Boston is one of a handful of cities in the US that I keep finding myself going back to over and over. Sometimes I find my way there for work other times for fun, and later this summer just by random chance. (A friend is getting hitched in Amherst so we’re flying in and out of Boston) The last time I traveled to Boston I had the pleasure of staying at the historic Omni Parker House hotel located in the heart of downtown Boston. The hotel is in a great location since it places you squarely between the Common and Faneuil Hall, while also having the North End easily accessible. I love historic hotels and the Parker house has an impressive pedigree in that respect so I was really excited to check it out. The hotel originally opened in 1855 by Harvey Parker was mostly demolished in 1927 when the current incarnation was erected. Over the years the hotel has hosted the likes of Dickens, Longfellow, Emerson, JFK, Ho Chi Minh, and Malcom X. In addition, ghost stories about the property abound which only added to my enthusiasm for the visit.
Our guest room was a little on the small side and didn’t offer much of a view, but as I’ve mentioned before small rooms are not uncommon in older hotels. I also noticed that sound carried easily and the walls seemed to be a little thin, but since we were tucked away on the back of the top floor that didn’t bother us too much. I also can’t really complain since I was piggybacking on my better half’s work trip so the room didn’t cost us anything. In contrast to the small guest room, the fitness center was fairly large given that it was obviously not part of the original plan. The center is located on the basement level in space that formerly held the hotel bar, and is well equipped as hotel gyms go. The real shining stars of this hotel though are its lobby and other public spaces. The elevator bank in the lobby has beautifully crafted brass doors with intricate gilding and the old school floor indicator that looks like a clock face. The walls are covered in wood paneling with marble and brass accents throughout the dimly lit space giving it certain elegance. The Parker House restaurant, made famous by their dinner rolls and Boston cream pie, also looked to be noteworthy, although I did not get the chance to dine there myself. (I did however sample their Boston cream pie which I found to be a bit of a letdown.) Predictably, my favorite place in the hotel was the Last Hurrah bar just off the lobby. It had comfy leather chairs, friendly bar tenders, and large windows looking out onto School Street. It was also picked by Whiskey magazine as one of the Great Whiskey Bars of the World, which was my big selling point because it means they had a great selection of single malts.
While the facilities were impressive, it was the staff at the hotel that really made the stay memorable. The first person we talked to after checking in was the Guest Services Manager Seamus Murphy who, judging by Tripadvisor and YouTube, is a well-known figure at the Parker House. (Given that he’s been there 38 years) He came up and introduced himself and shook our hands, and then looked at me and said “you can always trust a man in a Scala cap” referring to the news boy cap I was wearing. I found a great interview with him on YouTube talking about the hotel that I’ve included here for your viewing pleasure.
After hearing the story about Seamus and the Scala cap (and my affinity for Baseball) one of the hotel’s event managers brought my wife a red, white, and blue Red Sox newsy cap… I imagine that was not an entirely altruistic gesture, it certainly added a personal touch to the service and went above and beyond anything I would have expected.
I would definitely stay here again and would recommend it to anyone traveling through the Boston area, especially if you are in town to be a tourist. As I said at the beginning of this post I will be making a quick trip back to Boston in August where we have booked an overnight at The Liberty hotel which has some historical claims to fame as well. I’ll write about that and other parts of my Boston visits in a future posts.
Happy Travels Turtle Herd…