From the moment you’re greeted by the brass-buttoned bellhop by the door, you can tell that XV Beacon takes its traditional values seriously. Set in a peaceful, leafy stretch of Boston’s historic centre, this classic hotel hides original cage elevators, art deco furnishings and impeccably friendly service behind a beautiful Beaux Arts façade. Whatever you do, don’t miss the wine list…
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £416.65 ($569), including tax at 14.95 per cent.
Rates are room-only.
Rather than the conventional ‘do not disturb’ door hangers, XV Beacon has opted for a much more civilised system of deterring unwelcome intrusions – a little dial by the doorway can be set to ‘privacy’, ‘service’ or ‘off’ with a twist of your wrist.
At the hotel
Gym, CD library, free WiFi throughout, valet parking. In-room massages can be arranged through the concierge. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD player with iPod dock, gas fireplace, minibar, Fresh toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
The suites are great for size, sights and sofas, but we were drawn to Room 907 and its fellow Executive Classic Rooms, which are spaciously arranged and beautifully decorated, with Louis XV-inspired furniture, floor-length hanging mirrors and antique desks. All XV Beacon’s rooms are classically styled with high ceilings and art deco flourishes complemented by techy touches – huge flatscreen TVs and iPod alarm clock docking stations. Studios and suites have whirlpool bath tubs too.
There’s no pool, but the XV Beacon is crowned with a landscaped rooftop garden that comes complete with a hot tub – prime position for watching the Fourth of July fireworks.
All you really need to have stashed in your baggage is two names: Jack Mahoney (the doorman) and Mark Aloisi (the driver). Between them, they know everything there is to know about Boston and its surroundings.
XV Beacon offers all its guests a Lexus chauffeur service around town, as well as a set of personalised business cards for use during their stay.
Extra beds are US$35 a night. There are high chairs available in the restaurant and babysitting with a local nanny can be arranged (US$40, plus US$15 an hour, with a three-hour maximum), with 24 hours notice.
Some of the tables in Moo feature high-backed chairs for two to four. Grab one of these if you want extra privacy. Of course, for total seclusion, you can book an ultra-romantic private dining session in the Wine Cellar.
No one’s judged for jeans but decor alone demands a demure elegance, and we wouldn’t touch the wine list without a cocktail dress.
Mooo may be a steakhouse by vocation, but that doesn’t prevent it offering up a fantastic selection of lobster, stone crab and oysters in its warm mushroom-toned interior. Private dining can be arranged in the Wine Cellar, a vaulted chamber built around the foundations of a 1722 mansion and featuring a 2000-year-old Roman mosaic.
Whether you fancy a $17,000 1876 Château d’Yquem, a bottle of Hedisieck bubbly plucked from the wreckage of a Swedish schooner at the bottom of the Baltic in 1907 (a more modest $15,000), or a more economy tipple, lively, jazzy Moo Bar can deliver.
Breakfast, 7–10.30am; lunch, 11.30am–2pm; dinner, 5.30pm–10pm. The Mooo bar mixes its last martini at 11.30pm.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available in restaurant hours and there’s an all-day menu that can be ordered at any time.
The nearest airport is Logan International, three miles from the hotel. Private car hire starts at approximately US$145.
South Station is two miles away and the hotel can sort out your transfers for free. Taxis cost around US$7–$10 each way.
The hotel is centrally located in downtown Boston, near Boston Common. There's valet parking for US$42 per day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Newbury Street is the local shopping hub, but more culturally minded visitors can check out the Freedom Trail, a 2.5mile red-brick path that can take you through Boston’s monuments and architectural marvels in the space of an afternoon. To sample Boston’s musical heritage, head to the Beehive (+1 617 423 0069) on Tremont Street for a live jazz session.
Just steps away from the XV Beacon, Barbara Lynch’s dark and debonair No 9 Park (+1 617 742 9991) is a standard-bearer for Bostonian fine dining, with a fine selection of freshly prepared Mediterranean dishes, together with an exciting seven-course tasting menu. At 774 Boylston Street, L’Espalier (+1 617 262 3023) has bagged countless awards for its New England-inspired French cuisine. There are four dining rooms – the Library is our favourite. A few doors along, Abe & Louie’s is a classic gentlemen’s steakhouse, unfussily decked out with red and black leather booths and banquettes. Sonsie (+1 617 351 2565) on Newbury Street is a classic, moodily lit Italian brasserie at the hub of the city’s trendy dining scene. Bouchée (+1 617 450 4343) on the same street is a more informal and affordable French outfit. For fresh Italian, there’s nowhere better than Via Matta (+1 617 4504343) on Park Plaza, where you’ll find a chunky wooden table down the centre of the dining area laden with delicious foccacia, olives and antipasti.
Alibi (+1 857 241 1144) has its fingers on Boston’s pulse right down to the knuckle. Set in a converted jailhouse at the Liberty Hotel, it draws the coolest cocktail crowd in town. Daisy Buchanan’s (+1 617 247 8516) on Newbury Street, is more down-to-earth, but equally popular.
Romantic weekend getaways tend to have a minimum requirement: that two people go on them. Imagine my horror then, when, with bags packed in readiness for our weekend at XV Beacon in Boston, Mr Smith announced he was too ill to travel. Obviously, I was livid. But after a couple of minutes of incandescent rage, I began to see his point. You can’t stay cross at someone with streaming, bloodshot eyes and a voice that lies somewhere between Darth Vader and Kermit the Frog for long. Leaving him with a family-sized box of Lemsip and a couple of bottles of Lucozade on the bedside table, I headed out of the door alone.
And that’s how I’ve ended up on the ninth floor of an elegant turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts building completely on my own, making star shapes on the enormous bed and contemplating how many other people staying in the hotel that night are here without their partners. What can a girl do in Boston by herself? I toy with the idea of running a bath and then, catching sight of the shiny plasma-screen TV set above the traditional gas fire, found myself wondering whether I should treat myself to an evening of shameless screen-gawping instead. Whatever I choose, it’s going to be all about me this evening. The city will have to wait.
My growling stomach won’t though. The only thing I’ve eaten today is the slightly sweaty packet of cheese and crackers I was given on the plane, so I take a deep breath, throw open my bedroom door and head downstairs in search of food. Walking into Mooo, the hotel’s stylish, upmarket steakhouse, I am met with a hubbub of noise. It’s strange how loud the sound of other people really enjoying themselves is when you’ve got no one to talk to.
The restaurant throngs with people chattering, clinking glasses and waving cutlery over sizzling plates, and I suddenly feel ridiculously conspicuous. Luckily, a waiter takes pity on me and leads me to a table set discreetly at the back of the room, from where I can watch the comings and goings without feeling too exposed. I order a leek chowder and, while I wait for it to arrive, I find myself admiring the attractive and well-dressed clientele, and the classic cream-and-brown decor of the dining area, amid which wooden tables and regal high-backed seats sit on a shabby-chic exposed brickwork floor, in equal measures. I particularly love the way that the enormous lightshades cast a golden glow on the diners below, making even the most ardent steak-chewers look like those holy light-bathed figures in Renaissance art.
I follow the simple and tasty chowder with a more complicated but equally delicious fillet of grilled salmon served with whipped potato, brussel sprouts and pieces of fresh, succulent Maine lobster. I struggle to finish it though. Even after my day of abstention, the portion sizes defeat me. Completely full, I ascend slowly to my room in one of the hotel’s exquisite original cage elevators. Once I reach the ninth floor, I’m tempted to go back down, just for the pleasure of coming up in it again. With their brass-bordered, glass-fronted doors, exposed mechanics and letterbox-red leather interiors, the lifts are a potent symbol of this most historic of US cities.
The next morning, thanks to blissful, uninterrupted sleep and jetlag’s natural alarm clock, I wake early and decide to head out to explore the city. My day flies by in a frenzied whirl of shopping – this Mrs Smith is now a firm fan of the vintage boutiques in the streets around Harvard University – and eating, though I do make an effort to burn off the calories accrued by all the carbs I’ve eaten by walking the city’s famous Freedom Trail. Following the red line incorporated into Boston’s pavements and pathways, and passing heritage sites such as Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s house and other great symbols of American independence, I feel like a modern-day Dorothy, on my own yellow-brick road adventure. I arrive at Boston Common just as it starts to get dark, and spend an enjoyable 20 minutes or so with a take-out coffee, admiring the beautiful luminous white glow of its ice-skating rink against the crisp darkness of early nightfall.
Back at XV Beacon, I stop for a while to talk local history with Jack, who has to be the friendliest doorman in Massachusetts. He makes a sad face when I tell him I’m here on my own, and then starts listing all the great restaurants and bars I should hit when I come back to Boston with Mr Smith in tow. His favourite, it seems, is the sceney bar Alibi, which is housed in a former jail. I tell him that, so long as I’ve got no one to go there with, there’s no way I’m going in, mate.
I’m too full of cupcakes and lobster rolls from my day of wandering Boston’s streets to even think about dinner, but I figure that, as I’m on a break, I should treat myself to a glass of champagne in Mooo before disappearing into my room. Sitting quietly at the same discreet table that the lovely waitstaff gave me yesterday, I savour the sensation of bubbles fizzing against my tongue and realise I haven’t given that much thought to poor Mr Smith, the sick man of Europe, all day long. Who can blame me? XV Beacon, it turns out, has been the perfect weekend partner – stylish, charismatic and ridiculously good-looking – but, hey, all good things have to come to an end. I resolve to head upstairs and call Mr Smith. Once I’ve had another glass of Veuve Clicquot, that is…