The Charles Hotel
1 Bennett St // Cambridge, MA
(800) 882-1818/(617) 864-1200 // charleshotel.com
Distance from White Plains: 4 hours
Harvard Square teems with activity. Students crowd coffee shops in the morning and grab beers in bars at night. Bargain-hunters rummage trough bookstores and vintage shops. Couples on dates share falafel sandwiches and sample tacos in the neighborhood’s surfeit of restaurants. Culture-vultures take in an indie film at the Brattle Theatre (617-876-6837, brattlefilm.org) or a performance by the American Repertory Theatre (617-547-8300, amrep.org).
It seems as if The Charles Hotel isn’t just well positioned to take advantage of the life of the neighborhood—it is part of the life of the neighborhood. The hotel’s Regattabar is regarded as one of the best jazz clubs in Boston. (The 26-year-old club has won Boston magazine’s “Best of Boston” award no less than 14 times.) Its Noir, a 1940s-style bar serving classic cocktails like the Mai Tai and the Old Fashioned, was recognized as having the “Best Nightlife” by Food & Wine magazine, and revelers spill from inside to outside on warm nights. Even the courtyard at the entrance to the hotel, which abuts the Kennedy School of Government, is a happening spot for community events, hosting everything from a weekly farmers’ market in warm-weather months to an ice-skating rink in the winter.
Not just the last refuge for tired tourists, the hotel’s two on-site restaurants are also part of the Harvard Square scene and are likely to draw in a crowd of foodies and locals. James Beard Foundation Award-winning Chef Jody Adams heads up Rialto, an upscale dining destination with a menu that rotates across Italian regions. But, for our tastes, the better choice is Henrietta’s Table, a farm-to-table eatery, whimsically decorated with pigs of all sizes, which is dedicated to local and sustainable food. Even if you skip the hotel’s dinner options, breakfast at Henrietta’s Table—with applewood-smoked bacon, farm-fresh eggs, pumpkin bread, and stick-to-your-ribs biscuits—is not to be missed.
After you’ve experienced all of that, you can finally make it up to your room. Guest rooms overlook Harvard Square, Cambridge, or the Charles River. Sure, there are custom-designed quilts all over the place—on the beds, decorating the lobby, etc.—but the hotel has more of a modern feel, with Skype-enabled “web cube” workspaces set up in the halls, in-room Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs. There are even TVs in the bathrooms; when turned off, they’re magically indistinguishable from the bathroom mirror (and they don’t fog up, either). Ask for the Presidential Suite, and you’ll be set up in a top-floor retreat with five flat-screen TVs, an oversized shower with two heads and six side spouts, a separate dressing room, and a view of the Boston skyline. And it’s not just a clever name for the digs, either: rumor has it that two high-profile Westchester neighbors—the Clintons—stay at the Charles when they’re in town.
The Nitty-gritty: Standard rooms range from $199 to $499 per night based on double occupancy.