An April 2004 trip
to Boston by MissKitty
Quote: What a fabulous time of the year to visit this great city! I was in town for a conference, so I had to squeeze in my sightseeing into short segments. But I managed to see a lot, and do a lot of eating.
Cabs from the airport to downtown are about , although I found it worth it. You can ride the subway into town, but lugging my bags all over the airport and then up the stairs at the subway station didn't appeal to me. But if you're young, strong, and broke, it might be worth it.
I got a great deal on my room by joining the Omni Select Guest program before making my reservation. Since I was in town on business and wouldn't be spending a lot of time at the hotel, I asked for the most inexpensive room. I was given a tiny room for one, with a shower stall, since there was no room for a bathtub. Since I was a hotel member, I was upgraded to a nicer (although still small) room for $119 per night. Although it would have been tight for two, I loved my little room, and was quite comfortable. I was on the 12th floor, so there was a great view of the Boston skyline and an ancient cemetery beneath my window.
As noted in the other reviews of this hotel, the amenities are wonderful. Nice robes, hairdryers, iron and ironing board, toiletries, and high-speed internet access make your stay comfortable. Hotel members receive free morning beverages and newspapers, along with turndown service on request.
The hotel's location is unbeatable. Almost every point of interest is within walking distance, including Boston Common, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, the North End, Chinatown, and the Freedom Trail. The subway is about two blocks from the hotel, at the edge of Boston Common, and provides easy access to other points of interest.
The hotel bars (Parker's Bar and the more casual Last Hurrah) are elegant but not stuffy, and I found myself lingering over drinks with colleagues, knowing we could drift upstairs safely. We watched as revelers arrived for weddings and parties, which seem to occur nightly. One blustery evening, a bevy of lovely young ladies with strapless dresses and high heels braved the wind and emerged into the lobby, all red-cheeked and windblown, giggling and holding on to the arms of their tuxedoed escorts. It was a beautiful scene, and one that has been repeated countless times over the life of this 148-year-old hotel.
I can't imagine staying anywhere else in Boston. Next time, I'm going to get a room on the sixth floor, where the long-deceased Mr. Parker still roams the halls and frightens the maids and guests, although he's just making sure that everything is still being done properly and to his standards.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 26, 2004
Omni Parker House
60 School Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
I was a lone tourist on a cold day, and was seated at one end of a long communal table. The place was almost empty, since it was mid-afternoon, and most of the people there looked like regulars. I had to try the baked beans, and thought a glass of Merlot would be appropriate. The beans were served with a large slice of cornbread, and were very good. I was almost too full to tackle the enormous turkey and Swiss sandwich, but it was delicious, and I managed to eat half of it.
The menu here is huge, and all the food I saw passing by looked great. Visit the website for a full menu and recipes for several of the restaurant's most famous dishes.
The waitresses here have a reputation of being "sassy," but my waitress was very sweet and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Located in the North Market at Quincy Market, this is a wonderful rest stop for a meal, or just a snack with a glass of wine. The decor is comforting and classic -- pressed tin ceiling, hardwood floors, communal tables covered with checked cloths, dark bentwood chairs. And with Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, the North End, and other interesting sites nearby, the location is great.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 30, 2004
340 Faneuil Hall
Boston, Massachusetts 02109
+1 617 227 2038
As would be expected, seafood dominates the menu. There are several whole lobster preparations, all of which looked delicious. Unfortunately, I'm allergic to shellfish, so I didn't get to enjoy the restaurant's specialties. But I was with a party of 10, and everyone raved over the lobster, shrimp, chowder, and steak. I had a bowl of leek and potato soup, which was too salty and not that great. But the crusty, tender popovers that were served with every meal were delicious, as was the Grand Marnier soufflé I had for dessert.
Although the restaurant is a little pricey, and can only be reached by cab or car, the views alone were worth the trip. Since I couldn't eat the entrees, I had room for my soufflé, and it was wonderful. We shared a bottle of dessert wine, lingered over our coffee, and enjoyed the city lights. A very nice evening.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 30, 2004
Anthony's Pier 4
140 Northern Ave
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
+1 617 482 6262
The building appears quite plain on the outside, but the inside is a maze of rooms jam packed with incredible art objects of every variety -- paintings, sculpture, furniture, textiles, ceramics, and architectural elements -- spanning 25 centuries. The Dutch Room is probably the most remarkable. A self-portrait by Rembrandt was Mrs. Gardner's first major purchase, and I literally stood there with my mouth hanging open. I have seen Rembrandts before, but this is the most remarkable one I have experienced. In 1990, a Vermeer, three Rembrandts and several other objects and paintings were stolen and have not yet been recovered. Since Mrs. Gardner stipulated that nothing in the home was to be changed after her death, the empty frames are still hanging, and are a sad reminder of this enormous loss.
The house is arranged around an Italian renaissance-style courtyard, which is elaborately embellished with marble columns, ancient sculpture, a Roman mosaic floor, and an abundance of plants and flowers. The benches around the courtyard provide a welcome resting place.
There is also a cafe, for which reservations are suggested. We didn't get a chance to eat there, but I bought the cookbook and the recipes are very tempting. The giftshop is available online, and I highly suggest buying a guide before visiting the museum. There is very little information posted in the galleries, since Mrs. Gardner wanted viewers to experience the art and not be distracted. The museum has an audioguide for $4, and I plan to try that next time.
There is parking available nearby for a fee, but the museum is easy to reach on the Green Line. Just get off at the Museum stop, cross Huntington, walk two blocks down Louis Prang Street, and the museum is on the left. Open 11am to 5pm Tuesday through Sunday, admission is free for those under 18, $10 for adults ($11 on weekends), $7 for seniors, and $5 for college students.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 7, 2004
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
London, United Kingdom