Best Fall Getaways
Been there, done that. Or have you? Discover 23 weekend getaway properties so transformed, you’ll never believe you’d set foot in them before (and why fall is the perfect time to visit them).
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A Second Look
23 Hotels Reborn
A flophouse, a dorm-like college hotel, an island resort reception hall with no windows—lodgings faded, distressed, and ravaged by time. These were the establishments we decided to investigate and suggest this year. Why? Because those on this list were “redone”—some to the tune of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars—and have reemerged on lists of distinction. So, if you generally are lured by the new and noteworthy—shunning those B&Bs, inns, and hotels you feel are way past their heyday, think again. Rebuilt, renewed, or refreshed, the following establishments are worth a second look.
Millennium Bostonian Hotel
26 North St /// Boston, MA (617) 523-3600
From White Plains: 3 ½ hours
The Millennium Bostonian Hotel updated its décor from shoddy to chic
Tradition is thrown on its head in this top-to-bottom $24 million redo. Gone is stodgy décor and in its place one of the most stunning and exotic hotel lobbies on this list. Shiny red and black lacquered bookshelves, a cherry-hued area rug, a charcoal-gray floral brocade couch, zebra-skin stools, and large gold apples accessorize the gateway into this service-is-key hotel right across from historic Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall.
Room: Refurbished in masculine tans, ecru, and charcoals accented by orange garnishes, sleeping quarters might front a cobblestone byway or Quincy Market and the Big-Ben-like clocks of Faneuil Hall. Huge travertine bathrooms feature rain shower heads in a glass shower fit for two, and custom toiletries include an arm-sized loofa. Ask for room 442 ($350), which gives you views of the market and a perfect perch from which to catch street performers. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the sweet sound of a saxophone playing “The Star Spangled Banner” as the sun goes down.
Board: New North 26 (26 North St, Boston, MA 617-557-3640) gets high marks for libations like the “Cupcake Tini,” and blue-cheese-stuffed martini olives that, when soaked in Chopin Vodka “open heaven’s gates,” according to one fan. You and 11 friends can hold court at the chef’s table adjacent to an 18-foot-tall glass wine case, and enjoy inventive bites like mushroom-onion gallet and superb grilled calamari.
Only Here: The Millennium literally sits atop U.S. history. When the Bostonian Hotel was built 28 years ago, architects were required to preserve a maze of historically protected cobblestone alleyways—some only a few feet across—within the building’s footprint. They did this by designing three separate structures joined by enclosed skywalks from which visitors can peer below into our nation’s past.
While Here: Though Quincy Market has turned into a franchise mall, you still can find a few original shops, like cookie purveyor Boston Chipyard. Best to sign up for Michele Topor’s three-hour North End Market Tour (northendmarkettours.com), which gives you an informative old-school taste of the Italian neighborhood.
Facts and Figures: Room rates from $169 to $399 include complimentary organic coffee in the morning and homemade lemonade in the afternoon. Wi-Fi costs $9.95 per day.
15 Beacon St /// Boston, MA (617) 670-1500
From White Plains: 3½ hours
The XV Beacon oozes Old World charm.
Devotées of XV Beacon include politicos, celebs, and refined luxury hounds who check in to this 62-room boutique hotel for the Old World Bostonian private-home experience fused with ultimate service. Within steps of the State House, a stylish, abstract dark brown-and-cream parlor that serves as the lobby often buzzes with locals (and visitors) making plans. Recently, guest chambers have been refreshed with flat-screen TVs and cashmere throws and the on-site restaurant, Mooo, just opened to great acclaim.
Room: Picture yourself post-shower in your Frette bathrobe, sprawled out on a luscious pillow-top contemporary four-poster, reading a delivered-to-your-door New York Times in front of a flick-of-a-switch gas fireplace. Walls, floor, accessories, and bedding are in coffee colors of every permutation from café au lait to dark Arabica. And unexpected architectural details—like chunks of crown molding that break up the brushed-nickel fireplace façade—give the crisp, modern aesthetic an interesting twist.
Board: Why eat anywhere else when Mooo (mooorestaurant.com), the hottest city steakhouse that doesn’t look like a steakhouse, is right downstairs? With a delicate color palette of “cappuccino foam” and mushroom, it would be easy to discount the seriousness of the beef here. Fear not. Chefs know how to char a side of cow to perfection. But even if you haven’t had a slice of red meat since your big-hair days, you will be happy. Asian-influenced tuna tartare is exceptional, wonderfully caramelized bay scallops arrive perfectly seared, and even the most health-conscious can’t help but grab fistfuls of ethereal truffled Parmesan fries.
Only Here: Two Lexus sedans are on call providing complimentary rides to downtown Boston (which, in a city notorious for impossible parking, is a priceless perk), and the concierge is a member of impeccable Les Clefs d’Or.
While Here: Take advantage of the 10th anniversary getaway, which includes an automatic room upgrade and choice of one of 10 “enhancements,” ranging from free overnight parking (usually $44), breakfast for two, Boston beer-tasting, a free ride to Logan Airport, or a bottle of Champagne or wine ($410 per room, subject to availability).
Facts and Figures: Rooms range from $295 for a stately classic to $1,900 for a two-bedroom suite.
Portland Harbor Hotel
468 Fore St /// Portland, ME (207) 775-9090/(888) 798-9090
From White Plains: 5 hours
The Executive King suites at the Portland Harbor Hotel have separate sleeping and sitting areas.
From time to time, Bruce Springsteen comes to Portland to lay down some tracks, and, when he does, he stays in the brand-new king suite at the Portland Harbor Hotel. This traditional luxury hotel in the midst of an artsy, cobblestoned old port town, designated “America’s Foodiest Small Town” by Bon Appétit magazine in 2009, has also drawn Leonardo DiCaprio and Jerry Seinfeld to its just-built six-suite wing. A snug parlor serves as concierge and reception area where the ultimate in friendly staff await. There’s a complimentary Town Car at your service to take you anywhere within city limits. And, for turndown, expect a signature chocolate lobster on your pillow.
Room: Most of the 101 rooms are tastefully traditional, but if you prefer cosmo-contemporary, stay in one of the six new suites, in a separate, exclusive wing with its very own elevator. The Executive King Suite ($350-$470) is one room split into sitting and sleeping zones by a double-sided glass fireplace. Japanese sliding panels open onto a large soaking tub and the khaki-colored granite-and-wood bathroom. Two of you can take a shower in the double rain-shower-head shower with granite enclosure.
Board: The in-house restaurant, Eve’s on the Garden, is the perfect place for a pre-dinner cocktail or a signature “Benedict” or omelet in the morning. But Portland is a James Beard-winning restaurant town, so best to hit a few that have put it on the national radar. If your heart can handle it, waddle to hole-in-the-wall Duckfat (43 Middle St), and order the fries crisped in, yup, duck fat. Ask the concierge to book you a coveted table in the center of the action at Fore Street (forestreet.biz), a 2010 James Beard contender where the menu changes daily based on the fresh ingredients delivered every morning.
Only Here: Walk the cobblestone streets and check out eclectic shops. Take in the art galleries and the Museum of Art. Plan to come October 21 to 23 for Harvest on the Harbor (harvestontheharbor.com)—a food and wine festival.
While Here: Take a two-hour windjammer sail (portlandschooner.com) on Casco Bay to absorb the beauty of the Maine coastline (through October).
Facts: Traditional rooms, $169-$350 per night; contemporary suites, $200-$470 per night.