Boston Back Bay or Waterfront?

May 6th, 2014, 07:38 PM
  #1  
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Boston Back Bay or Waterfront?

I'm planning a vacation to Boston this summer and I'm stuck on which area to stay-Back Bay or Waterfront. Many people say Back Bay has more to do but Waterfront is better in the summer. Also, what hotels in these areas are the best?
kaforrest is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 02:01 AM
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I lived on the Boston Waterfront for ten years, next to the Aquarium, a block from the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel. It was a very pleasant place to live and nice to walk along the water. There are plenty of restaurants, from expensive to simple, it is close to the North End, with its own restaurants, is two stops from the airport on the T, and has easy access to shopping in Quincy Market. One can get a water taxi to Charlestown where the Freedom Trail begins or ends at The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) and walk back to the Common.

That said, the Back Bay has easier access to almost everything except the airport. There is high end shopping ( Tiffany's at Copley Place, Cartier on Newbury Street), historic streets and buildings (Commonwealth Ave, Trinity Church) open space (the Common and Public Garden, the Esplanade) and access by different branches of the T to both Fenway Park and the MFA.

On balance, I would pick the Back Bay for a first time visitor, though in July you may well find it ten or fifteen degrees cooler along the water, but you can always go down there for an outside dinner.
Ackislander is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 04:33 AM
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Ackislander has summarized the pro's and con's well. I would add that the waterfront also gives you easy access to the Aquarium, the Institute of Contemporary art, and any sort of harbor cruise or whale watch. I think in the summer time, I would pick the waterfront.

I have a great fondness for the Boston Harbor Hotel, but its quite pricy. I stayed in the Marriot Long Wharf once and it was quite nice, though I didn't get a waterview room, and I believe they do have some.

There's not a lot to choose between the Back Bay hotels. I've stayed in the Colonade and the Fairmont Copley Plaza and both were fine. I suppose the best is the Taj, or maybe the Mandarin. The Elliot is a little out of the way but is very romantic. These are the best, but also expensive. You'd probably get better recommendations if you give us an idea of your budget.
china_cat is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 07:03 AM
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Agree with most of the above, though I think the dining around Back Bay is a bit better. Also, on weekends and at night, the Waterfront is a bit isolated, with the largely dead Financial District sitting between you and the rest of the city. Not a huge deal, as everything is pretty close, but the area is dead.

Also, there is the Waterfront and the South Boston Waterfront. The South Boston Waterfront remains emerging and is quite deserted at street level. You also have the same issue with the Financial District between you and most of the rest of the city, with the added benefit of walking past parking lots to get even that far.

Among Back Bay hotels, the Mandarin is the best, followed by the Taj. Among the Marriott, Westin, Colonnade, and Fairmont, all are pretty comparable, with the Fairmont and Westin with marginally better locations, but the Colonnade with the best rooftop pool. The Sheraton and Hilton are probably a step behind, along with the Courtyard. There are smaller hotels as well, typically a step behind.

The Eliot is a nice boutique near-luxury hotel, but the location is a bit fringe. Pleasant, but not as convenient as the Westin or Fairmont to the central part of the city. Convenient to Fenway, though. They do, however, have what I consider the best restaurant in Boston (Clio) and a contender for the best sushi in Boston (uni). The bar at Clio also has among the best cocktail programs. It is also very near Asta, another contender for best restaurants in Boston.

On the Waterfront, the Boston Harbor is good but older. The Intercontinental is very nice. The Fairmont Battery Wharf is excellent. The Marriott is a step down. Not sure what the other options would rank as. I assume the South Boston Waterfront hotels are decent corporate options.
travelgourmet is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 10:35 AM
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with Todd Maul leaving Clio, I'm not sure it has the best cocktail program anymore. I understand the dropoff has been cliff-like.

travelgourmet, have you been to Asta? I'm dying to try it but it is (a) expensive and (b) posts no menu samples or anything on-line, so I find it hard to get psyched up to go. I'd love to hear if you liked it.
china_cat is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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with Todd Maul leaving Clio, I'm not sure it has the best cocktail program anymore. I understand the dropoff has been cliff-like.

Todd is at Clio until the end of this month, so any dropoff is either imagined or owing to something other than his absence. He is amazing, though, so we will see what happens long-term. For now, though, I'm super excited by his coming to Kendall.

travelgourmet, have you been to Asta?

I've been there a couple of times. Excellent food - probably the most creative on the Boston side of the river. Creative beverage pairings. Friendly staff (especially Paige, who runs the beverage menu - she is so gracious and talented that I even forgive her overwhelming preference for European wines). I recommend seats at the counter where you can talk with the staff more. You can see the New Nordic influence on the menu and presentation, which might explain why I like it so much and makes me a somewhat biased observer.

FWIW, they do post a sample menu: http://www.astaboston.com/sample.pdf
travelgourmet is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 08:08 PM
  #7  
cw
 
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It's now easy to get to the Back Bay area from the airport now because Logan now has an express bus that goes from the airport to the Hynes Convention Center at the Prudential Center and also stops at Copley Square.

https://www.massport.com/logan-airpo...ress/back-bay/

It costs $5 per person.
cw is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 03:46 AM
  #8  
 
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That's a deal and would work well for anyone going farther out the Green Line.

I assume they don't take T passes.
Ackislander is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 03:43 PM
  #9  
cw
 
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It says they take T passes, but I'm not clear if it's the monthly pass only or if it includes the weekly.
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