Finding Freedom At Boston's Liberty Hotel - My Family Travels

Hip, new Boston, Massachusetts hotel — families looking for a happening place to stay can find a “Get Out of Jail” pass at Boston's reformed jailhouse.

Most of us will never spend a night in jail, but at Boston’s Liberty Hotel, you can come close by sleeping  in an elegant hotel built upon the former Charles Street Jail building.   There’s no punishment involved, as the mid-19th-century Gothic stone structure was gutted and renovated in 2007 to house the lobby, restaurants, conference space and 18 guest rooms. Another 280 rooms are housed in a 16-story glass and steel addition built along with a hospital complex, that is discretely tucked back from the facade so as not to interrupt its grandeur.

The Liberty is thoroughly modern, sleek and luxurious and in one of Boston’s best locations — sitting on the Charles River at the foot of storied Beacon Hill, near the Back Bay area, conveniently adjacent to a stop on the city’s Red Line rail system.  Food quality is first-rate, with Clink serving up a fine reasonably-priced breakfast (and more) and the highly-rated Scampo garnering rave reviews for its “new” Italian cuisine.

The soaring 90-foot lobby was the rotunda of the original jail and provides an impressive introduction to the hotel. Take your time and enjoy the lobby display (tucked in back near the reception) with photographs of the jail’s history and an interesting account about the most notorious of its former guests, those the city housed on a complimentary basis.  

Around and about the Hotel

Families will enjoy the neighborhood, the lush and picture-perfect riverfront bike path across the road along the Charles, with free bikes available from the hotel.  Due to an arrangement with sister Charles Hotel in Cambridge, bikes can be ridden one-way and left at the Charles, if the family runs out of steam for the return trip.

The convenient location and easy access to the “T” — the public train system — means you can be in Harvard Square in 15 minutes or the lively nightlife areas of the North End or Faneuil Hall in 10 minutes.  It’s a short walk over Beacon Hill to Boston Commons and the historic sites, which are a must with school-age children.

Off property perks include a discount for hotel guests at the boat rental facility on the river for canoes or small sailboats, both ideal for summer boating on the Charles.  Summer concerts with the Boston Pops are within easy reach at the Hatch Shell outdoor arena, a short walk down the Charles riverfront.

In Closing, So to Speak…

While not the most obvious choice for a family visit, the dramatic visuals and striking style of The Liberty are very appealing to kids of all ages.

One of the major perks for teens is the success of the hotel’s lobby bar scene.  At night, the joint is jumping, which for a passing experience to ogle Beantown’s youngest and finest is lively and fun.  Do stop in even if you’re not a registered guest, but don’t think of sending the kids down for a snack without an escort.  

Otherwise, The Liberty’s friendly staff delivers an altogether satisfying upscale base for exploring Boston and environs.    

The Liberty Hotel (617/399 4259) is located at 215 Charles Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, MA  02114. For 2009, summer rates begin at $315 for a double room with two queens sleeping four.

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