The Waterfront/North End/Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Businesspeople and sightseers dominate the hotels in these neighborhoods, which become increasingly desirable as the Rose Kennedy Greenway evolves.
Best For -- Travelers who want easy access to the Financial District and waterfront attractions, the airport, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
Drawbacks -- Touristy atmosphere, distance from the Back Bay and Cambridge, expense (at most properties).
Financial District & Downtown Crossing
The hotels in this area are closer than their Waterfront competitors to the major shopping areas, the start of the Freedom Trail, and the subway to Cambridge.
Best For -- Businesspeople and sightseers year-round; winter weekend travelers on a budget.
Drawbacks -- Generally drowsy at night and on weekends; weeknight room rates tend to be high.
Beacon Hill/North Station
These neighborhoods are home to many downtown workers; while they walk to work, visitors can stroll to the waterfront attractions.
Best For -- Access to public transit. Travelers who prefer the residential feel of Beacon Hill to the more businesslike atmosphere of downtown will be happy here.
Drawbacks -- Generally pricey; check with a B&B agency for more affordable alternatives. The narrow streets around North Station attract rowdy crowds after big events at the TD Garden arena and on weekend nights.
Charlestown is home to the final stops on the Freedom Trail. Away from the Charlestown Navy Yard (home to "Old Ironsides") and the Bunker Hill Monument, this is a largely residential neighborhood.
Best For -- Travelers with business in Charlestown or east Cambridge, families who want to be close to the Freedom Trail, and anyone who needs easy access to downtown (by MBTA ferry or water taxi, and on foot).
Drawbacks -- Access to the Back Bay and central Cambridge isn't quick or easy; lodging and nightlife options are limited.
South Boston Waterfront (Seaport District)
Hotels in this rapidly evolving neighborhood are magnets for business travelers and conventioneers. The Institute of Contemporary Art and Boston Children's Museum are in this area, which is accessible by Silver Line bus from the airport and South Station.
Best For -- Access to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Seaport World Trade Center, and Logan Airport. Cambridge is a quick trip from South Station.
Drawbacks -- Downtown is some distance by bus and subway or on foot (Faneuil Hall Marketplace, for instance, is at least a 15-min. walk), and access to the Back Bay isn't great. Dining options are limited, and there's no shopping or entertainment to speak of.
This lively area -- a small part of it was once the red-light district, but the whole neighborhood gets nicer by the day -- is near the Public Garden, Boston Common, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway but not very green itself.
Best For -- A compromise if you need access to both downtown and the Back Bay, often for less than you'd pay in those areas.
Drawbacks -- Narrow, congested streets create a gritty atmosphere; the Theater District is crowded before and after performances but deserted late at night.
The South End
Berkeley Street runs from the Back Bay across the Massachusetts Turnpike to the most convenient corner of the sprawling South End, where you'll find these two lodgings.
Best For -- Budget-conscious travelers with business in the Back Bay; easy access to the South End's excellent restaurants.
Drawbacks -- Access to Cambridge isn't easy; Berkeley Street is fairly busy all day and into the evening.
The Back Bay
Boston's widest variety of lodgings is in this neighborhood, which stretches from the area around the Public Garden past the Hynes Convention Center.
Best For -- Anyone who wants to be where the action is. The Boston area's best shopping and people-watching is here. Budget-conscious travelers have more options here than in any other centrally located part of town. The Esplanade, the recreational area on the Charles River, is a great place for a walk or run.
Drawbacks -- Rates can be extremely high, especially during citywide events such as the Marathon. Tour groups overrun the neighborhood year-round, especially during foliage season. The most convenient T access is on the unreliable Green Line. Reaching Cambridge isn't easy or consistently fast (the subway can be as slow as the pokey No. 1 bus).
Outskirts & Brookline
What Bostonians consider "outskirts" would be centrally located in many larger cities. Brookline starts about 3 blocks beyond Boston's Kenmore Square.
Best For -- Travelers who want more room and lower prices than properties in other areas generally offer. For those who must drive, parking is generally (but not always) cheaper than it is elsewhere.
Drawbacks -- Unless they're in town only to visit Fenway Park or the Longwood Medical Area, sightseers staying in this area essentially become commuters to downtown Boston. If you're visiting Cambridge, public transit connections are unwieldy at best.
Across the Charles River from Boston, Cambridge has its own attractions and excellent hotels. Graduation season (May and early June) is especially busy, but campus events can cause high demand at unexpected times, so plan ahead.
Best For -- Well-heeled visitors to Cambridge, and travelers to downtown Boston and the South Boston waterfront, which are relatively easy to reach on the T from both the Harvard Square area and East Cambridge.
Drawbacks -- Access to most other areas of Boston, notably the Back Bay and South End, can be slow, expensive, or both. Budget accommodations are limited, and parking at most hotels is almost as expensive as parking in Boston.
At & Near the Airport
Accommodations in this neighborhood range from high-end business hotels to budget chain lodgings, but even the least expensive properties aren't the dirt-cheap motels found near airports in many other parts of the country.
Best For -- Anyone with an early flight. If you're not staying at the Hilton, make sure that you know the shuttle schedule and that the front-desk staff knows you have a plane to catch.
Drawbacks -- Distance from attractions, relying on the hotel shuttle to get to the subway.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.