Voted Boston’s #1 hotel by Travel & Leisure magazine, Fifteen Beacon – occupying a 1903 landmark Beaux Arts building situated at the crest of Beacon Hill – defines luxury and style in one of America’s most historic cities. Gas fireplaces, whirlpool jet bathtubs, a roof deck, and a hotel sedan: “This is where appetites are whetted and sated.”
Image: XV Beacon
It should come as no surprise, then, that the concierge we interviewed went out of his way to be helpful, knowledgeable, and impeccably accommodating. Jonathan Nicholson has been a concierge for close to 12 years, working for Hilton Hotels and the Four Seasons in Boston prior to his experience at XV Beacon (where he has been a total of 8 years). He has recently returned to the city – and XV Beacon – after spending a year at the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center. Jonathan is a member of Les Clefs D’Or U.S.A. and a past runner-up for Boston’s Concierge of the Year. We can understand why.
Where do you send visitors when they want to have a drink in the neighborhood of your hotel?
We are lucky to have a great bar at our hotel restaurant, Mooo. The vibe is energetic and elegant, without being stuffy or standoff-ish. We want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable, and to enjoy themselves . We have an outstanding wine list, as well as an assortment of single malt scotches. And if you want to have a little nosh, we have a delicious bar menu featuring steaks and seafood.
If a guest wants to leave the hotel for a drink, Number 9 Park has a wonderful bar that looks out onto Boston Common. Classy and chic, with an award winning wine list, it is a wonderful place to enjoy a cocktail while you watch the hustle and bustle of the people in the park and the nearby Massachusetts State House.
I also suggest Silvertone Bar and Grill for a very casual place and great cocktails. The bar attracts a lot of locals and the staff is very friendly. The bartenders are quite knowledgeable and they have a (surprisingly) good – and inexpensive – wine list.
What’s a great place to take a date?
Sorellina in Boston’s Back Bay. Chefs Jamie Mammano and Robert Jean’s modern Italian menu, combined with the sultry ambiance of the dining room, are enough to make you and your date swoon. Staring out the window at the majestic Trinity Church and Copley Square as the evening light reflects off the John Hancock Tower, you might see Cupid dancing across the park.
I also like Carmen in Boston’s North End. It’s quaint (9 tables), so you are intimately close to your date, and the dim lights create a romantic atmosphere. This hidden gem, just off historic North Square, has been a longtime favorite with our guests.
When the weather is warm, grab a sandwich or a salad from the Parish Cafe and head over to Boston’s Public Garden for a picnic lunch. When you’re done, stroll through this urban oasis, and take a ride on the swan boats.
The Esplanade on the Charles River is also a nice picnic spot. You’ll get a taste of life on the riverfront in Beantown. On a nice day, the area is full of people biking, running, sunning, and just letting the world go by.
How about a good place for a girls’ night out?
Start with appetizers and/or dinner and cocktails at Mistral. The bar is always busy with young professionals from Boston’s Back Bay and South End neighborhoods. From there, head over to Post 390 for another pre-party drink, then off to The Estate or Boston’s newest nightspot, Royale, to dance the night away. Or, go extreme and head over to Jacques Cabaret to catch one of the drag impersonator shows.
What’s guys night without a little competition? Kings in Back Bay has bowling and billiards, along with tons of TVs to follow the big game. After you’re done pounding your chest, make your way over to Alibi Bar. Located in an old holding cell at the former Nashua Street Jail, it’s hard to believe that sorrow lived around this bar for so long. Even more reason to celebrate! Adorned with mug shots of celebrities, you may just need an alibi when you leave here.
Where can people go for a good local vibe?
The great thing about Boston is that our downtown area is very condensed. All of the neighborhoods offer a local vibe.
Charles Street is the quintessential Boston street. With it’s converted gas lamps, antique shops, boutique stores, and plenty of dining options, it is a place I would highly recommend to give a visitor the feel of the old style of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.
The North End is a bit like a street festival every weekend. Hanover Street and Salem Street are packed with people looking to get a taste of our Little Italy. Restaurants line both sides of these main drags. And they attract crowds of both visitors and locals.
Image: Beverly public library
Newbury Street is our ‘power shopping’ street, lined with cafes and restaurants with outdoor patios. With Chanel and Burberry at one end, and Urban Outfitters and legendary local music store Newbury Comics at the other end, we say there’s something for almost everyone on Newbury Street. On weekends, many locals head down here for some excellent people watching. You’ll see everything from ‘Sex in the City’ wannabes to hipster college students.
The South End is our edgy, progressive neighborhood. Filled with local restaurants ranging from Stephi’s on Tremont’s comfort food menu to the clean flavors of Ginger Park to the Asian bistro Myers + Chang to the gourmet southwestern American cuisine at Masa to the long time Thai favorite House of Siam to the provincial Italian menu at Stella, this neighborhood is a local foodie hotbed with an ethnic angle. There’s also the SoWa Arts District, featuring local artists, and the SoWa Outdoor Market every Sunday from 10am to 4pm, May through October.
The emerging neighborhood in the city is the Seaport District/Fort Point Channel area. This neighborhood full of converted warehouses and loft space residences is home to Drink and Sportello, creations of the talented Chef Barbara Lynch. Sportello is a casual Italian diner with outstanding food. Drink is a bar where the bartenders ‘craft’ your drink based on your favorite cocktail, using natural juices and exotic combinations to create some amazing concoctions. And Chef Lynch’s newest restaurant, Menton, featuring a nightly prix fixe menu concept, has raised the bar for Boston’s dining scene.
Where do you, personally, like to go out?
I usually try to go to new places to see what the buzz is about. Boston has a very vibrant restaurant scene. And it seems that places keep opening every month or so. You hear that a chef is trying a concept that sounds interesting, and part of my job is to find out what these places are like. But I do have a few favorites.
The Beehive is one of my favorite places. They have live music every night of the week and the atmosphere reminds me of a speakeasy. The night starts with a jazz band early on. Late night, they usually have an R&B group or a World Music band that plays. There’s room to boogie if you want to, or you can hang out at one of the bars to take in the scene. The crowd tends to be a bit more mature than the college age types at other bars. And it’s usually not too crowded, but just busy enough to generate an energetic buzz.
I also like Lucca and Tresca restaurants in the North End. Both restaurants have Northern Italian-influenced menus. If I’m feeling like a busy scene, I’ll go to Lucca and have dinner at the bar. If I’m feeling a little more relaxed, I’ll go to Tresca.
For steak night, I like the way Chef David Hutton prepares the steak at Mooo. Or a table upstairs at Grill 23 and a juicy filet mignon with a glass of red wine.