is home to a handful of bars that, on game nights, brim with boozing Bruins and Celtics fans heading to the nearby Fleet Center. From $99 in low season, $139 in high season; rates include continental breakfast; 280 Friend St., 800/350-7784, shawmutinn.com/. Nearest T stop: North Station or Haymarket.
Don't forget Brookline (and beyond)
Home to Boston University and 15 minutes from town on the T, Brookline is stocked with inns and guesthouses charging much lower rates than those in Boston proper. The family-run Anthony's Town House is popular for its ornate rooms with shared bath for $50 to $90 double (1085 Beacon St., 617/566-3972, anthonystownhouse.com/). Spacious digs and a huge kitchen that's open to guests are on offer at the Longwood Inn $65 to $109 double (123 Longwood Ave., 617/566-8615, longwood-inn.com/). Nearby Brookline, in Allston, but still accessible to the city using the T, is the friendly Farrington Inn. It rents bare-bones rooms--though they do have TVs and phones--from $55 double (23 Farrington Ave., 800/767-5337, farringtoninn.com/).
Got a bigger budget?
Dropping some extra cash goes a long way in Boston, especially during tough New England winters, when plush hotels reduce rates to fill space (do some homework before reserving). But these boutique inns are a solid value year-round:
The 65-room Kendall Hotel, a refurbished 1890s firehouse, is lovingly done in antiques and bright colors. It's at MIT and just two T stops from Boston Common. From $129 on winter weekends, parking included; 350 Main St., Cambridge, 617/577-1300, kendallhotel.com/.
The College Club, on what is arguably Back Bay's most elegant residential street, charges as little as $75 for singles with shared bath, and $120 for enormous rooms with bay windows, comfy sitting chairs, a private bathroom, but no TVs; 44 Commonwealth Ave., 617/536-9510, thecollegeclubofboston.com/.
At the end of Charles Street in ritzy Beacon Hill, the John Jeffries House has 46 rooms of varying size and shape--all with kitchenettes and private baths--going as low as $95 for singles, $110 for doubles; 14 David G. Mugar Way, 617/367-1866, johnjeffrieshouse.com/.
You won't find a better-located hotel than the classy Harborside Inn--it's right next to the New England Aquarium and Quincy Market--where rooms have exposed brick, hardwood floors, and rates starting at $119; 185 State St., 617/723-7500, harborsideinnboston.com/.