Checking In: Boston

Courtesy of Taj Boston

Boston believes in honoring its history (sometimes, in fact, slavishly so). Given that, it comes as no surprise that two “new” ho­­tels in the city both have captivating backstories. The just-opened Liberty and the recently christened Taj offer guests distinct—but equally chic—experiences, each celebrating a cherished past in present-day style.

Taj Boston

Past Life

The Ritz-Carlton, Boston, a 1927 Beaux-Arts jewel with views of the Public Garden. It was completely restored in 2002 to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

Neighborhood

Prestigious Back Bay, known for the high-end shopping at Copley Place and along Newbury Street.

Who’s There

Boston Brahmins and their out-of-town guests.

Rooms to Book

The Winston Churchill Suite, on a corner overlooking the Public Garden. It’s one of 45 suites with a working fireplace and there’s a Yousuf Karsh photo of Churchill over the mantel.

Best Dish

Ask The Café’s chef for the lobster roll, even though it’s only officially on the menu during spring and summer. Rock shrimp hash for Sunday brunch is also good.

Resident Expert

A doorman at the building for 60 years, Norman Pashoian is a storehouse of hotel and Boston history. He’ll recount how in 1949 he watched Churchill come down the lobby staircase giving his famed "V"—for victory—sign.

Best Amenity

The bath butler can draw one of four warm baths. We love the rose-petal option.

Stay In for…

The fireplace butler will build a fire with a choice of woods. For a quick-burning one before dinner, try birch.

Head Out for…

Outerwear shopping at Loro Piana. Or the apothecary at Louis Boston for luxurious candles and bath products.

The Basics

$550–$4,500. At 15 Arlington St.; 877-482-5267; tajhotels.com.

Liberty Hotel

Past Life

The Charles Street Jail, built in 1851 and closed in 1990 after being declared unfit for prisoners. Many of the architectural details, including four ocular windows in the atrium, have been salvaged.

Neighborhood

Historic Beacon Hill, near the State House, the Freedom Trail, and a cluster of antiques shops.

Who’s There

Boston beaux mondes and their jet-set friends.

Rooms to Book

One of 18 in the original jail building, each with floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed brick, and small holes where the bars used to be. Best are those in the corners of the fourth floor.

Best Dish

The Jail Bar brownie at CLINK, the hotel’s restaurant, makes for a sinful dessert. (And it’s the perfect ending to a meal of the excellent Colorado lamb shank entrée.)

Resident Expert

David Sargent, chief concierge and a Four Seasons transplant, is an ace problem solver. He recently arranged to have a famous pop singer’s baseball jacket tailored and bejeweled in less than 12 hours before she sang the national anthem at Fenway Park.

Best Amenity

High-tech rooms with LCD HDTVs, VoIP phones, and hubs for MP3-, CD-, and DVD-playing.

Stay In for…

Alibi, the hotel’s prison-themed bar, has Bos­ton’s fashionable lined up outside. Tell the bouncer you’re a hotel guest and walk right in.

Head Out for…

A wintry walk on the Charles River Esplanade. Browse the old prints and maps at the antiques shop Eugene Galleries, on Charles Street.

The Basics

$319–$5,500. At 215 Charles St.; 866-507-5245; libertyhotel.com.