Your essential guide to Boston

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By Jessica Bowne

Boston native Jessica Bowne is the associate online editor of Modern Luxury, and writes on Boston and other cities for titles including Travel + Leisure, Ocean Drive and the Robb Report.

Find your bearings

A stay at Mandarin Oriental, Boston is teeming with possibilities thanks to the hotel’s location in the heart of the city centre on Boylston Street. Guests will find themselves two blocks from the Boston Marathon finish line and Back Bay’s historic meeting place, Copley Square. Take a slow walk down the seven-block Marlborough Street to admire its elegant brownstones, many with original façades intact.

Feed your mind

Mandarin Oriental, Boston, is just a few blocks from the historic Boston Public Library, which underwent an $80m renovation in 2016. Home to first editions of Shakespeare and Dante, the library also offers more than books: come here to see the rare murals by John Singer Sargent and enjoy the Italianate courtyard. The hotel is also a mile from the world-class Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the newest wing of which is the work of ‘starchitect’ Renzo Piano.

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library stands in Copley Square. Photo: Getty Images

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library. Photo: Adobe Stock

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Photo: Nic Lehoux

Isabella Stewart Gardner

Isabella Stewart Gardner died in 1924, leaving her museum “for the education and enjoyment of the public forever.”

Shop like a local

The city’s finest shopping lies within a few blocks of Mandarin Oriental, Boston: on Newbury Street, you’ll find outposts of luxury fashion and jewellery houses, including Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, and Burberry. It’s also gained attention in recent years for innovative, temporary pop-up stores, with everything from a Kanye West-orchestrated clothing store to an oyster bar. Take advantage of further shopping opportunities without leaving the hotel (almost), thanks to the connected entrance to the Prudential Center and Copley Place, where the stores include Dior, Jimmy Choo and Barneys New York. If you’re hunting for furniture to ship home, the nearby Beacon Hill and South End neighbourhoods offer some of the city’s finest antique and décor boutiques, including Ouimillie and Olives & Grace.

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Only in Boston...

“Boston is a diehard sports town and Fenway Park, (‘America's Most Beloved Ballpark’), is uniquely nestled within Boston proper, just a 15-minute walk from the hotel. Fenway Park has many little-known features, including one of the few remaining manually operated scoreboards in baseball. During every home game, there are three operators inside the left-field wall that work to keep the scoreboard as up-to-date as possible.” 

Philipp Knuepfer, General Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Boston

See some sights

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the USA, and the contemporary and historic often mingle here seamlessly. On Newbury Street, admire the architecture of the dazzling 40,000sq ft Restoration Hardware, a luxury homeware store housed in the former Museum of Natural History. Take a walk through the Public Garden, a lush escape in the city centre and the first botanical garden in the country. Continue through the garden and the adjacent Boston Common until you find yourself in front of the gold-domed Massachusetts State House, just as eye-catching as when it was built in 1798. Across the Charles River, Cambridge offers a wealth of architectural attractions, including Harvard’s original grass quad, ringed with brick buildings.

Toast your arrival

Start your evening at Mandarin Oriental, Boston, with a glass of Champagne and house-made pâtés at Bar Boulud’s intimate bar. On the same block as the hotel (you don’t even have to cross Boylston Street), take the ‘secret’ elevator up to L’Espalier, a fine-dining restaurant with an unparalleled view of the Back Bay neighbourhood, for wine and cheese in the library bar. And just a few blocks further, chef Ken Oringer has won fans with the new iteration of his cult favourite restaurant, Uni. Brush shoulders with the in-crowd and sip on imaginative cocktails.

Make time to unwind

Make time to unwind

Spa & Wellness

Restore body and soul at the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, with treatments such as the Second Skin facial, which uses Biologique Recherche anti-ageing products. For maximum relaxation, use the spa’s extensive facilities – including vitality pool and quartz crystal steam room – before you arrive for your treatment. In the spring and summer, stretch your legs with a two-mile walk to the James P Kelleher Rose Garden in the Fenway neighbourhood to admire more than 1,500 roses.

Dine in style 

While Boston still has a reputation for lobster and clam chowder (and rightfully so), the city offers a spectrum of international fine dining options. At Bar Boulud, enjoy fine French food, including tender escargot and beef tartare, in a lively atmosphere. For fresh New England seafood with a twist, walk one block to Select Oyster, and dine on Maine sea urchin crudo. Or take the ten-minute cab ride from Back Bay to Downtown Crossing for Peruvian-Japanese (known as ‘Nikkei’) cuisine at Ruka , a sleek restaurant filled with chic locals starting their evenings.

Ruka

Enjoy fashioanble Nikkei cusine at Ruka. Photo: Michael Adkins

Ruka

Ruka has a Late Night Sushi Hour from 11pm to midnight. Photo: Michael Adkins

Bar Boulud

The unmissable Bar Boulud, Boston.

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Bar Boulud

Tiramisu Tart at Bar Boulud, Boston.

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Time travel

The seductively spacious feel of the streets of Boston’s Back Bay is part of what draws international visitors to this part of the city, where you’ll also find Mandarin Oriental, Boston. The distinctive layout is the result of restrictions in the historic building’s original deeds, which dictated how far they needed to be set back from the street.

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And finally

Within the Prudential Center, Boston now has its own branch of the wildly popular Italian food and shopping emporium, Eataly. Don’t be shy about asking for samples.

Boston’s best shopping

Inside Quincy Market

Inside Quincy Market. Photo: dbimages, Alamy

Adidas x Concepts

On Newbury Street, the Adidas x Concepts store is a shopping collaboration from two major players in footwear and fashion.

Brattle Book Shop

Brattle Book Shop is a local institution, founded in 1825. Photo: Alamy

Olives & Grace

Olives & Grace sells goods from Boston's "best emerging food and gift makers"