|Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston|
There are times in my life when I don’t consider myself extremely lucky, but this past weekend I felt like the luckiest girl alive. While we were in Amsterdam over New Year’s, I received a phone call informing me that I had won a prize from the Visit Massachusetts FaceBook page. My prize? Two nights at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston! Who doesn’t love spending two nights away from home and not having to make your bed or cook? And so we spent the weekend of July 28-30 in our lovely hotel room at the Omni Parker House Hotel located at 60 School Street in Boston at the corner of Tremont Street. Situated close to Government Center, you can valet park your vehicle or take the T, Boston’s subway system, and then walk about a block to the hotel. Super easy and well worth it!
This was to be a surprise weekend for both my husband and son because they believed we were just going to kick back and enjoy a weekend in a hotel. Little did they know what the weekend would bring for them. As someone who loves giving surprises, I don’t know if I would have been as receptive as they were. I had to clue my husband in on Thursday night due to his job, but my son remained clueless for the better part of the weekend as to what my plans for us were.
My husband works only a few blocks from the hotel so he dropped me off and parked his car and walked back with our son. In the meantime, I checked into the hotel. Upon entering the hotel, you are immediately transported back in time and into another era. The hotel is full of history and is a well cared for historic building. The dark woods in the lobby surround you with richness and remind you of how it might have been staying here when it first opened in 1855. I love how it is in the center of everything and yet in all of the years I have lived here, I have never set foot inside this hotel once. Shame on me! I made my way past the bevy of bellhops quick to assist me and to the front desk where Patrick was there to wait on me. A short time later and I had the keys to our room and I was headed on my there. A man held the elevator for me and remarked how I was high up (floor 11) compared to his floor 3, which was “loud and noisy.” Looks like I made the right choice by asking for an upper floor.
The historic elevators are small, but there are several of them available. The wait for them isn’t long so don’t worry about having to wait around a long time. Once off the elevator, there are two immediate hallways in which to locate your hotel room so make sure you find the correct one early to avoid roaming the hallways. I easily located my room and stepped inside. There is also the old part of the hotel, which is a maze of hallways off the newer building. I could have easily gotten lost on that side, so I was glad to have a room near the main elevator bays.
|View from room 1116|
Our room looked out over the area toward Government Center and I could see the tippy top of the Zakim Bridge as well. A standard deluxe room with two double beds and a work desk, the room was certainly going to be big enough for the three of us. The room had a small closet with a safe, a small bathroom with toiletries including mouthwash, and there was even a comfortable chair in the corner by the window. The window does not open all the way and that is probably good since we were on the eleventh floor. I loved the clever placement of the mini-bar in the room as it was inside the nightstand between the two beds. What a pleasant surprise as I pulled the handle of what I thought was a drawer, which turned out to be a door to the cabinet housing the mini-bar. Storage in the room was lacking somewhat as there was only one small half moon dresser with three drawers and two side shelves. Since we were only staying two nights it wasn’t a problem, but if I had been staying a week, I could see how that would have been problematic. We made do with the few drawers and stored things in the closet and in our bags.
|Veggie fajitas for 2 at Fajitas and Ritas|
We decided to head out for dinner and we walked over to one of our favorites from the past, Fajitas and Ritas on 25 West Street near the Common (Boston Common). In all fairness, we hadn’t been here in several years and so I might have built up how great it was in my head before ever entering the door. Service was quick and although it lost some of its gritty edginess and looked more like what you might expect in any chain Mexican restaurant, it served its purpose. The mango margarita I ordered tasted like someone dumped tequila on top of a mango smoothie and that my friends, is not a good margarita. We ordered veggie fajitas for two while my carnivore son chowed down on steak fajitas, which were mostly grilled onions with some gnarly looking beef. Our vegetable fajitas included carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, and snow peas, but not much in the way of onions. It was seriously lacking in flavor and but for the hot sauce we asked for (El Yucateco), it would have been a bland dinner. I think when they expanded the square footage of the restaurant, they forgot what they were initially about, which for us was good food and a great atmosphere.
|Cupcakes from Cakeology|
Although it was still raining out, we meandered through Downtown Crossing back to the hotel and stumbled upon a small bakery, Cakeology. I could have leapt over the counter once I spotted the cupcakes as they looked so yummy. With so many choices available, Red Velvet, Double Chocolate, Salted Caramel, and German Chocolate were chosen and I opted for the Vegan Cupcake. Exciting! My husband and son really liked their cupcakes although I will say that my vegan cupcake was extraordinarily dry and I ended up giving part of mine to my son. I guess you could say that I’m slightly partial to my own vegan baking! Imagine my surprise when looking them up online for this post that the owner won the second season of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. If you’re in Boston, look them up online as they even deliver!
After a peaceful night’s sleep, we had breakfast in Parker’s Restaurant on the main floor of the hotel near the main lobby. With only one hostess, we had to wait several minutes to be seated, but found service inside the restaurant to be exceptional. Since we were going to have the weekend breakfast buffet ($23 per person), the servers brought us our water, orange juice, and coffee, and we helped ourselves to the food. They had a variety of fresh fruit including sliced cantaloupe, melon, pineapple, and watermelon, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, yogurt, granola, and oatmeal. For healthier appetites they had bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, cheese blintzes, and a large assortment of baked goods including muffins, rolls, and croissants.
|Time for an omelet!|
We sat down with our plates and started to eat when my son realized he could order a made-to-order omelet. He immediately jumped up out of his seat and ordered an omelet with ham, cheese, onion, and peppers and remarked that it was one of the best omelets he had eaten. The egg cook can make you an omelet or fried eggs as you like and they are prepared quickly and efficiently with choice ingredients. Let’s just say my son had a few plates in front of him with an omelet, scrambled eggs, pastries, fruit, and who knows what else. Yes, he did enjoy his breakfast most definitely! I would do anything for a teenager’s metabolism!
One of the really remarkable things that we found at the Omni Parker House Hotel was their special offerings that they had daily. Look for the sign in the lobby to see what is available from talks about the hotel to yes, Boston Cream Pie push pops available daily during the month of July free for all hotel guests. As the creator of the Boston Cream Pie and Parker House Rolls, it only seems fitting to offer Boston Cream Pie ice cream to your guests, don’t you think?
Locating the push pops was quite an adventure. The sign in the lobby says that they are located in the lower lobby, but we didn’t see any sign of them at all. We decided to give up and I wanted to explore and completely by accident we fell upon the freezer case storing the ice cream. They are down by the fitness center with a simple sign up above the freezer case. We directed several people to them and we then realized that we were not the only ones who couldn’t find them. They were great as a treat on a hot day, but I was told that they didn’t taste like Boston Cream Pie. Regardless, it was ice cream and it was free so all was good in the world on Sunday afternoon with my family.
|Charles Dickens’ room key at the Omni Parker House Hotel|
The history of the Omni Parker House Hotel is intriguing and one I knew nothing about at all. The hotel was home to the Saturday Club, also referred to as the Saturday Night Club, which consisted of literary dignitaries such as Charles Dickens, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. John Wilkes Booth was also once a guest at the hotel. Charles Dickens resided in his own apartment for two years and first performed “A Christmas Carol” at the Parker House. Other notable figures who have been seen at the hotel include Hô Chí Minh who was a baker in the bakeshop from 1911 to 1913, and Malcolm X who was a busboy in the early 1940’s. John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for Congress in the hotel’s Press Room and also held his bachelor party here. In addition, he proposed to Jackie Kennedy at Parker’s Restaurant (at table 40). We were able to determine where table 40 was and we also got to see Charles Dickens’ apartment key in the hotel lobby. History buffs rejoice as there is so much history not only in Boston, but all over this hotel!
|Tenth Floor of the Omni Parker House Hotel|
Something I found out about only after my arrival was the number of ghost sightings at the hotel. Had I know this, I most certainly would have asked for a room on the tenth floor. Apparently, between the apparitions spotted, orbs by bellhops, and unexplained sounds, this place is a hot bed for paranormal activity. Armed with my camera and my paranormal recorder app on my iPhone, I headed off to the tenth floor with my husband. We found a few interesting things like the JFK suite, but no apparitions, orbs, or sightings of any kind. Bummer! I thought we saw some orbs in one photo, but debunked it later as the flash reflecting on a few bumps in the wall. We did wander into the old building of the hotel and looked for room 1078, which was mentioned right on the hotel’s website. We searched high and low for this room, but it’s no longer an actual room that guest’s can stay in. My guess is that they renumbered the rooms, but I’m dying to know which one was 1078 and why they decided to change the room number. Sounds like there’s another stay in store for me at the Omni Parker House Hotel. If you ask at the front desk, they will give you an informational sheet titled “Omni Parker House Ghost Encounters” detailing some of the so-called paranormal experiences that have occurred in the hotel.
We had plans for Sunday evening and enjoyed a quiet afternoon before heading out. Although the epitome of tourist destination, Faneuil Hall is still a favorite of ours. We ended up at Wagamama, where we were able to grab a quick dinner before our evening plans began. The big surprise? Tickets to see Coldplay in concert at TD Garden. One of my husband’s favorite bands, my son and I tagged along and enjoyed a night of great entertainment and music. It was an amazing concert and I’m so glad we went. Concert goers were given electronic bracelets that lit up to the music while the band performed. With two opening acts and then Coldplay, we were easily out of TD Garden by probably 10:45 pm. Afterwards, we walked back from the concert and it took all of maybe 10 minutes to get back to our hotel room, which I don’t think is bad at all.
As the work week starts all over again, we headed for bed and got up early on Monday and headed out. The service at the Omni Parker House Hotel was attentive and thoughtful from check in to check out. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending this hotel to anyone who wanted to stay in the middle of Boston with access to everything while also having the availability to stand in a historic hotel full of history and maybe even paranormal activity! Additional pictures of the hotel and the rest of my exploits will be up on the Travel Shop Girl FaceBook page shortly so go check them out as. Why not check out some of the other photo albums containing pictures of resorts and cruises while you’re there?