The US East Coast’s most European city combines Old World history with modern flair, alongside magnificent outdoor spaces, niche arts and dining spots and a lot of fun

In the 19th century, Oliver Wendell Holmes declared Boston the ‘hub of the universe’, from which its nickname – the Hub – is derived. While that may seem a bit exaggerated, the city does have a rich history, vibrant art scene and some of the best dining and shopping in New England.

Retail detail

Homeware store Louis Boston Boston isn’t nearly as conservative as its reputation might have you believe. Newbury Street, just a block from Mandarin Oriental, Boston, assembles many of the city’s most fashion-forward shops: Chanel, Valentino and Akris, as well as a slew of independent boutiques. Alan Bilzerian outfits the avant-garde in Alexander McQueen, Yohji Yamamoto and Lanvin. At Louis Boston, a shop that’s been dressing Boston’s finest since the late 1800s, the offerings are decidedly modern: it houses more than 50 designers including Marni, Zac Posen and Dries Van Noten, and its home accessories department is packed with vintage handbags, couture bedding, an apothecary and in-store eyewear boutique Morgenthal Frederics. Guests are also encouraged to visit Louis Boston's satellite store located at Mandarin Oriental, Boston. In nearby South End, Peng offers contemporary and vintage home accessories, furniture and jewelry, as well as hand-sewn calfskin goods.Mandarin Oriental, Bostonalso provides fabulous shopping options, with Gucci, Frette and yoga outfitter Lululemon.

 

Spectacular sights

Harborfest drummers Overlooking Copley Square, the majestic Boston Public Library was founded in 1848 as the first free municipal library in the US. Rare works include John Adams’ private book collection and several first edition Shakespeare folios. The hidden outdoor courtyard is an ideal hideaway for tea and snacks. The 4km (2.5 mile) Freedom Trail takes walkers through Boston passing 16 historic landmarks, including The Old Granary Burial Ground, where many of Boston’s most famous revolutionaries, including John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, are buried; the Bunker Hill Monument; and the Site of the Boston Massacre. In the historic neighbourhood of Jamaica Plain, the 130-year-old Arnold Arboretum – the world’s leading centre for the study of plants – is open year-round displaying 265 acres of trees, shrubs and flowers.
 
Where to relax The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston offers body treatments with herbs native to New England

Culture vulture

The Institute of Contemporary Art has made a huge impact The new Institute of Contemporary Art overlooking Boston Harbor has forever altered the Boston landscape, and mindset, with a stunningly beautiful building and permanent collections from Nan Goldin, Laylah Ali and Rineke Dijkstra. The 100-year-old Museum of Fine Arts has been made hip with concerts by musicians such as Vampire Weekend and Bettye LaVette, though its 450,000-work collection of American, Asian and European art is reason alone to visit. A thriving art scene means that galleries here are notable stops for art lovers; two of the best are Samson Projects and the Barbara Krakow Gallery. During the holidays, Christmas music is synonymous with the Boston Pops, a Boston Symphony Orchestra tradition since 1885, while dance aficionados will enjoy Boston Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker.
 

Out and About

Boats in the Public Garden Despite the often-unpredictable New England weather, Boston is an outdoor-loving town, with more than 9sqkm of parkland spread throughout the city. Within walking distance of Mandarin Oriental, Boston, the Public Garden, dotted with a mix of native and introduced trees, is a National Historic Landmark. A jog along the Charles River, which divides Boston and Cambridge and is filled with rowers, provides views of Harvard University. Community Rowing runs boats out of the Harry Parker Boathouse, an architectural masterpiece, until the first snowfall. But to really live like a local, become a sports fan for a day: baseball season begins in April, but until then the 17-time world basketball champions, the Boston Celtics, put on a hoops show at the TD Banknorth Garden.
 

All in good taste

Asana at Mandarin Oriental, Boston New England is famed for its seafood, but Boston has also become known for its stellar dining. At O Ya, which The New York Times named the country’s best new restaurant of 2007, Tim Cushman and his team of sushi masters create traditional Japanese fare, paired with an extensive sake and wine menu. Neptune Oyster in the North End offers more than 22 different types of oysters nightly. For something lighter, South End tapas hotspot Toro is open late, while Bina Osteria offers small plates in the classic Italian tradition. In addition, the restaurants within Mandarin Oriental, Boston have been welcomed to the local dining scene with open arms. These include Asana, offering contemporary American fare with global influences, and the French Sel de la Terre and L’Espalier.

 

See and be seen

Map of Boston For a nightcap, head for Drink in the Fort Point Channel neighbourhood: there are no menus, instead, the bartenders will mine their knowledge to create something to suit your mood. In the South End, The Beehive has live music most nights, while across the street The Butcher Shop pleases late-night crowds with a fine wine list and upscale bar snacks. Finish the night at Mandarin Oriental, Boston’s M Bar & Lounge, where you can choose from an array of seasonally crafted cocktails.

 
How to live like a local Become a sports fan for a day: the 17-time world basketball champions, the Boston Celtics, put on a hoops show at TD Banknorth Garden
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