Hidden gems of Boston: Part I

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

In hospitality, businesses often pride themselves on the rich experiences they can deliver to their guests. Many of these experiences come from stories, keepsakes, and small touches that make an impact. Oftentimes, these things are prized possessions that aren’t overly advertised. That’s why we call them hidden gems.

A lot of hidden gems around Boston exist in hospitality establishments. Here’s a short list of places with have incredible stories behind them.

Omni Parker House

The Omni Parker House in Boston opened its doors in 1855, and is the longest continuously operating hotel in the country. With a history as rich as Boston’s, the 551-room monolithic establishment has been a home-away-from home to notable characters who helped shape American culture. It was here Charles Dickens read aloud for the first time ever “A Christmas Carol” to a book club; the place where JFK proposed to Jackie Lee; the famous hotel restaurant that employed Malcom X as a busboy, Ho Chi Minh as a baker, and Emeril Lagass as a sous chef; and the originator of the state’s dessert, Boston Cream Pie. And these are only a few charms of the hotel’s rich history!

Brattle Book Shop

[Best Boston Bookstore]
The old soul of this Boston bookstore has knowledgeable staff and rich history.

This long-standing establishment operates as a historical treasure in Boston--and the knowledgeable staff welcome guests from all walks of life to explore the hidden gems on its shelves. A family business since 1945, this book shop has an open-air display during the fair weather months, but boasts notable works kept safely inside such as a first edition of The Great Gatsby with a note within its pages penned by author F. Scott Fitzgerald; a second edition of The Scarlet Letter written by witch-hunt era author Nathaniel Hawthorne; and many others that come in as rotating pieces of bought-and-sold history.

Caffé Vittoria

Caffé Vittoria was the first Italian café ever to open in Boston. Seated in the charming historic North End, the cozy eatery has the only surviving smoking lounge in the city of Boston in its basement, and apparently serves up some of the best cappuccino in the country. This is one spot that serves up authenticity and hospitality since 1929. Though the building itself is a hidden gem, it boasts vintage coffee makers and even has one showstopper in the front window of the café--one of two coffee makers that exist in the world.

Charles Street Jail

The Suffolk County Jail built in 1851 isn’t exactly what you’d consider an institution of hospitality. Until today. The structure still stands, but now as the Liberty Hotel--retaining most of the original details and format from its days as jail. Massachusetts General Hospital purchased the property and reconfigured it to be an upscale destination hotel, which garners much praise and respect from residents and tourists alike. Some famous inmates include Malcom X, John J. Divivo, James Michael Curley, and Elmer “Trigger” Burke.

Hard Rock Cafe Boston

The multi-national restaurant chain that houses rock and roll memorabilia has an establishment outfitted on the edge of Boston’s North End. The Hard Rock Cafe in Boston boasts prize possessions once owned by great rock legends of our time: outfits and guitars from Aerosmith band members, Van Halen’s electric guitar, and even handwritten lyrics by Bruce Springstein. It’s the service and ambiance that truly makes the cafe a trove for hidden rock treasures. The hospitable hardworking staff is not to be overlooked either.


Do you want to work in a hospitality job in Boston that houses some of the city’s hidden gems? If so, get your talent profile set up on Grit and start looking for jobs.