Monday, Apr. 26, 2010

Eliot Hotel

Small and traditional without being stuffy, this elegant Back Bay hotel welcomes guests like they were family — fitting, since it's been owned and operated by the same clan for more than 50 years. Named the No. 1 hotel in Massachusetts by Travel + Leisure's in 2012, the Eliot boasts 95 guest units, 79 are spacious suites, decorated in toile and raw silk, with Italian marble baths and French doors separating the bedrooms from the sitting areas. Staff members are warm, gracious and multilingual, and the property is uniquely kid-friendly: teenagers stay for free, and little ones are treated to rubber duckies and other bath toys. If your "children" are of the canine variety, that's okay too; pet-sitting services are available.

Room to Book: Light sleepers should request a room above the fifth floor; the hotel sits on heavily trafficked Commonwealth Avenue.

Insider Tip: Try the Sake Bomb Special ($35) at the Zagat-rated Uni Sashimi Bar.

Four Seasons Hotel, Boston

This contemporary brick landmark offers a prime location: it's literally across the street from the glittering and meandering walking paths of the Public Garden (Newbury Street's shops are also just a few blocks away). A $50 million renovation of the interiors, completed in April 2006, has given the common areas and the 273 rooms an airy, modern look. The color scheme of eggshell, pale gold and icy blue is accented by great views, especially if you get a room with fully opening windows fronting the garden (and you should). Take a dip in the eighth-floor indoor pool, which overlooks the gold-domed statehouse. After dinner, a brandy in the clubby, firelit Bristol Lounge is practically mandatory.

Room to Book: A Premium King overlooking the Boston Public Garden, especially in springtime

Insider Tip: Afternoon Tea and Royal Tea (which includes glasses of kir royal) is served daily in The Bristol Lounge.

Nine Zero

With its sleek, minimalist decor, Nine Zero brings modern chic to the historic area around the Freedom Trail. Yes, connecting to Wi-Fi from your ergonomically molded chair while looking out over the lichen-cloaked headstones of Paul Revere and John Hancock may seem paradoxical, but the classical location keeps the hotel's clean-lined interiors from feeling too coolly contemporary. Just be prepared: while the 190 guest rooms are stylish — with butter-yellow walls, streamlined dark-wood furnishings, and beds with padded headboards — they're also on the small side.

Room to Book: The 1,065-sq.-ft. Cloud Nine Suite has breathtaking views to the Charles River — and a telescope for enjoying them.

Insider Tip: Stick to the more spacious rooms on the top three floors, which have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the green of Boston Common.

The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common

Boston's only Ritz (the Taj chain bought the famous Back Bay property in 2006) is an 11-story glass-and-steel monolith that looms above the Common's greenery. Opened in 2001, the hotel transports you — oddly — to 1985; the glitzy marble lobby, filled with giant potted lilies and a 10-foot fireplace, is pure Trump Revival. Thankfully, the 193 guest rooms are a bit more subdued, with velvety earth-toned upholstery, feather beds and Frette bathrobes — appealing amenities after a workout in the adjacent 100,000-square-foot Sports Club/LA (where $15 gets you near-round-the-clock access).

Room to Book: Any room above the ninth floor; these have the most direct views over the Common

Insider Tip: Keep an eye out for celebs; the Yankees usually stay here when they're in town. Nothing enhances people watching more than fondue and Bloody Marys at the Ritz's Artisan Bistro, which opened with much fanfare September of 2011.

XV Beacon

One of Boston's first modern design hotels when it opened in 2000, the surprisingly homey 60-room XV (call it "Fifteen") has a stylish, bold decor that contrasts nicely with its 1903 Beaux Arts building. A svelte scheme of dark wood, brushed steel, and cream-colored fabrics prevails, but it's punctuated by bold abstract paintings and vintage touches like a cage elevator, marble busts and canopy beds in every guest room. The rooms are spacious — some as large as 900 square feet — and all have gas fireplaces, 42-inch flat screen televisions and mini bars that might tempt you to snuggle in on a cold night. Venturing out? Take the complimentary car service around town.

Room to Book: Any of the Corner Studios on floors 8 through 10, for Boston Common views and lots of natural light

Insider Tip: The hotel provides two complimentary Lexus Sedans to take guests to downtown Boston destinations.