We were delighted to head over to the USA for the second time this year and check out all that Boston, Massachusetts had to offer as a city and a destination for one of our client’s upcoming events.
It’s safe to say that we loved every minute of our American adventure and we’re excited to add Boston into the mix as one of our favourite US hotspots.
Destination: Boston, Massachusetts
Airports: London Gatwick to Boston
Flight Duration: 6.5hours out and about 5.5hrs back
Country: United States
Language: English (American)
Currency: US Dollars
Climate: Generally summer months are warm and humid and winter is cold, with mild and cool temperatures in between. During our visit there was a heatwave and an emergency warning issued as the city was roasting at over 35 degrees – hot, hot, hot.
Time to Change it up
Having previously held their annual event in London and Barcelona, our client decided they wanted to hold their next conference somewhere further afield. Boston was short-listed by In2Events and deciding the destination would provide the perfect backdrop to their event, our client was excited to secure the option and explore the city with us. Cue a site inspection and four days of meeting with suppliers and viewing proposed event spaces and venues. The trip also gave us the exciting opportunity to bring our suggested event agenda to life for our client. There’s no better way to demonstrate the potential of a destination than to visit and experience it first-hand.
We set off from London Gatwick and flew over to Boston with Norwegian Air. We flew on a Premium Flex ticket, which provided an absolutely amazing, and dare we say it unexpected, travel experience.
After enjoying our lounge area access and complementary food and drinks, we boarded our flight. We were taken aback by just how spacious and luxurious the cabin and seats were for a ‘budget’ airline. Settling into our seats only cemented our initial thoughts; the leg room was great, and the seats were incredibly comfortable (so important on a long-haul flight).
What’s more the in-flight team were really welcoming and helpful, which in an age of sometimes sub-par onboard hospitality goes such a long way.
In short, the Norwegian Air staff, service and entertainment, combined with the comfort of their seats, was better than we’ve experienced on many premium carriers, which was a really happy revelation.
With our trip off to a ‘flying’ start, we were really looking forward to the trip ahead.
Touchdown in Boston
It’s always thrilling to arrive in a new city and there’s something particularly magical about arriving at night and seeing the city lit up against the night sky. As we pulled up at the Boston Park Plaza, our first impressions were that it was a traditional property, located perfectly to serve as a great base to get out and discover the city from. The elegant lobby area was warm and welcoming and housed a lovely bar -somewhere that you could definitely enjoy a drink (or two).
After checking-in and having some time to orientate ourselves with the hotel, we headed out for our first stateside drink at O’Conners: a cool place with a great feel. We then decided to venture towards Fenway to soak up the atmosphere and experience some other local bars. We also got to enjoy our very first Boston hotdog with chilli sauce (it tasted incredible by the way).
How do you Like Your Eggs in the Morning?
After an early-ish night and a great sleep, everyone was feeling ready to get out and uncover the best of Boston. First stop…breakfast, of course. We couldn’t resist the chance to eat at a traditional street diner and get our fill of eggs and coffee – fuel for the day ahead. It might sound cliché, but we could have genuinely been on a film set, everything was so fantastically American and when some of Boston’s police department came in for their breakfast, we were just waiting for someone to shout, “Action!”.
Boston Venues With Endless Potential
The JFK Center
There are some great venue options in Boston, one of which is the JFK Center, a large and impressive building that looks out onto the Potomac River. Our clients loved the space, which was perfect for their delegate numbers and offered something a little different from other, more conventional, meeting spaces. Getting to hear about the history of the building and its links with President John F. Kennedy was also a really interesting aspect of our show around.
Next stop was the Harpoon Brewery, a potential venue we’d put forward for an informal dinner and drinks evening. The place didn’t disappoint and offers a quirky and relaxed setting for groups. Obviously, whilst we were there, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sample their amazing Kraft ales – it would’ve been rude not to, wouldn’t it?
Rockland Trust Bank Pavillion
On from the brewery, we took a trip down to the harbour and looked around some further venues to cover off all options. We were all particularly won over by the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion, an amphitheatre that can be hired for private evening events; with a prime harbourside location any event held here would have an awesome and unforgettable backdrop.
We couldn’t be so close to the water and not have a seafood inspired lunch. Legal Sea Foods, sits just by the port and serves some of the most delicious lobster we’ve ever tasted. As true event profs, even our mealtimes are centred around venues and this was certainly a very tasty way to introduce our clients to another location that could be utilised for a private function.
After lunch we were looking forward to visiting the Skywalk Observatory; it was time to see things from a completely different perspective and get better acquainted with the city’s quarters and layout. From ground level, Boston is exciting and characterful, but from 700 feet in the air you get a truly exhilarating 360-degree birds eye view, which is brilliant. This was definitely a venue that would raise a drinks reception or networking event to the next level - literally.
Back to School
Not ones to shy away from a full schedule, late afternoon saw us visiting a very iconic establishment: the one and only, Harvard University. We were very excited to get to visit a location where some of the greatest minds have studied, including Mark Zuckerburg and Matt Damon. If it was possible to hold private events at the university, the buildings and grounds that surround the campus would make it a perfect location for high-end gala dinners and, inspired by the setting, we couldn’t help but think that a ‘grown-ups graduation prom’ would be a fun and quirky themed event to hold here too.
Take us out to the Ballgame
It would have been sacrilege to come all the way to the states and not catch a baseball game, so after a quick freshen up back at the hotel, we were back out and making our way to the legendary Fenway Park. Baseball fan or not, this is a must-do experience when visiting Boston; from start to finish the game pulled us in and had us shouting and cheering from the stands – the crowds were just phenomenal. With corporate hospitality packages available here for groups, what better way to round off a productive day of meetings, exploring or just relaxing, than heading to Fenway for the hotdogs, beers and a truly authentic American experience.
Uncovering the True Story of Salem
Day 3 started with breakfast at a hip, very Boston coffee shop, which had a great vibe. We were then ready to hit the road to Salem.
Everyone has their perception of Salem, so this was somewhere we needed to see for ourselves, in order to put any ‘ghosts’ to bed around the stories of witches and darkness that historically surround the town.
On arrival to Salem, we went to visit the House of Seven Gables, a building that is a national historic landmark and has stood for over 350 years. The facts that surround this place are plentiful and rather chilling.
Back in 1692 witch trials were held for those suspected of witchcraft and in Salem 20 people were executed, including Giles Corey who was pressed to death by stones for refusing trial. He was asked repeatedly during the torture for his plea to the allegations set against him, to which he replied, “More weight”. With tales like this, it’s was becoming clear as to why Salem had earned its unnerving reputation.
We also learnt that Halloween in Salem is a month long festival, giving residents and visitors 4 weeks to revel in creepy goings on. Fans of the movie, Hocus Pocus may also like to know that parts of the film were shot at the House of Seven Gables. The trivia kept on coming through the tour and we discovered that one of the town’s celebrity residents is currently Adam Sandler, who is in the area filming a new Halloween film.
In all honesty Salem is a fantastic spot, with a history that goes beyond that of witches and witchcraft. In fact, it’s a town with roots steeped in fishing, shipbuilding and overseas trade and was well-worth the visit.
New England Dining
Lunch was in town at Turners, a family-run restaurant that serves delicious New England dishes such as lobster rolls, clam chowder and scallops. Following a long, relaxed lunch we had some downtime and spent the afternoon at leisure.
That evening, we had a booking at Davios, a traditional steakhouse. The food and ambiance of the restaurant fused to create the best ending to another busy day.
Did Someone say, “Tea Party?”
Our last day started with breakfast at the hotel, followed by taking another trip down to the Seaport to look around some further hotels, including the Boston Harbor Hotel. This large property spectacularly links the waters of Boston Harbour to Boston City through it’s impressive 60 ft stone archway. Here we were told about the eclectic history of the harbour and received an education on the 1773 ‘Boston Tea Party’; a historic event which played a pivotal part in instigating the American revolution.
We couldn’t believe how quickly our trip had gone and we were genuinely sad to leave and embark back to the UK.
The transfer and check-in with Norwegian Air was smooth and because of our outbound flight, we were actually looking forward to chilling out, having some food and watching a film as we winged our way home. Our movie selections were made wisely, however, as the flight back to London was shorter at only 5 hrs 30 minutes.
Our Boston Roundup
Having arrived back in the UK and debriefing on the trip with our client, we can honestly say that it is one of the best cities we’ve visited, and the short flight durations make it a very desirable and easily accessible US destination.
All types of events would work well there: from small, exclusive incentive groups through to large business conferences; the city is geared up and ready to go for whatever might get thrown at it.
With some of the warmest and friendliest people we’ve encountered, unique venues for off-site dinners and drinks and a large selection of boutique and corporate hotels, it is a place on the map worth considering for sure, and we’d highly recommend Boston as a city to visit, explore and enjoy.