The hulking 294-room Charles, on the eastern edge of Harvard Square, is the best reason to stay north of the river. A low-key New England aesthetic prevails, with Shaker-inspired furniture, wainscoting, and geometric bed quilts, but there’s plenty of luxury too (like Origins products and Séura “in mirror” TV screens in the bathrooms). The common areas are truly uncommon, including the decadent Le Pli spa, a huge borrow-at-will library, and two excellent in-house restaurants: Rialto for Tuscan-inspired Italian fare, and Henrietta’s Table for over-the-top Sunday brunch.
Tip: Bring the kids in winter, when the hotel sets up its 2,900-square-foot outdoor ice-skating rink.
Room to Book: Glamour pusses should spring for one of the eight Boston Suites; the bathrooms, with double basins, separate showers and tubs, and huge mirrors, have plenty of room for preening.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.