Boston's Hotels Offer Surprisingly Great Holiday Dining Options

It's the Christmas season and you're traveling. For a festive, tasty meal, you don't even have to leave your hotel.

There’s something undeniably special about walking into a pine-garland-festooned hotel lobby with a brightly lit tree reaching to the ceiling. Especially when many Boston hotels are as proper as can be this side of the pond. While these establishments pamper year-round, the holiday season especially focuses on hospitality for both overnight guests and visitors to their restaurants. Befitting a historic city, Boston has a longstanding tradition of great hotel dining which carries on to this day. Make a meal extra festive by stopping in to feast on some extraordinary food by award-winning chefs and consider it a gift to your palate and your spirit.

Meritage Restaurant boasts arguably the most wine-savvy chef in the country, Daniel Bruce, who is nationally known for his sophisticated New England cuisine. At his “vineyard-to-table,” Boston Harbor Hotel-based restaurant, Bruce features a grape-centric menu with dishes paired around styles of wine: roast Maine organic chicken breast with French chablis, grilled American Wagyu tenderloin with California cabernet and charred, seared tuna with Oregon pinot noir.

Meritage's lamb chop
Meritage's lamb chop (©Francine Zaslow)

Another legendary local chef's unabashedly sensual, bold cooking has been thrilling Bostonians for three decades. These days it's at her Scampo restaurant, where Beacon Hill meets the West End, at The Liberty Hotel, a building that used to be the Charles Street Jail. Scampo is an Italian culinary playground for the James Beard award-winner, who serves up lobster pizza, brick chicken with quinoa polenta, king crab risotto and a notable mozzarella bar (burrata, bufala, homemade mozzarella and/or quark). 

Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, with its density of hotels, offers refined excellence to travelers wrapping up their holiday shopping lists on Newbury Street, Copley Place and the Prudential Center.

Internationally acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud and New York's Cafe Boulud alumnus/chef de cuisine Michael Denk offer Mandarin Oriental hotel diners a selection of French and American bistro favorites at Bar Boulud, including steak-frites, fish and chips, croque monsieur/madame, lobster orecchiette, New England sea scallops, boudin blanc and coq au vin. Plus, the charcuterie is direct from Paris.

On Newbury Street, in the refined luxuriousness of The Cafe at Taj dining room, one can feast on chef Andrew Beer’s fastidiously prepared American fare and/or chef Gurminder Gidda’s delicious Indian food. Bay of Fundy salmon, creamy polenta, and asparagus or coconut fish curry. Organic chicken, whipped potato and sherry Hollandaise or chicken tikka masala. It’s fun to note that Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor, and Ted Williams have each dined here.

Lobster orecchiette at Bar Boulud
Lobster orecchiette at Bar Boulud (©Bar Boulud)

Shoppers at the Pru can exit onto Huntington Avenue to find Colonnade Hotel eatery Brasserie JO where only the language spoken by your server (or GPS) pinpoints your location as Boston rather than Paris. This authentic French brasserie conceived by Chicago/Las Vegas superstar chef Jean Joho and executed by chef Nicholas Calias, serves escargot en cocotte, tarte flambée, mussels marinière, salade Niçoise, and steak-frites, just as you’d enjoy them in the 10th arrondissement.

Not only Boston’s best place for power breakfasting and celebrity spotting, Four Seasons hot spot The Bristol is a darn good restaurant. Executive chef Jessica Biederman’s inventive menu hops around the world with cauliflower agnolotti, veal schnitzel, ramen and seared black bass. And the Bristol burger with Grafton cheddar, onion jam and Thousand Island dressing is the stuff of legends.