Question: I'm traveling to Boston and not sure where to stay in the city. Do you have any recommendations?
Because this is a frequently asked question, I thought it made sense to write down my thoughts here for all to read. I still need to get that permanent travel page up with links. (One day.)
Okay, let's talk about Boston
Your Agenda: First off, I'd start with your reason for visiting Boston. If you know what you'll be doing when you're here, check out a map and see where in the city you'll be spending the most time. I'd look for a hotel in that area first. Boston is actually a small city and with cabs (or Uber), the subway (known as the T), and your own two feet, it's fairly easy to get around. So while I recommend this step, don't freak out if you can't stay in your ideal location. Keep your budget in mind too.
This will show you the walkability of Boston. I used to work on Devonshire Street near State Street, not too far from the Old State House. When there were serious train problems, I would get off the train at Back Bay and walk to work. Yes, it took a little bit of time (about half an hour) and it wasn't anything I would do in the middle of winter but it was walkable. Check out those two locations on a map.
Safety: Boston is a fairly safe city. Tourists are most at risk for theft of personal items. The areas at risk for violent crime are locations where tourists most likely wouldn't have a reason to visit. If you stick with the hotels in the major parts of the city, you shouldn't have any issues with safety.
From a personal point of view, I never felt unsafe when I worked in the Financial District and, more recently, in the Seaport area. Keep in mind that I used to work late and often walked to the train station alone at night in the dark when streets in those areas were mostly empty.
Here's a quick rundown of the different parts of Boston where visitors are likely to look for a hotel:
Back Bay/Copley Square - This is a fairly central location with plenty of hotels and I feel like many visitors to Boston choose to make this area their home base, so to speak. You'll be near Newbury Street, the Hancock Tower, shopping, Boston Public Library and the Public Garden. Residential areas, such as Commonwealth Ave and Beacon Street, are right in the mix too. If your trip revolves around a Red Sox game, I would recommend staying here.
Financial District/Downtown - Don't discount this area simply because there are mostly businesses. The Financial District is pretty small and there are several hotels which are practically right next to the Freedom Trail. You'll be near the Theater District as well. Yes, Boston has shows!
Harbor/Waterfront - If you're coming from somewhere landlocked, why not stay on the harbor for the water views. You can walk along the water via the Harborwalk, visit the aquarium or stroll over to the North End. (Check out the Boston Harbor Hotel or the Marriott Long Wharf.)
Seaport - Twenty years ago, the Seaport area was known for their mud lots, which were unpaved parking lots charging far less than parking garages in the Financial District. Now, this is the up and coming area which has seen an incredible amount of growth and development over the past few years. Seaport is slightly out of the way if you do have plans in the city but, again, Boston is fairly small. I used to work here and walked from South Station everyday. The subway does extend out here as well so there are transportation options. If you do end up staying here, there are plenty of restaurants. I wouldn't say that there's a lot to do but if you're staying here for business reasons or because you found a deal on a hotel, it's not a bad place to be.
To read my post A Boston Tour Guide by a Bostonian click here.