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Hotels in Downtown Boston
The Ritz Carlton - Just the best of everything. The best location, the best accommodations, the best service. I can't say enough about the incomparable level of service one can expect here. Truly a once in a lifetime experience, that hopefully you'll do time and again. If you're in town, eat at their 5 star dining room fronting on Newbury St, or bump into your favorite movie stars in the lobby.
The Back Bay Hilton - Nice Hotel in the heart of Back Bay. Hilton quality, pretty views, park your car once and plan to walk around. Parking on the streets in Back Bay is impossible...let the valet take it and kiss it goodbye for your trip. Pricey!!
The Four Seasons - If you thought the Hilton was pricey....forget the Four Seasons. If you're looking for a Five-Star hotel overlooking the Boston Public Gardens, and maybe want to star gaze in the lobby you've come to the right place...
The Boston Harbor Hotel - Clearly the best water view location in Boston, the Boston Harbor Hotel is a first class establishment right on Rowes Wharf, and right across the street from Quincy Market and the Aquarium. Tends to be very expensive, and a tad "Boston Brahman" for my tastes. Far too much Naugehyde for me to feel "at ease" but after a dinner cruise on the Odyssey during which you drank way to much champagne it's great to be able to stroll right up to your room and look out over the harbor.
The Longwharf Marriott - Intriguing, but in my opinion way overrated hotel. Great Location, adjacent to the aquarium and overlooking the water, but were it not for the view it's a 3 Star hotel (in my opinion) at best. My last time there, the service in the restaurant was so poor, and my table so wobbly that we didn't even have to pay for brunch.
Sheraton Back Bay - Used to be my favorite.. Now, my opinion is that it has the most appalling service in Boston. I had a horrible experience, and complained... they provided me with a suite at no charge...and the suite was terrible. I tried one last time and it was so bad that my family demanded our money back and left the hotel 10 minutes after we checked in. We wound up at the Back Bay Hilton where we were treat fabulously.
Copley Marriott - A real close second choice for me. I guess it depends on where you want to walk to. The Copley area is all awesome shopping, and the Marriott sits at one end of the Copley Plaza Mall. Anywhere other than Copley, however, and you'll need to get your car and drive. Very courteous and friendly people, nice rooms, reasonable pricing at times.
Where to eat while you're in downtown Boston.
Boston offers so many phenomenal restaurants it's hard to know where to begin. I suppose the best thing to do is to break it down by Category.
No city is more famous for it's Seafood than Boston, and hear you'll find some amazing places to eat. The choice of Seafood restaurants comes down to two simple choices. I've tended over the years to avoid the "Tourist" restaurants, like Anthony's Pier 4 and Jimmy's Harborside, unless you happen to be out on that Pier anyway...perhaps at the Expo Center. The food is really good...but they're so big and crowded that I think you miss out on a lot of the Boston Seafood Experience. Not to mention that with the construction in and around the area, simply getting out there is really hard.
Legal Seafoods - A true Boston tradition. They have many locations in the Boston area, but my two favorites are the new Park Square facility, across from the Park Plaza hotel, and the Exchange Place facility, located on the wharf next to the Aquarium and the Longwharf Marriott. Neither facility accepts reservations and dinner times on weekends are always packed, but it's well worth the wait. Best bet is to stop in and put your name on the list, and then walk around town for a few minutes. You can also try calling the Park Square location and asking very nicely for the hostess to put your name on the list before you get there.
I can't speak highly enough about these two facilities. Aside from superlative food, excellent atmosphere, and outstanding service, they represent the only two restaurants in the world where I'm comfortable eating raw Oysters and Clams. Their microbiological screening process has become legendary in the food service industry. Call ahead a day before to reserve any Lobster over 3 pounds. By the way...just to dispel the myth that big lobsters are "too tough to eat," I had an 8 pounder there that literally melted in my mouth. Obviously...that rumor was started by someone who didn't want to spend the money.....
The Union Oyster House - By the time the Civil War broke out in 1860, the Union Oyster house was already a legendary seafood restaurant. Known as the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the United States, it has served some of our nations most famous statesmen, from Daniel Webster to the future King of France, who lived on the top floor and taught French to the school children. The Oyster House is very casual, and located right next to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, presenting the perfect end to a day of downtown sightseeing. As much as I love Legal Seafoods, the Oyster House has by far and away my Favorite Clam Chowder in the world.
Turner Fisheries - Located in the heart of Copley Square, Turner Fisheries is a great place for people watching the passerby's on Huntington Ave from a window table. Rumor has it, the food is good. I went there once, and after no waitress came to my table for 20 minutes after I was seated, I walked out and went to the Legals facility in the Prudential Mall across the street. Haven't been back since, but they are very famous.
How can one even begin to have Italian Food in Boston without a visit to the famous "North End." Located just North of the Quincy Market area, the North End is lined with dozens of phenomenal restaurants. The only one of them I've been to, is one of the most famous. It's called Villa Franchesca, and to this day represents the most amazing Italian Dinner I've ever had. Just a note...Parking in the north End is brutal. Park at one of the garages at Quincy Market and either walk or take a cab to the North End. Don't forget to try the Canolies!!
My personal favorite is a charming place called Villa Francesca. It was absolutely the best I've ever had!
I've never been a fan of French Cuisine, but I think it's because I haven't tried it much...certainly never in Boston. That said, the three most famous French Restaurants in Boston are as follows:
Maison Robert, (suit and tie a must)
Aujourd Hui. I've tried to get reservations at both and have never succeeded. Plan a week ahead of time.....
L'Espalier Located in the heart of Back Bay in an old brownstone, it's an amazing atmosphere. I recommend the Osetra Caviar and the Degustation menu <tasting menu.> I also recommend deep pockets... My last trip there we spent close to $1000 for 6 of us...
Arguably the most famous place for a good steak in Boston has to be Grill 23, on Berkeley Street, near Copley. Not only ambiance and phenomenal food, but also home to my favorite waiter in Boston. Make sure when you go you ask to have Leo wait on you, and tell him I said Hi. I've known him since his days at Legals, and he really makes your meal feel like an event.
Another famous place that I'd be reticent not to mention is called Locke Ober. I'm not sure I could even find it again, as it's on one of the alley ways near the Washington Street pedestrian mall. Home to the Boston Brahman - State House crowd they offer everything from fresh Beluga Caviar to $25 glasses of Cognac. Personally, I found it way too stuffy for my taste, which was not helped when they forced me to wear their "house sports jacket" for dinner, over my already perfectly acceptable evening attire. The food wasn't bad.....
Lastly - another honorable mention for the best view of any restaurant in Boston, goes to the Bay Tower Room, in the Financial District. located on the 33rd Floor, with floor to ceiling glass, the view is nothing short of Breathtaking. The food was good....nothing really special... But after dinner dancing overlooking the entire city was really amazing.
Funky - Let's call it "Nouveau Cuisine"
There are two additional restaurants which defy any category I can think of, but which you should eventually get to see.
The first, located in the heart of the Financial District, is a little place called Dakotas. No web site... but the food was unlike anything I've ever had. Lobster Bisque, prawns, escargot, prime rib.... just amazing and very unique. I used to know the chef there, but he moved away..worth a call to see if he's still there...
The other is a quaint little place called Sonsie, on Newbury Street in the heart of Back Bay. Phenomenal Cuisine in a fabulous atmosphere. Star gaze here as well if you like... It's not uncommon to bump into celebrities here, but go for the food. If you bump into Ben Affleck or John Malcovitch so be it...but go for the food...
Hotels in Metro-West
While you're out visiting me on your House Hunting trip, it's really convenient to getaway from Boston itself and set up camp out here in Metro-West. In general, all of the Hotels on my list have fundamentally the same description. They're lovely facilities (I'd classify them as 3 Stars) catering to both families and corporate clients. Since they are so similar in nature, I'm going to just list them, with links to their websites, rather than try to chat about each one. The ones that have the word "Suite" in their name, offer multi-room suites. Makes sense...right?
Westboro Residence Inn (my personal favorite)
Wyndham Hotel (Formerly the Westboro Marriott)
Worcester Courtyard Marriott
Where to Eat in Metro-West
Eating out here isn't based primarily on luxury gourmet cuisine. For that...we go into Boston. What we do have out here are some really good places to grab a bite with your family.
Along Route 9 in Westborough, you'll find some really nice places.
Oishi Sushi - The finest Sushi in Boston. One in Chestnut Hill, and another in Sudbury. Just amazing.
Pizzeria Uno - always a favorite, located near the Route 135/Route 9 intersection on Route 9 West.
Harry's Two - in the Boston Interiors building just west of the Otis Street/Route 9 crossover. Order the Crab and Lobster Bisque along with a plate of "Clam Bellies." The finest and freshest Clam Bellies I've ever tasted. Ask for extra tartar sauce when you order...they never bring enough....
Cheng Du - Great Chinese cuisine, again just west of Otis Street. Alos... try the Westboro Mandarin on Route 30. Route 9 to Route 135 East to Route 30 East at the Rotary in the Center of Town. Right in the Downtown Crossing shopping center. My favorite Chinese food in town.
Willies Steakhouse and Amici's Trattoria - Located in the heart of Shrewsbury, right at the intersection of Route 140 and Main St at town center. Excellent Food in both restaurants, as well as a Sunday Brunch. The only pizza I've had in Massachusetts that reminds me of growing up in New Jersey.
Bagel, Bagel, Bagels...Route 9 West in Framingham. The closest to New Jersey bagels, Lox, Kippered Salmon, that I've been able to find. not quite the same as home...but damn close.
The Sole Proprietor - Worcester's answer to Legal Seafoods. Decent seafood in a very nice restaurant, on Route 9 West, just West of Main Street. They take reservations, and have good fish and lobster. Don't order the King Crab Legs. You get one and a half legs for $30.00. You're better off with a nice Lobster. Amazingly, they do take reservations.
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