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Shopping in Boston

Boston offers the usual plethora of chain stores, but there are still enough individual and idiosyncratic shops and boutiques to please all but the ardent purist.

Key areas

Newbury Street, which runs the length of the Back Bay district from Boston Common to Massachusetts Avenue, is the high end of the market with expensive and designer shops, art galleries, book and antique shops and cafés. Other good shopping areas include Downtown Crossing featuring a mix of department stores and street stalls, Beacon Hill and South End.

Markets

There are several fantastic farmers' markets in Boston offering locally prepared, seasonal produce. They include: Haymarket, City Hall Plaza Market, SoWA and Hyde Park.

 

Moving towards the middle of town, another popular spot is Faneuil Hall Quincy Marketplace. Originally built in 1826 as a meat and green grocery hall, it now contains over 100 shops, cafés and restaurants. The original Filene's Basement is at 426 Washington Street. The Basement is the place for committed bargain-hunters, while upstairs is a sensibly priced department store with the full range of products.

Shopping centres

The Prudential Center, Huntington Avenue, is jam-packed with more conventional shops and restaurants.

 

Copley Place, on Huntington Avenue, is also good for browsing if you're interested in upmarket, luxury retailers such as Jimmy Choo or Tiffany. Meanwhile, Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is New England's largest outlet center offering 170 stores with discounts of up to 65%.

Opening hours

In general, Boston shops are open Monday-Saturday 0900/1000-1800/1900, with malls and larger stores also open on Sundays 1200-1800. Different shops and areas will often have one late-night closing at around 2000.

Souvenirs

Boston is a great for New England regional products: cheeses, butters, maple syrup, breads, pastas, craft beers, and locally produced chocolates. Red Sox baseball merchandise is also popular for sports-lovers, while historical-related products to the American Revolution and Boston Tea Party are also popular.

Tax information

There is no sales tax on clothes under US$175 and only a 6.25% sales tax otherwise.

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Oasis Guest House

This modest 30-room guesthouse is located in one of Boston’s best neighbourhoods and offers simple but comfortable accommodation in a series of attractive brick-fronted buildings. Rooms are simply furnished with queen beds, armchairs, TVs and generic prints. The price includes free internet access, use of the kitchen facilities and a complimentary breakfast.

HI Boston

This cheap and cheerful hostel offers 481 beds in total, and is niftily located in the Theater District/Chinatown area. There is a games room, cafe bar, internet access and laundry facilities. If you're not a member of Hostelling International, you have to pay a daily $3 charge, but this is still one of the cheapest, centrally located accommodation options around.

Hotel Marlowe

Stars, compasses, planets and diamond/harlequin patterns are part of the 'discovery' motif at the funky and fun Hotel Marlowe. Around the faux-marble fireplace of the tufted-velvet walled living room, there are complimentary evening wine hours and Wednesday evening poetry readings. Comfortable crimson and gold guest rooms are accented with velvet, leopard-print carpets, furry blankets and amenities that include modern electronic comfort, Aveda toiletries and leopard-patterned terrycloth robes. Even four-legged guests are regaled with leopard-print collar tags, treats and other pet services. The inviting American-styled brasserie, Bambara, is adjacent to the hotel.

Chandler Inn

This snug South End inn offers a lot of class for a relatively low cost compared with Downtown hotels. Rooms may be a touch small but they sport a designer touch with moulded Panton chairs, leather headboards and bright accents. Plasma TVs and iPod docks come as standard while downstairs you’ll find the popular neighbourhood drinking den, Fritz.

The Liberty Hotel

Prison chic is made a reality in the Liberty Hotel. For 120 years, the Charles Street Jail held some of Boston's most infamous criminals but in 2001, Liberty designers converted the building into a classy, unique hotel. Much of the décor mirrors the building's 20th-century charms, including The Clink restaurant which features authentic cell bars and the main lobby that reveals the inner atrium of the original prison. Far from being prison-like, this upscale hotel boasts all the necessary 21st-century amenities along with stunning views of the Charles River and the Boston skyline.

Mandarin Oriental

Located in the cosy Back Bay the Mandarin Oriental combines comfort and style to produce one of Boston's most luxurious and trendy hotels. Rooms resonate with classic oriental styles with a modern flare and boast beautiful views of the Back Bay cityscape. After a long day of touring and shopping enjoy a soak in the oversized Jacuzzi baths or indulge in a massage at the Mandarin Oriental's five-star spa. Perfect for a business retreat or a relaxing holiday the Mandarin Oriental will not disappoint.