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Old 07-03-2012, 10:19 PM
 
Location: Eden Prairie, MN
7 posts, read 17,233 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello Everyone,

I'm 19 years old, from Minneapolis, and have planned a short vacation in which I will spend a few days in Brattleboro (taking the train from Boston), but I've also left some two days to discover the areas of Boston I didn't get to experience the previous time, which itself was a short, one-day stay in which I only got to visit Cambridge, Beacon Hill, and the downtown area.

What to do and where to go during my stay in Boston I can best find out by reading the countless guides out there. I have a few specific questions, though, that I don't think I can find in the guidebooks.

1. How critical is it to have a hotel reservation? I can surely find a reasonably priced place to stay at and reserve it right now, but my preference has been to have a more simultaneous experience by not making too many concrete decision right now. My main point of concern is whether I will be charged a significantly higher price if i just walk in and ask for a room as opposed to booking one? (I have relatively cheap hotels in mind, because I'm trying to have a more or less backpacking experience.)

2. This is my biggest puzzle: my return flight is at 6 AM on a Tuesday. I thought I might as well not stay at a hotel for that night. My first conviction is to find a place at the airport and busy myself with books, etc. But I was wondering if there are any places or activities that go on late into the night, so that I can occupy myself with those and cover part of my uneventful night which is going to be thoroughly spent at the airport otherwise.

Thanks!

Andrew
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:25 PM
 
3,755 posts, read 4,545,469 times
Reputation: 2845
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndRew93 View Post
Hello Everyone,

I'm 19 years old, from Minneapolis, and have planned a short vacation in which I will spend a few days in Brattleboro (taking the train from Boston), but I've also left some two days to discover the areas of Boston I didn't get to experience the previous time, which itself was a short, one-day stay in which I only got to visit Cambridge, Beacon Hill, and the downtown area.

What to do and where to go during my stay in Boston I can best find out by reading the countless guides out there. I have a few specific questions, though, that I don't think I can find in the guidebooks.

1. How critical is it to have a hotel reservation? I can surely find a reasonably priced place to stay at and reserve it right now, but my preference has been to have a more simultaneous experience by not making too many concrete decision right now. My main point of concern is whether I will be charged a significantly higher price if i just walk in and ask for a room as opposed to booking one? (I have relatively cheap hotels in mind, because I'm trying to have a more or less backpacking experience.)

2. This is my biggest puzzle: my return flight is at 6 AM on a Tuesday. I thought I might as well not stay at a hotel for that night. My first conviction is to find a place at the airport and busy myself with books, etc. But I was wondering if there are any places or activities that go on late into the night, so that I can occupy myself with those and cover part of my uneventful night which is going to be thoroughly spent at the airport otherwise.

Thanks!

Andrew

Boston is a good city to do priceline, or other such sites. Everything is so compact that it almost won't matter where you stay. May through October is prime time for Boston as far as tourists go, so rooms tend to be higher priced and fuller than the other 5 months out of the year. I personally have only walked into a hotel that day and got a room a couple of times, and it was not in Boston. So I am not sure how expensive they will be for a walk up.

Boston is not exactly NYC when it comes to being lively beyond say 12:30-1. The fact that you are 19 will hurt, only because you cannot hangout in a bar. Not saying it would have to be a loud, crazy bar where you would be knocking them back. But there are plenty of quieter places to have a drink and watch a game.
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Old 07-05-2012, 09:25 AM
 
7,227 posts, read 6,639,616 times
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If you are going to stay in a hotel, definitely make a reservation. Hotel prices fluctuate, depending what's going on at a particular time (conventions, etc.); it could be very hard to find a room in the city without spending a ton. If you are going to stay in a hostel you can probably get away with no reservations, but there's really no point--you know you have to sleep somewhere, why not figure it out ahead of time?

Also, if you stay in a hotel, contact them and let them know your age. Some hotels don't allow people under 21 to check in.

Boston's not much of a late-night city, but there are some 24 hour diners and some Chinatown restaurants are open until 2 or 4. Logan is pretty much dead until 5am.
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Old 07-05-2012, 06:20 PM
 
643 posts, read 989,499 times
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Have you looked at airbnb.com for accommodations? I find it a lot cheaper and more comfortable than a hotel (YMMV).
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Old 07-06-2012, 08:45 AM
 
Location: Boston
1,082 posts, read 2,773,869 times
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Might also want to look into Hostel International, which has a beautiful new facility in the theater district:


Image source: bostonhostel.org

It is quite reasonably priced and well located.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:22 AM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
11,362 posts, read 19,932,453 times
Reputation: 13040
Full disclosure: I work for Starwood hotels.

If you call the Starwood reservations number ( 1-800-368-7764 ) or make a reservation online for any Starwood hotel in Boston (Sheraton Back Bay, Westin Copley, Westin Waterfront, W Boston, Liberty Hotel Boston, Sheraton Commander in Cambridge, etc), you are not charged until check in, and you can typically cancel any time until the night before check in with no penalties (read the cancellation policy... it says when you need to cancel by and it's almost always 24 hours before check in). You do need to leave a credit card on file to reserve, but again, no charges (or holds) until you check in.

The no-charge reservation ONLY works if you book through directly through Starwood reservations (either the phone number or on the starwood hotels, spg, or hotel brand, i.e. Westin, website). If you reserve through priceline, hotwire, expedia, orbitz, hotels.com, etc. it's a prepaid nonrefundable rate. Personally, I'd suggest calling the number and talking to someone. Make sure you ask for discounts and specials because they'll only quote you the "Best Available" rate if you don't ask (there are always discounts available even simple ones like AAA). And just so you know I'm not making an elaborate sales pitch, I can almost promise you if you go on priceline or hotwire at the last minute you will get better rates at many hotels in Boston. Still, making a reservation that doesn't require a financial commitment is a nice way to have some piece of mind. I don't know if JW Marriott or the Intercontinental Group have the same policy (no charge until check in/ cancel up until 24 hour before arrival), but it would be worth checking. Marriott has two awesome hotels (Custom House and Long Wharf) downtown that are nicely located.

Honestly, It's a great way to assure yourself of a room in advance (a worst case scenario, I guess) while waiting and doing the last minute thing on Priceline or Hotwire (both of which work great in Boston). Hotwire and Priceline work best within the week before your arrival (they are primarily for hotels to sell unbooked hotel rooms at the last minute). Any 3+ star hotel in Back Bay, Fenway, Copley, Financial District, Beacon Hill, North End, Faneuil Hall, and Theatre District area will be safe, nice, and well located. Cambridge and the Seaport or Waterfront districts will be safe, nice, and OK in terms of location, but a little more disconnected from downtown. East Boston and Revere are airport hotels and may or may not have good connections to the city center (though Eastie is a cool, gritty neighborhood with some good dining and AWESOME views of the city... I suggest a trip to Piers Park for a sunset). Anything outside of that is suburban and should be avoided unless you plan on driving in and out of town or spending a lot of time on trains.

*edit* Logan will be quiet from about 11pm-6am. Little to nothing will be open. However, the airport is technically open 24-7 and you can sleep there. I've never done it, but here's a good site with some reviews on good spots to crash. Seems a lot of people like the rocking chairs between terminals A and C, and it's not a terrible idea to pay $40-50 to use the lounge of the airline you're flying on (assuming your airline has a lounge at Logan).

Last edited by lrfox; 07-06-2012 at 10:36 AM..
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:55 AM
 
Location: Eden Prairie, MN
7 posts, read 17,233 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks, everyone. All the posts were very helpful and informative, surpassing my expectations actually!

As for spending the night at Logan, I in fact did it once. It was in April and our flight was at 5am from the international terminal, though it wasn't an international flight. At around 11 pm the whole terminal completely shut down. They at first mistakenly let me through the security check, but once they realized that my flight was the next day, they asked me to return. It was a dreadful few hours: the place was cold and the benches were designed all with handles so that one couldn't even lie down. But perhaps in spite of this misery, it was a fun experience, though I'd rather be in a place with more people in it.

Again thanks, especially for the hotel/hostel suggestions.


PS: Are the towns of the North Shore (Salem, Beverly, etc.) easily accessible with public transportation?

PPS: Does the public transportation system (especially to Logan) work 24 hours a day?

Last edited by AndRew93; 07-06-2012 at 11:45 AM..
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Boston
1,082 posts, read 2,773,869 times
Reputation: 917
Salem and Beverly are served by commuter rail. It works quite well if you don't mind fitting your plans to the train schedule.
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Old 07-06-2012, 12:27 PM
 
7,227 posts, read 6,639,616 times
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The T does not run 24 hours. Subways/buses stop running 12:30-ish. Commuter trains (such as ones to the North Shore) run less frequently and stop service earlier. See mbta.com for schedules/details.
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Old 07-09-2012, 03:49 PM
 
Location: Eden Prairie, MN
7 posts, read 17,233 times
Reputation: 10
One last question: Returning back from Brattelboro to Boston, I'm torn between Greyhound and Amtrak. The bus apparently saves me a few hours, but are there other factors to consider? Any pros or cons such as scenery, etc. that come in mind?
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