Battery Wharf Hotel: a whole new point of sail for Boston


BOSTON—I see my own city best from the water.

The Hub of the Universe has been my backdrop since I was 18 years old. And as beautiful as it is, as I walk its streets and even welcome its visitors, I don’t fully appreciate it through their eyes.

After an exciting regatta on Boston Harbor, full of wind and weather, we checked into the Battery Wharf Hotel for a night of celebration. MYLIFELIST PHOTO

Once I started sailing on Boston Harbor, I could appreciate it from a new perspective and see more clearly how the city has been transformed, in a way I couldn’t while standing on the sidewalk.

This whole realization came to me this week during an impromptu stay at the Battery Wharf Hotel.

The lobby of the Battery Wharf Hotel is a posh welcome on the waterfront, with soft sofas, chairs and even a baby grand. MYLIFELIST PHOTO BY SHELAGH BRALEY

We host a J24 regatta out of the Boston Sailing Center every summer, to benefit the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, bringing startup founders and friends together on the water to celebrate another year of growth.

Being part of the tech community that’s blossomed in Boston over the past decade, I clearly remember when the now-called Seaport District was just a bunch of parking lots, Whiskey Priest, and the Fallon building that housed our first class of the MassChallenge incubator.

My husband and I used to sit high up in that office space, overlooking Boston Harbor, imagining a time when the water would be the preferred mode of transportation for Bostonians trying to get from point to point. Over the years, we’ve discussed with friends and colleagues a future sailing trip that would include docking for drinks and dinner at Del Frisco’s on Northern Avenue, then jumping back aboard our craft to continue our journey north or south.

How cool would it be to rock up from a sailboat for a VIP martini and a steak? How unique are spots that have docks to make this dream possible?

These conversations replayed in my head as we walked toward Battery Wharf Hotel, perfectly sited on the water, a large Coast Guard vessel standing sentinel in the water below. We had gone to Ristorante Limoncello in the North End for a post-race dinner, with the requisite stop at Mike’s Pastry for cannoli, then headed back for a much-needed rest.

Our stay at Battery Wharf Hotel was just a five-minute walk to the North End for pasta and pastries. MYLIFELIST PHOTO BY MAURA STARR

(**A side note for parents of teens: Yes, some visitors to Boston prefer Modern Pastry, but apparently instagramming the Mike’s box is more “gas” now. You’re welcome…)

The hotel, a new destination for us, was a pleasant surprise—a neat brick walkway and illuminated trees guiding our path to the lobby door. Part of Boston’s HarborWalk network, the Battery Wharf Hotel features 150 guest rooms and suites, each with views of the Coast Guard Station, the harbor or the flower-filled courtyard.

Opened in 2008 as part of the waterfront “renaissance,” the AAA-rated Battery Wharf Hotel is a luxury experience within walking distance of the historic North End, Freedom Trail, and Faneuil Hall, perfect for families who want to check Boston off their life list.

Our room was clean and filled with fresh white linens, soft white robes in the closet, and a Nespresso machine that the teen was psyched to try (apparently her favorite YouTube star swears by hers). The mini bar had snacks that appealed to us all, including the Pinterest-worthy jars of candy and pop-top barbecue roasted almonds. We’d had such a full day on the water, now feeling the aches that come with racing, so the large soaking tub and rain head on the shower were a sight for more-than-sore eyes.

Our room overlooking the Coast Guard Station had all the amenities we look for in an upscale hotel experience: Fine white linens, thick robes hanging in the closet, Gilchrist & Soames of London toiletries, including bath crystals for the soaking tub, and a large shower with high-pressure rain showerhead. PHOTO COURTESY OF BATTERY WHARF HOTEL

We slept peacefully, without any noise from either within the hotel or out on the docks below. Upon rising, my husband grappled with the Nespresso machine until the teen woke. “I’ve been watching you struggle with that for five minutes,” she laughed, surprisingly not annoyed to be awake so early. (She did go right back to sleep.)

We ventured down for breakfast at the Battery Wharf Grill, where we were served hand-squeezed orange juice and coffee, as well as beautifully poached eggs, fresh fruit that was actually fresh, bacon and the most luscious homemade English muffins.

After breakfast, we took a quick pit stop in Café Amalfi to grab a caramel macchiato and croissant for the still-sleeping teen, a pleasant departure from chain shops. The heart shape in the foam of the coffee drink was a nice touch that showed pride in craftsmanship—you don’t just get that anywhere. The service was also exceptional. I watched a hotel guest approach the barista to ask for ice in her travel mug and she was accommodated without hesitation.

As we were checking out, I caught sight of something in my periphery out on the water—a Boston Water Taxi, picking up passengers and taking them out into the blue expanse beyond the dock.

They walked down the ramp, hopping on board as though it were an everyday cab or subway ride, and I realized: Boston has become a true waterfront city, just like Sydney, Australia or Venice, Italy. From Logan Airport to Piers Park in East Boston, the Blue Hills Pavilion and Fort Point Channel in the Seaport, all the way up to Menino Park in Charlestown, the development here has reclaimed the water that tea once made famous.

Boston is even better from the water.

IF YOU GO: Battery Wharf Hotel, 3 Battery Wharf, Boston. Call the hotel’s reservation line for best rates: 617-657-1834

Shelagh Braley is a Boston-based luxury/adventure travel journalist. She and her life-listing husband, teen and preschooler share their REAL tales of finding the awesome as they travel together. Come along with us. #mylifelist #findwhatmatters 

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