Skate Away or Make Pizza at Boston's Charles Hotel from $259/N - My Family Travels

It’s a contemporary red brick structure that blends in with almost everything else in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. A classy place with several award-winning restaurants and bars, a hangout for local Harvard alumni and visiting intelligentsia. It’s also a family-welcoming place, with cute offers like a “Smarty Pants” deal which bundles tickets to the local museum and reading matter with room rates.

The Charles Hotel, however, doesn’t have that New England stuffiness that sometimes comes with Boston’s fanciest places. The hotel’s garage can power electric cars, there’s eco-friendly room cleaning and its energy-saving construction have earned The Charles the “Good Earthkeeping Award” from the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Even its restaurants are cool; noted Chef Peter Davis from Henrietta’s Table teaches aspiring chefs basic recipes ranging from chicken noodle soup to pizza, on Saturday afternoons.

But our favorite perk during the winter is the hotel’s small skating rink, very convenient for beginners who can have instant access to hot chocolate as needed. “Come Skate Away” is the rink’s opening ceremony on Sunday, December 19. There’s complimentary ice skating and skate rentals from 12-8 pm., with a visit from Globe Santa, performances by top ice dancers, cocoa of course, and an opportunity for younger kids to visit the Kids’ Cookie Decorating, all to support The Boston Globe’s annual appeal for needy children in Greater Boston.

The 2,900 square-foot Rink at The Charles remains open afternoons until March 19, 2011 (weather permitting), and all day on weekends; special family rates for 2 adults/2 children apply. Families traveling in from out of town will want to check out the “Winter Skateaway” package, which is available as long as the ice lasts.  The Charles Hotel Winter Skateaway package includes:

– Overnight in a deluxe guestroom
– Complimentary valet parking
– Skating and rentals for two at The Rink at The Charles
– Breakfast from room service, or for 2 in Henrietta’s Table, excluding weekend brunch
– Day of fitness for 2 at the adjacent Wellbridge Athletic Club

The Winter Skateaway Package starts at $259/N per room, based on double occupancy (children’s rates apply to perks) through March 19, 2011. For your chefs, note that cooking classes at Henrietta’s begin February 5, 2011 and continue Saturdays from 12:30-2pm all month. Parents can enjoy 10% off of lunch at Henrietta’s while they wait; reservations at 617/661-5005, recommended for ages 6+, $20 fee.

For bookings, contact The Charles Hotel (800/882-1818, 617/864-1200), located at 1 Bennett Street in Cambridge, MA 02138.

The hotel is also promoting its “Spontaneous Snow Emergency Rates” for @charleshotel followers on Twitter and Facebook, who can grab day-of snow, last minute discounted rates whenever Boston’s Logan airport closes or a city snow emergency is declared.  Good steal; room rates were discounted up to 50% in the winter of 2009/10.

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