Oh Boston, how I love thee. I had the opportunity to visit and explore the Back Bay with No.284, a guesthouse located right on Commonwealth (or Comm Ave as the locals call it). My old stomping grounds! Yep, flashback to 2010, when I wasn’t flying in and out of Logan every other week. I had grand plans of making this city my home all through college, and hopefully well into my 20’s. But the universe had other plans. I was miserable, homesick and I would go home every single weekend until I transferred to the University of Maine in December 2011. Looking back and seeing the way things have unfolded for me, I can’t imagine what my life would be like today if I had stayed. Now I can appreciate Boston and every time I visit I feel at peace and at home. Maybe one day Boston will actually be home but for now I’ll just be catching flights out of Logan and visiting when I get the chance. But like I said, this time I had the chance to visit the neighborhood my college was in. No.284 is just a block away from the admissions office of my old college, in the heart of Back Bay. Okay, enough reminiscing. Let’s get to why you’re here.
Stay — No.284
Like I said, No.284 is located in the heart of the Back Bay on the corner of Gloucester St. and Comm Ave. Just a block behind the very well-known Newbury St. Discretely appointed, with the only indicator being ‘284’ above the doorway and the very subtle black awnings, No.284 will have you feeling like you’ve taken up residence in a brownstone. Disclaimer: passerby’s will look at you wondering, ‘how does she live there?’ Literally. No big, extravagant hotel needed when exploring Boston- you’ll have everything you need right here.
There are five different types of rooms in this guesthouse. The Penthouse which has its own balcony with unobstructed views of the Prudential Center, the luxe king, the queen suite, luxe queen, and petite queen. I stayed in the luxe king, perched up on the 4th floor with beautiful views of Commonwealth Ave.
Inside you’ll have everything you need for a home base while exploring Boston. A very comfortable king size bed with goose down bedding, bespoke furnishing, and an additional seating area with that Comm Ave view! Grays, whites, blues and burnt oranges fill the space accompanied by all kinds of natural light that flood in from the 5 windows.
One of my favorite touches was the mini kitchenette in the room. No need to wait for room service to come take your dirty dishes, there is a mini sink, fully stocked cupboards with dishes and cutlery, a refrigerator for keeping your leftovers or snacks cold, and an espresso machine.
On the ground level, you’ll find the serene outdoor seating area, just off the library. The library is where you’ll enjoy the complimentary breakfast of fruits, pastries, cereal, yogurt and coffee! Afternoon tea and coffee is also served here. The ground floor beverage center is always open should you find yourself craving a diet coke at midnight.
Do + See
If you can peel yourself away from No.284, there’s a few things you should do!
Shop on Newbury Street
Obligatory. You can’t be a block behind Newbury St. and not walk down it at the very least. No need to shop if you don’t want to! Pro-tip: wander around first thing in the morning when no one else is awake.
Visit the Boston Public Library
Just two blocks up from No.284 is Boston Public Library. The pioneer of public library service in America, established in 1848. I never visited the library prior to this visit and honestly, I’m sad it’s taken me this long to get here! An absolute must-see when you’re in the Back Bay. Every inch of this place is beautiful from the outdoor courtyard on the ground floor, to the stairway leading up to the second, and the grand Bates Hall. I wish I had the chance to spend more time here.
Walk the gardens
A little oasis the heart of the city. Boston Public Garden and Boston Common are separated by Charles Street but are both great choices when in need of escaping the hustle and bustle. I prefer the garden. It’s a lush and shady escape from the summer sun in Boston. Start your date night in a swan boat, walk around early morning and smell the aromas of fresh flowers or just sit on a bench and feed the ducks.
Get lost in Beacon Hill
One of my favorite neighborhoods in Boston. One word to describe it: charming. The brick sidewalks and iconic brownstones lining the hills with perfectly curated window boxes gives me all of the feels. Two highlights in the area are Acorn St. and Rouvlais Flowers.
Watch the sunset from Fan Pier
Even though it’s not in the Back Bay I had to include Fan Pier because it offers, arguably, the best sunset view in Boston. The sun will set just behind the Boston Harbor Hotel – lighting up the skies in purples, pinks, and oranges.
There are two locations in Boston. For a quick breakfast fix I walked to Jugo’s on Dartmouth Street, in Back Bay Station. I ordered the Café Con Leche which is coffee with cashew milk, sea salt and cinnamon and the Santo Domingo pitaya bowl. The second day, yes I went twice, I ordered the same coffee because YUM and vanilla chia pudding with strawberries and mango.
My lunch spot on Boylston. Dig Inn is known for its chef-made, farm- sourced, vegetable forward food. All of the yes. Think Chipotle but better, like 100x better. They offer different types of bowls based on the veggies in season and you can either pick on from the menu or build your own! I built my own because, what can I say, I like what I like. Oh, I can’t forget! You can choose your base too- salad, rice or quinoa.
The afternoon coffee stop. You know a café is bound to be good when it is recommended by both people that have visited Boston and the locals! I stopped here on my way to Beacon Hill because I needed a little pick me up, and a break from the heat. I ordered an almond milk latte and coconut cloud which was a gluten free and dairy free meringue puff. That’s the best way I can describe it. I loved this spot because it had so many options for gluten free treats and lunches!
The dinner spot in the Back Bay. Lolita has been open for 7 years and there is still so much buzz surrounding this Mexican restaurant. You can expect authentic interpretations of traditional Mexican food. Think lobster guacamole, Brussel sprout tacos, and refreshing house made drinks like the coconut water and grilled pineapple juice concoction I sipped on. There are two things I experienced at Lolita that I’ve never experienced anywhere else in the world. When you’re seated, your waitress brings a palette cleanser of dry ice grapefruit slush. You have the option of adding a complimentary tequila shot! The second thing is when your waitress brings out your check, she not only brings out the bill but she brings a giant puff of green apple cotton candy!
Every vegan or lactose intolerant person’s dream. FoMu is serving up delicious dairy free ice cream in so many different flavors. I stopped by the Newbury St. pop up on my way back to No.284 and let me tell you, it was the best decision of this getaway. I went for 1 scoop of the cold brew and 1 scoop of the vanilla bean. Don’t ask me to pick a favorite because that would be impossible. Other flavors like avocado, raspberry crumble, chocolate pudding, and strawberry rhubarb shortcake were on the menu. Trust me on this one, even if you aren’t dairy free or vegan you must try FoMu, you won’t believe your taste buds. If anyone knows how to get FoMu in Maine, lemme know!
Getting around Boston is SO easy! You can walk nearly everywhere. But modes of transportation include the bus, the T, cabs/Uber, and bike rentals dotted throughout the city (starting at just $2 a ride).
Wake up early to get photos of the Boston Garden without people in them!
On that note, wake up early for just about everything and try and get to your number one must-see spot (for me that was the Boston Public Library) right when it opens.
You cannot photograph the Boston Public Library with a DSLR unless you’ve been granted access. I found out the hard way but still was able to get a few photos. Learn more and request access here.
If you’re planning to eat at Lolita, try and make a reservation a few days in advance or plan on waiting.
There you have it folks! Some of my favorite spots in Boston’s Back Bay! If you want more, here’s the Google Map I made featuring all of the spots above- and then some!
This post is written in partnership with No.284 however, as always, my opinions are my own.