The Mandarin Oriental Boston opened in 2010 with the vision of being one of most elite and convenient addresses for residents and tourists alike. There’s something about the hushed and quiet feeling of any Mandarin Oriental lobby I have visited that make even crying babies settle down. With a part spa and part library vibe, serenity is serious business here.
Among Boston’s five-star hotels, you can’t really dispute that the Mandarin Oriental wins the convenience contest, smack in the middle of the Back Bay’s action on Boylston Street. You can walk to the best shopping, the Boston Common, the Charles River and even Fenway Park within minutes. And if you are visiting Boston in cold or rainy weather, you’re in luck. The Mandarin Oriental is connected to the shops at Prudential Center and Copley Place, which makes this hotel ideal year-round, particularly for the strolling baby crowd.
When the Mandarin Oriental opened it was determined to be the most luxurious condo residence in Boston. Earlier this year, a two-bedroom residence sold at $3,880 per square foot, breaking all Boston records for price per square foot with a $12,500,000 price tag. The hotel’s rooms are very spacious, some of the largest in Boston. Our room’s calming green interior matched the patina copper trim scattered throughout our view of the Back Bay’s architectural charm.
The room was one of the most thoroughly appointed I have seen in our five-star travels of late. Stocked with a mini-office in the corner next to the desk, the hotel provides all of those office supplies you wish you had when one is organizing papers for a board meeting. Although, I quickly hid them in the massive walk-in closet so that my son couldn’t staple his artwork to the walls. The walk-in closet had its own valet station, and the bathrooms had anything you may have left at home.
My family was checking into the hotel for a summer staycation, and my daughter and I arrived first in order to enjoy some shopping and summer sales on Newbury Street, Boston’s main shopping district. In addition stores like Jacadi and In the Pink, a Lily Pulitzer store, my favorite is Mulberry Road that carries my two standbys Pink Chicken and Tea Collection. You can buy stylish shoes, gifts, and toys, too, from a variety of labels.
No family shopping trip with kids on Newbury is complete without a stop at Georgetown Cupcake. I dangle the cupcake stop as a carrot-like treat for kids who let mommy browse. Guess why the Boston location is better than the DC location: no long lines (usually). I am not an easy sell on the cupcake trend, but their chocolate ganache variety is hard to beat.
The skies opened, and a summer shower started. This is where the Mandarin Oriental location is so sublime. We gave the front desk our shopping bags and ventured inside the connecting malls to stay dry. Within a few feet lies a Mini Luxe nail salon, an Aveda hair salon, and Boston’s best toy store Magic Beans, known for their unusual, yet winning, formula of the best baby gear and toys on the market sold by extremely knowledgeable inked and pierced millennial staff in green t-shirts. There store is a complete showroom of the Mercedes, Bentleys, and Hondas of strollers. Give them a pop quiz on strollers, car seats, and baby carriers. They’ll ace it with a smile. With Magic Beans as close as a hotel lobby store, traveling with babies is a breeze at the Mandarin Oriental. Pacifiers, nursing equipment, bottles, clothes, or a new Sophie Giraffe are all seconds away.
The Mandarin Oriental Boston Spa is one of the most popular by locals, so planning ahead to get the treatment times you want will serve you best. The spa, consistent with other Mandarin Oriental properties, offers a space worthy of a full day’s retreat. They specialize in customized treatments, offering what you need in that moment, and I have such great memories getting a pregnancy massage a few years back with an exceptionally skilled therapist who understood the impact of pregnancy on the body. There are special spa hotel rooms adjacent to the spa for the ultimate urban getaway. Look for full a spa article soon.
My son and husband arrived to conclude our mother-daughter day. I looked into the back seat to see my son in his car seat asleep in his underwear, a way I have yet to check into a hotel. When guests arrive fully dressed and awake at a Mandarin Oriental property, they are presented with a welcome tea ceremony, and we could choose a hot or iced raspberry tea. Fortunately for the kids, they had kindly delivered cookies, fruit, and milk, too. My daughter’s nails were still wet, so she leaned over and coughed on the cookie she wanted to claim from her little brother. Nice.
We dressed my son and headed to the newly opened Bar Boulud. We were big fans of the former hotel’s restaurant, but we have really enjoyed Daniel Boulud’s places in New York. My daughter recently acquired the taste of hamburgers in the last year, and I was excited to show her what a real burger could taste like, as Boulud is famous for a DB Bistro Burger with foie gras.
Our French server’s accent was so stereotypically Parisian that it felt almost fabricated for the restaurant ambiance. It is definitely on the top of my list now for Boston’s foodie kid-friendly restaurants. Although there was no children’s menu, our server listed their many options. My son was tired and needed an iPhone game to entertain him while we ordered. I thought it was funny that our server gave my phone its own plate.
My children chose steak frites and the child-sized cheeseburger and sautéed vegetables. We started with a beautiful tzatziki appetizer and Boston lettuce salad. I had an immensely satisfying arrangement of scallops with a green harissa sauce and potatoes. My daughter’s burger, sans foie gras, was large, not the kind Shake Shack serves, and she said it was the best burger she had ever had.
After our excellent meal, we returned to a thorough turndown service with stuffed lobsters (the plush kind) and toys for my kids: a friendship bracelet making kit and a mosaic sticker set. This special touch by the hotel offered so much more, as my children settled into their toys, and my husband and I had several minutes of uninterrupted conversation. This was the best gift possible. My kids had been eager to try a bubble bath, and I was delighted to see Shanghai Tang products in the signature Mandarin lime and orange bottles. I immediately stuffed them all in my suitcase.
We climbed into bed and fell asleep for the night. The beds were so comfortable and the room darkening curtains worked so well that my children and I slept hours later than we ever have before, which felt fantastic. The three of us slept until 9:45. I haven’t slept that late in ten years. An in-room breakfast was the last ingredient to make this morning flawless. I enjoyed one of the best-prepared omelets with micro-minced vegetables, and I sampled the Illy in-room espresso maker several times.
This was one of those checkout mornings that I fantasized about double-bolting the hotel room door and not leaving. When would I ever sleep like that again? I’m always prompt at checkout and respectful of housekeeping schedules, but I found myself dragging. I got used to living at one of Boston’s most exclusive addresses too quickly, and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
At the front desk, I became engaged with one of staff in conversation, and my three-year-old was impatient. Another staff member procured crayons and coloring books and directed my children to their own table to draw. It was incredibly thoughtful, however futile, because my son wouldn’t eat most of his breakfast (he was too busy playing with the craft the hotel gave him), and his hunger was making him inconsolable. It dawned on me at that moment that the last time I had been in this lobby, he was still in my pregnant belly while I was enjoying my prenatal spa day. Even with a three-year-old in tow, the Mandarin Oriental Boston manages to serve families at all stages with a much needed recess of individualized service and restorative experiences.
Although we were guests of the Mandarin Oriental Boston, these opinions are my own.