Last Updated: 8/8/2023 | August 8th, 2023
I love Boston but I’m probably biased since I grew up here. I think it’s one of the most underappreciated cities in the entire country (and one of the best destinations). It’s just a wonderful, friendly place to live and visit!
Boston feels more like a big small town than a major metropolitian city.
Where to stau in Boston depends on a lot of factors. Boston is really small and very well connected by public transportation so you really can’t go wrong no matter where you stay. Nothing is too far from anything else.
But we all have preferences of what kind of vibe we want and what we want to be near.
So, today, I want to break down the best neighborhoods in Boston from a local’s point of view and give you suggested places to stay in each part of town.
But, before I get into the specific neighborhoods and recommended places to stay, let me answer some of the most common questions I get asked about Boston:
What is the best neighborhood budget travelers?
Budget traveler will probably want to stay in Brighton/Allston. It has lots of cheap food, accommodation, and nightlife options. It’s where a lot of the young people in the city live.
What is the best neighborhood in Boston for families?
Brookline is a quiet neighborhood that’s perfect for families who want to stay in a more residential area. The North End is also a good choice.
What is the best neighborhood in Boston for first-time visitors?
Back Bay/Copley or Downtown are the best and most convenient neighborhoods for first-time visitors to stay in as they are super central and near a lot of attractions.
What is the best neighborhood in Boston overall?
My favorite neighborhood is Back Bay/Copley. It’s got a little bit of everything, it’s centrally located, and there are a lot of great restaurants in the area.
So, with that said, here’s a breakdown of where to stay during your next visit to Boston:
Boston Neighborhood Overview
Where to Stay for Luxury: Back Bay/Copley
The Back Bay is one of the most beautiful (and upscale) neighborhoods in town. It includes the happening Copley Square (home to the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, and the shops at Copley Place), as well as the beautiful brownstone homes on the surrounding streets near the river. Plus, you’ll find some world-class shops and restaurants on the trendy Newbury and Boylston Streets. It’s one of my favorite areas in Boston. Fun tip: There’s a farmers market in Copley Square on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.
Best Places to Stay in the Back Bay/Copley
- BUDGET: Inn at St. Botolph – It’s hard to find a super cheap place to say in this neighborhood. This is as close as it gets. In a historic brick building, these beautiful serviced apartments are just like staying in Airbnb and come with all the amenities of home. There’s also a continental breakfast every morning.
- MID-RANGE: Boston Copley House – Copley House is actually a set of studio apartments located in traditional brick row houses, each with fully equipped kitchens and cable TV. The building also has a beautiful rooftop.
- LUXURY: Fairmont Copley Plaza – This is easily one of the most luxurious hotels in the city! It’s located near Newbury Street with its busy restaurant and shopping scene, but the hotel’s OAK Long Bar + Kitchen is an excellent dining option. If you’re staying on the concierge floor, you’ll get free continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres. There’s a rooftop health club and outdoor deck.
Where to Stay for Sightseeing: Downtown
Downtown is Boston’s commercial and financial center. It’s one of the oldest parts of town and is a maze of cobblestone streets and historic buildings set against a backdrop of giant modern skyscrapers. The area has become “hot” the last few years (it was run-down when I was growing up here) and you’ll find tons of hip cocktail bars and upscale restaurants here. It’s the best area for sightseeign as are lots of tourist attractions that make up the Freedom Trail (the Old South Meeting House, Faneuil Hall, and the Old State House) are here. Plus, it’s right next to Chinatown and the Commons (the city’s main park).
Best Places to Stay in Downtown
- BUDGET #1: HI Boston – HI Boston is one of the best in the HI chain. It has a kitchen and common area as well as rooms for meetings. The beds come with a personal shelf, a reading light, and power outlets. It’s the best hostel in Boston!
- BUDGET #2: Found Hotel Boston Commons – This hotel offers dorm rooms in addition to private rooms, so it’s a great option if you’re on a budget. You’ll get a bunk bed with a curtain for privacy and your own locker. The private rooms are pretty small, but they’re clean and newly renovated and come with a desk. I love all the wood finishings throughout the building.
- MID-RANGE: The Godfrey Hotel Boston – This boutique hotel has a stylish lobby as well as a fun bar serving up delicious drinks. The rooms have everything you need, including a desk area and lots of natural light.
- LUXURY: The Langham – This is a traditional-style hotel with a gorgeous ballroom; a chocolate bar on Saturdays in Café Fleuri; huge, opulent rooms with super plush beds and pillows; an incredible staff; and a grand entranceway. It’s a splurge!
Where to Stay for Budget Travelers: Brighton/Allston
Brighton and Allston are two neighborhoods known for their large student and recent college graduate populations. You won’t find a lot of tourists here. Because of this, the restaurants and bars cater mostly to the twenty-something crowd. There aren’t a lot of “things to do” in this part of town — it’s just more a cool area to stay in with cheaper nightlife and dining options than elsewhere.
Best Places to Stay in Brighton/Allston
- BUDGET: The Farrington Inn – This small guesthouse also has dorm rooms, making it one of the most affordable options in the area. All the rooms are air-conditioned, and some come with kitchenettes. There’s free Wi-Fi too.
- MID-RANGE: Studio Allston Hotel Boston – This ultra-artsy hotel appeals to young travelers, who like making use of the common areas and the outdoor patio (complete with a rum bar). Each room comes with its own unique artwork! It’s fun place to stay, even if the rooms are kind of small.
- LUXURY: AC Hotel by Marriott Boston Cleveland Circle – This hotel has convenient access to the whole city via the MBTA Green Line. It’s home to a nice business center and a 24-hour fitness center as well. It’s your standard chain hotel, really, but I like it for the location and lounge.
Where to Stay for Arts and Culture: Cambridge/Harvard Square
Home to Harvard and MIT, Cambridge is a quintessential college town across the Charles River from Boston. With its grassy parks and tidy town squares, there’s a great arts scene, plenty of museums, and lots of live music. There’s a restaurant here for every taste and some lovely bars. I think it’s one of the most culturally diverse parts of the city too. While you can find art and culture anywhere, I think this little area gives you a good sense of the small neighborhood vibes you get around the city.
Best Places to Stay in Cambridge/Harvard Square
- BUDGET: Irving House at Harvard – This is more a B&B than anything else, with a cute and cozy atmosphere; rooms with comfy beds, a desk, and couches; a shared kitchen space; and on-site laundry facilities. It’s a peaceful place to stay.
- MID-RANGE: Porter Square Hotel – Near Harvard and MIT, Porter Square Hotel has a lovely patio and garden during the summer months. Other than that, it’s a pretty standard hotel, with spacious rooms and lots of natural light. It’s clean, has friendly staff, and is one of the more affordable hotels in the area.
- LUXURY: Le Méridien – This contemporary four-star hotel has modern, spacious rooms, a 24-hour gym, a rooftop terrace, and a french restaurant on-site. The place is immaculately tidy and the beds are super comfy. It’s a place to splurge!
Where to Stay for Something Different: Seaport
When I grew up, there was nothing in the Seaport but the Children’s Museum and a lot of empty space. Now it’s one of the hottest parts of town, with a lot of condos, high-end restaurants, fancy cocktail lounges, museums, the awesome outdoor space Lawn on D, and the Harpoon Brewery. If you’ve been to Boston before or just want to stay in an area not traditionally thought about, stay here. It’s a really burgeoning neighborhood.
Best Places to Stay in Seaport
- BUDGET: Staypineapple at the Alise Boston – A trendy spot for young travelers, the Staypineapple has a lot of fun perks, like dog-friendly rooms and bicycle rentals. Fluffy towels and bathrobes are a nice touch.
- MID-RANGE: Aloft Boston Seaport District – Aloft hotels are always a good idea, and this one is no exception. All rooms have their signature beds and large walk-in showers, and the WXYZ Bar is an awesome spot to grab an evening drink.
- LUXURY: Seaport Hotel Boston – Located right along the waterfront, nearly every contemporary room at this hotel has wonderful views of Boston’s skyline. There’s also a swimming pool, fitness center, bike rentals, and a bar/restaurant on site (there’s a small Starbucks inside too!).
Where to Stay for Families: Brookline
Brookline is a big town, but part of it abuts Boston and the area from Coolidge Corner to the end of the Green Line is still “Boston.” That area has a quiet, small-town feel. It’s not overly touristy, mostly a residential area with quiet streets and brick apartment buildings.
Best Places to Stay in Brookline
- BUDGET: Coolidge Corner Guest House – This little place is a gem! It’s in a quiet neighborhood, it’s comfortable, and the owners are friendly. The rooms have very traditional décor, and they are all different. It includes free breakfast too.
- MID-RANGE: Longwood Inn – This 19th-century Victorian inn is cozy, charming, and conveniently located. You feel like you’re in an old-school B&B with comfy, old-style furniture and bedding. The staff are both incredibly professional and friendly.
- LUXURY: Courtyard by Marriott Boston Brookline – All the rooms at the Courtyard come with a work desk, a nice seating area complete with a sofa, and a coffee maker. The fitness center has cardio machines and free weights.
Boston is one of my favorite cities in the country. Not only does it have picturesque neighborhoods and top-notch dining and bars but it is steeped in history.
One of the things I love so much about Boston is that, for one of the biggest cities in the country, each neighborhood has its own small-town feel so you don’t feel like you’re in a giant metropolis. There’s also a ton of free things to do in Boston, so it won’t hit your wallet hard.
Book Your Trip to Boston: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
For a list of the best hostels, check out this post on the best hostels in the Boston.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Boston?
be sure to visit our robust destination guide to Boston for even more planning tips!