Location The Charles Hotel is located in Harvard Square, yet this development (which includes an adjacent building housing condos) has become a neighborhood unto itself: Charles Square. Harvard University is a short walk away, as is the old Brattle Theatre, which still shows art house and vintage movies, plus the occasional live music event. There’s plenty of boutique shopping and wonderful restaurants like Harvard Square veteran Grendel’s Den, a family owned basement spot. In Charles Square, there’s a branch of locally-owned seafood chain, Legal Sea Foods. Public transport is plentiful and the Harvard Square (Red Line) T station is a short walk away. Walkers and runners can head to Memorial Drive, where a path runs by the Charles River. The John F. Kennedy Park lies just in front of the hotel on the Memorial Drive side. It’s a peaceful spot to sit or stroll, and is particularly convenient for hotel guests with dogs in tow.
Lodgings There’s something decidedly different about this AAA Four Diamond awarded hotel. It’s an independent luxury hotel with modern boutique sensibility, but, unlike most, it doesn’t overdo. Its design favors simplicity over swanky, and elegance over elaboration. It was built during the 1970s and is a fabulous example of Third Quarter Modernism rooted in the Bauhaus movement and Frank Lloyd Wright’s clean lines. The lobby is open-plan and dominated by a staircase leading to the second floor restaurants. The Charles Hotel is home to one of Boston’s best music venues, Regattabar, which, though predominantly a jazz club, features top name national, international, and local artists. The guest rooms (whose bathrooms have imbedded mirror TVs, a nice touch for the Tube addict) are uncluttered and have a Shaker-influenced style that runs throughout the hotel. Perhaps that’s best exampled by the quilts hung as art in the hallways and lobby, signifying a warm welcome and cozy night’s sleep. There’s business functionality to the Charles – and it certainly has its fair share of corporate traffic. But it also has a peaceful element, with many rooms, particularly The Presidential Suite, offering beautiful views over the Charles River.
View of a Room: 735 In this spacious room with floor-to-ceiling windows flooding the area with natural light, it’s impossible to feel cramped. A roomy king-size bed decked out in silky white linens and a navy and white patchwork quilt looks both crisp and fresh, and utterly cozy.
A large maple wood hutch houses a desk and a TV — the latter swivels to provide viewing from either the bed or the — can we use the word comfy again? — armchair with matching foot stool. The only artwork is a large chalk on black drawing of a professor at his blackboard instructing students. The words Doug loved his own lectures might be a hint for anyone lecturing at nearby Harvard not to take themselves too seriously! Oh, well, that isn’t the only artwork because the wall clock, with its inner workings in full view, is a fascinating objet, equal of form and function.
This room doesn’t have a river view. Instead, the John F. Kennedy School of Business (part of Harvard) is opposite, and the window offers a look over Harvard Square and the university’s old England inspired towers.
Restaurants and Bars Acclaimed New England Chef Jody Adams’s Italian inspired restaurant Rialto is impossibly sleek. It is open for dinner and has a small bar area,and a pretty covered patio, which opens when the weather warms up. From breakfast to supper, Henrietta’s Table is headed by equally storied chef Peter Davis, a pioneer of the locavore movement in the Boston area. In the summer months, it extends into the Charles Square courtyard for al fresco dining that’s free of traffic. The dimly lit Noir bar offers excellent cocktails and a small menu, and also has a patio for summer fun.
Fitness rooms, pools, and spas The independently owned Corbu Spa and Salon is located just across the courtyard on the hotel’s second level. Adjacent is the Wellbridge Athletic Club, which also has separate ownership, though all guests have complimentary access to the facilities. Wellbridge Athletic Club has an indoor heated lap pool and Whirlpool, and exercise rooms, one-on-one fitness training and more.
Tech WiFi is complimentary in the hotel guest rooms as well as the public space in the hotel.
Info One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA
Photo credit: The Charles Hotel