Ah, Spring. Blooming flowers. Budding trees. Raging wanderlust. I’d look into the scientific explanation for why this time of year sparks my need to flirt with new horizons, but I’m too busy planning my next trip. And, if the Red Red Robin’s song bears a striking resemblance to “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” to you, too, then a weekend in Boston, Massachusetts, may be just what the doctor ordered. The city is in full bloom and beckoning to prospective visitors to scratch that travel itch just enough to tide us over to summer vacation. And I just happen to know the perfect place to stay.
Just over a year old, The Godfrey Boston is a full-service hotel with an inclusive, distinctly unfussy vibe. In contrast to the plethora of newly constructed hotels in the city, the Godfrey occupies two conjoined buildings on Washington Street that have been a part of Boston’s history since 1904 and 1908 respectively. The surrounding neighborhood’s rise from the ashes of its red light district past has resulted in a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly area where shopping, culture, and good food abounds. And the Godfrey sits, quite conveniently, at its heart. Easily accessible by mass transit, Downtown Crossing refers to the station where most of the major lines intersect, so you can get here from anywhere in the city. And vice versa.
The interior of the hotel is almost entirely renovated with sophisticated, modern fixtures. One of the ground floor’s chief assets is a spacious George Howell coffee shop, accessible from both the lobby and the street. George Howell is a Boston legend, and his retail presence at the Godfrey speaks volumes about the hotel’s connection to its community. In addition to serving (some of the best) coffee, the café holds public cuppings, brew classes, and palate trainings, making it a destination for tourists and locals alike. Students from the many neighboring colleges, drawn by the combination of free Wi-Fi and quality coffee, tend to populate the café’s spillover seating in the Godfrey’s lobby. That, combined with the lobby bar and cozy couches on the other side, creates a fun, relaxed space filled with an eclectic mix of pretty happy people.
The vestibule by the elevators still boasts the original interior architecture, offering guests a glimpse into the magnificent white-marble beauty of the building’s past. One other aspect of its original architecture that can be enjoyed from the interior is the oversized windows that flood all 242 rooms with glowing natural light.
Speaking of the rooms, they provide luxurious bedding, plenty of space, and thick walls that help keep noise to a minimum.
When you book your stay at the Godfrey, do yourself a huge favor: Make a dinner reservation at Ruka Restobar, the Peruvian-Asian-inspired restaurant on the main floor of the hotel. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I tend to avoid hotel restaurants, particularly in large cities that have so many other options. Don’t make that mistake here. Ruka is ahead of the curve on this kind of dining experience, which means its exciting and exotic space, though not small, is always packed. Reservations are a must.
As opposed to the popular “Asian fusion” trend, Ruka’s menu is inspired by the cuisine that emerged organically as more and more Asian people immigrated to Latin America, mainly Brazil and Peru, introducing new ingredients and cooking techniques. The Peruvian-Japanese tradition is also known as “Nikkei,” and the Peruvian-Chinese syncretism is called “chifa.” Ruka is both of these and more. Expect a lot of fresh seafood, including sushi, ceviche, and poké-inspired small plates, creative riffs on typical fried rice, show-stopping platters piled high with grilled short rib or crispy, tea-smoked duck, and cocktails that are as tasty as they are beautiful. We’re talking beyond Insta-worthy (and that’s if you care to stop eating and drinking even long enough to get a picture). And once you’ve had your fill, it’s an extra treat to know your cozy bed is a mere elevator ride away.
When (if?) you choose to venture forth from the Godfrey, a myriad of dining options await. Two standouts are the fairly new Oak + Rowan in the historic Fort Point Channel and Bostonia Public House. At Oak + Rowan, enjoy inventive American cuisine and craft cocktails in a spacious, airy and light-filled open room. My favorite during my memorable lunch there was the roasted baby carrot tartines with creamed feta, green harissa, and pine nuts. Bostonia Public House has a historic pub-type feel and, at brunch, boasts a Bloody Mary bar that practically serves as a first course. We’re talking bacon-wrapped scallops. Jumbo shrimp. Donuts! But don’t fill up because the food from the actual menu is also unbearably delicious.
Foodies will also enjoy visiting the Boston Public Market, a year-round indoor marketplace that supports local New England farmers and helps to grow small-food businesses and increase awareness around nutrition and sustainability. Its 3,200-square-foot demo kitchen hosts a variety of programs and community events.
Also be sure to check out the Rose Kennedy Greenway during your visit. The Greenway is a mile-and-a-half-long public park overflowing with contemporary art and community programming. Its weekly block parties are a major hit and to say the soon-to-open Trillium Beer Garden is “eagerly anticipated” is something of an understatement.
Boston is simply the best kind of city to have a fling with. It’s charming, low-maintenance, and endowed with an embarrassment of riches aimed specifically at pleasing you with no strings attached. However, should you choose to come back for more, you’ll always be welcomed with open arms.