Right on the Freedom Trail and a quick walk from Boston Common, the Omni Parker House Hotel is in a prime location for sightseeing. Find out everything you need to know about this historic hotel before your next visit to Boston.
Mr. SBC and I recently stayed for two nights at The Omni Parker House while we attended the annual Travel & Adventure Show at the Hynes Convention Center (BTW, I highly recommend this two-day exhibition for anyone who loves to travel).
Although it’s not the closest hotel to the convention center, we really wanted to stay at the Parker House again! We love the charm of historic hotels, and it’s one of our favorites.
The hotel is a great place to stay for the night if you’re taking a cruise from Boston. It’s not very far by taxi to the cruise port, and it’s so close to some of the best things to do in Boston—even if you don’t have much time to spend in the city.
Read my honest review of the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston to decide if it’s the right choice for your stay in the city.
A brief history of the Omni Parker House Hotel
This historic Boston landmark, originally called the Parker House Hotel, is the oldest continually-operating hotel in the United States.
Originally built in 1855 by Harvey D. Parker on School Street near the corner of Tremont Street, the current hotel was rebuilt on the same spot in 1927. The Parker House joined the Omni chain of hotels in 1983.
The Parker House was home to the Saturday Club, whose members included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
The hotel has hosted many notable figures including Charles Dickens, who lived there for five months in 1867–1868. Dickens first recited and performed “A Christmas Carol” for the Saturday Club at the Parker House.
John Wilkes Booth stayed at the hotel in April 1865, just eight days before assassinating Abraham Lincoln. While in Boston, Booth practiced shooting at a firing range near the Parker House.
Ho Chi Minh worked as a baker at the hotel from 1912 to 1913. Malcolm X (then known as Malcolm Little), worked at the Parker House Hotel as a busboy in the 1940s. Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse was the restaurant’s sous-chef from 1979 to 1981.
The hotel’s restaurant created the Boston cream pie (now Massachusetts’ state dessert), invented the Parker House roll, and coined the word “scrod,” a term for the freshest white fish of the day.
You may also like: Iconic Boston Food You Need to Try
Guest rooms at the Omni Parker House
The Parker House offers several room categories, from the 90 sq. ft (8.36 sq. m) Economy Petite Single with one twin bed, to the luxe Harvey Parker Suite with an oversized bedroom, a dining room that seats eight, and a large bathroom with a jetted tub.
On our most recent stay, we were able to experience both a Traditional Room as well as a Deluxe Room. For visitors to Boston who want a little more space without spending too much money, I’d recommend upgrading to the Deluxe Room, especially if you’re staying for longer than one night.
Traditional Rooms at the Parker House
We had booked a Traditional Room, but soon after checking in I realized that our door handle and lock needed to be repaired. Since it was a major security issue (it was impossible to tell if the door was actually locked when we were inside the room), the front desk staff eventually upgraded us to a Deluxe Room.
We would have been fine in a different Traditional Room (that’s the room type we usually book) but experiencing the upgraded accommodations really highlighted the differences.
The 125 sq. ft. (11.6 sq. m) Traditional Rooms at the Parker House Hotel include one full size bed, a desk, and an upholstered chair.
Our room had a teeny closet—it was so shallow that clothes need to be hung facing out on two small bars. The ironing board and safe are also housed in this tiny space, so it’s not ideal if you plan to hang several days’ worth of outfits for two people.
The bathroom was also very small, with a pedestal sink. I love the vintage look of pedestal sinks, but they don’t offer much room to get ready in the morning, or to organize your toiletries.
Deluxe Rooms at the Parker House
Once we moved to a 210-square-foot (19.5 sq. m) Deluxe Room, it felt far more spacious. We had a king size bed, but other rooms in this category also offer one queen or two full beds.
The biggest difference was the enormous walk-in closet. We went from having one of the smallest closets I’ve ever seen in a hotel room to one of the largest!
I loved having plenty of room for our clothes, as well as the ability to fit all of our luggage inside, making our room feel even more spacious.
The next time we stay at the Parker House for more than one night, I’m definitely paying the slightly higher room rate for a Deluxe Room. But for a quick overnight stay, the Traditional Room is just fine.
Other room types at the Omni Parker House
We haven’t stayed in any of the other room types at the hotel, but there are several:
- Economy Petite Single Room: One twin bed, 90 sq. ft. (8.36 sq. m) Max occupancy is one guest.
- Executive Room: One king bed or two full beds plus a queen sleeper sofa, 400 sq. ft. (37.16 sq. m)
- Premier Suite: One king bed or two full beds, separate formal living room with sleeper sofa, 520 sq. ft. (48.3 sq. m)
- Freedom Trail Family Suite: One bedroom plus a children’s sleeping nook with bunk beds, living room with Freedom Trail mural, children’s colonial-style costumes for play, and a video game console upon request. 620 sq. ft. (57.6 sq. m)
- Harvey Parker Suite: Oversized bedroom with private entrance, living room with sleeper sofa, large bathroom with jetted tub plus a half-bath, dining room that seats eight, butler’s pantry with microwave and refrigerator. 1,000 sq. ft. (92.9 sq. m)
- Accessible Rooms: ADA rooms with roll-in shower, hand-held showerhead and grab bar, or standard tub with grab bars. Grab bars are also installed near the standard toilet. Accessible rooms feature enlarged door openings and visual notification for the hotel alarm system and phone.
Should the Omni Parker House really be a four-star hotel?
Most ranking sites consider the Parker House a four-star hotel. You’ll notice its elegant (but old-fashioned) lobby, with uniformed bellhops and doormen.
The restaurants and bars on site are upscale venues, with elegant surroundings and prices to match (a simple melon and berry plate on the Parker’s Restaurant breakfast menu is $14, for example).
However, as an almost century-old property, once you leave the public spaces and venture down the corridors and into the rooms, you’ll notice a difference between this hotel and newer four-star luxury hotels, even within the Omni brand.
Older hotels (especially in larger cities) tend to have narrow, winding hallways and smaller guest rooms. It’s just the nature of old hotels! Without a full-scale renovation—removing much of the hotel’s historic charm—the Parker House isn’t going to have the same luxe feel as other four-star properties.
Customer service at the Omni Parker House
During our stays at the Parker House over the years, I’ve noticed that the level of customer service is fairly high, but not as consistent as many other four-star hotels I’ve stayed in.
This most recent stay was no different.
We had a pleasant exchange with a front desk employee when we dropped our bags off in the morning, and again at check-in. The hotel’s doormen and bellhops were also consistently friendly and polite.
However, I mentioned earlier that the door handle and lock for our original room were broken, and we eventually changed rooms.
Right after we checked in, Mr. SBC decided to go downstairs to the bar and enjoy a cocktail while I took pictures and videos of our room before we unpacked.
I had grabbed my room key and stepped into the hallway to film a room tour video, but my keycard didn’t seem to work when I tried to get back in the room.
The front desk clerk wouldn’t give me a new key without my ID (which was locked in the room) although she had just checked us in no more than five minutes prior. Security, I get it.
But she told me she’d send a member of the security staff up to the room, and just to wait for him by the door. I could then go in and get my ID and return to the front desk so she could make me a new keycard.
Ten minutes later, a gruff security guard appeared and demanded my ID before he’d let me into the room!
I explained the situation, and he eventually determined that my keycard was fine—but the door handle needed to be yanked with quite a bit of force up and to the right before turning it to get the door open.
He said he could maybe send someone up to fix it, but it didn’t sound like it was a top priority for him. Plus I had all my camera equipment and some expensive electronics in the room, and I didn’t want to sit there watching all of it until someone eventually got around to fixing the handle.
Later in the evening, we returned to the room and discovered that the door wouldn’t lock unless we did the door handle yanking and jiggling procedure from the outside, meaning that we couldn’t lock the door when we were both inside.
Explaining this to the front desk, they agreed to let us change rooms and kindly offered us an upgrade. However, I would have expected (and appreciated) a simple “Let’s see if we can get you another room” when security determined that our door handle was broken.
Amenities at the Omni Parker House
The Parker House offers several amenities in each room, regardless of room type, including:
- Plush robes
- Triple-sheeting on bed with duvet
- Extra blankets and pillows
- Hair dryer
- In-room safes sized for laptops
- Iron and ironing board
- WiFi Internet service
- Individual climate control
- Dual-line telephone with data port
- Flat screen HDTV with cable channels
- LodgeNet system featuring on-demand hit movies
- MP3 adaptable clocks
The Omni Parker House Hotel doesn’t have a pool or spa on-site.
Parking at the Omni Parker House
The hotel offers overnight valet parking with in-and-out privileges for $57 per vehicle per night. There isn’t a self-parking garage on the property, but there are several private garages within a short walk from the hotel.
Bars and restaurants on-site
The Omni Parker House features its iconic restaurant Parker’s, along with two bars and a coffee shop.
During our most recent stay, we didn’t have the chance to enjoy the restaurant—it was only open for breakfast and brunch due to the pandemic, and the prices for the breakfast menu were a bit too steep for us (a simple breakfast of two eggs, potatoes, bacon or sausage and toast was $22).
They do have their famous Boston Cream Pie on the breakfast menu, so even while the restaurant is closed for dinner you can still snag a slice for $10.
Of the two bars on the property, only The Last Hurrah was open during our two-night stay (Parker’s Bar is temporarily closed).
After dealing with my broken door handle situation, I was able to join Mr. SBC downstairs to enjoy a cocktail. This lively spot is decorated with hundreds of black-and-white photos of Boston’s most famous former residents.
History buffs will want to ask for a copy of the “Curley Herald” (named after former Boston Mayor James Michael Curley) to find out some fun facts about both the hotel’s history as well as the inspiration for some of the bar’s signature drinks.
Also at the hotel is the new School Street Coffeehouse, serving Starbucks coffee along with hot and cold packaged foods to go.
Wellness at the hotel
The Omni Parker House has an on-site fitness center, located on the lower lobby level (not all elevators can access LL, so get off at the lobby and try a different elevator if the LL button isn’t there).
In the keycard-accessed fitness center, guests are provided with fresh towels, along with complimentary water and fruit. Equipment includes:
- Bench press
- Full Cybex line of equipment
- Free weights
- Leg press
- Peloton Bikes
- Rowing Machines
- Stationary bicycles
Prefer to work out in your room? The front desk has “Get Fit Kits” to borrow, with hand weights, an exercise mat, and resistance bands.
What is there to do near the Omni Parker House Hotel?
If you’re staying at the Parker House, there are lots of things to do within a 20-minute walk from the hotel. Here are some examples of my faves:
- King’s Chapel and Burying Ground (<1 min walk)
- Boston Common (3 min walk)
- Granary Burying Ground (3 min walk)
- Old State House (4 min walk)
- Downtown Crossing (5 min walk)
- Faneuil Hall / Quincy Market (9 min walk)
- Boston Public Garden (10 min walk)
- New England Aquarium (13 min walk)
- Shopping on Newbury Street (16 min walk)
- Dim Sum in Chinatown (16 min walk)
Boston tours I recommend when staying at the hotel
The Parker House Hotel’s location is perfect for anyone who wants to experience a guided tour of the city. Each of these highly-rated tours has a starting point within a ten-minute walk from the hotel.
- Freedom Trail: Small-Group Tour of Revolutionary Boston (2.5 Hours)
- The Revolutionary Story Walking Tour in Boston (3.75 Hours)
- Boston Small-Group Freedom Trail History Tour & Pub Crawl (2.25 Hours)
- Ghosts of Boston Tour (1.5 Hours)
Tip: If you have a full day or more to explore Boston, the Go Boston Pass is a great way to save lots of money compared to buying separate attraction tickets. They even include tickets for the HOHO trolley so you won’t need to pay extra for transportation around the city!
Getting to and from the Parker House Hotel
The hotel’s location at the corner of School Street and Tremont Street makes it easy to get to, whether you’re arriving by car, rideshare, or using public transportation.
It’s usually about a ten-minute drive from Logan Airport, and about 13 minutes from the cruise port (though Boston’s notorious traffic can add to those estimates during busy times).
If you’re taking the T (Boston’s subway system) to the hotel, the Government Center stop on the Green or Blue Line is a short walk to the Parker House. (If you’re on the Red Line, just get off at Park Street instead of changing trains—the hotel is still within walking distance, even with luggage.)
Is the Omni Parker House Hotel really haunted?
Most old hotels come with tales of a haunting or two, and the Parker House has quite a few ghost legends of its own. Many consider it the most haunted hotel in Boston!
Legend says that Harvey Parker, the hotel’s founder, never left. Guests have reported seeing him in the hallways, checking on guest rooms.
The 10th floor of the hotel’s annex is famously haunted
One hotel guest staying in room 1012 woke to find a man standing at the end of her bed. The man asked if she was enjoying her stay, and then vanished. When she later described her spooky visitor, the apparition fit the description of Mr. Parker’s portrait.
But room 1012 isn’t the only haunted guest room—the entire tenth floor in the annex is notorious for ghostly goings-on. Not only have guests seen orbs and mysterious lights in the corridor, but disembodied voices and laughter have been known to come from empty rooms.
Many have even reported hearing the sound of a rocking chair, despite the fact that the hotel no longer has any in the building.
Does Mark Twain still haunt the Parker House Hotel?
A mirror that Mark Twain used to practice speeches now hangs in the hotel’s mezzanine, and some say his face appears in the glass!
I didn’t learn about this legend until after our stay. However, the only place where I felt a creepy feeling in the hotel was in the mezzanine. Thankfully, I didn’t see anyone’s face in the mirror but my own!
The Parker House’s third floor ghosts
The hotel’s third floor is also a hotbed of ghostly activity. Actress Charlotte Cushman died of pneumonia in her room on the third floor in 1876. Ever since her death, guests report unexplained sounds on the floor, and elevator #1 sometimes stops there—although no one called it.
Room 303 is perhaps the most haunted location on the third floor. A liquor salesman who died in the room in the late 1940s reportedly had a long-term stay there, where he often sat drinking whiskey and smoking cigars.
Even many years later, so many guests complained of hearing a man’s laughter in the room—along with the smell of whiskey and cigar smoke—that the hotel converted the room into storage space.
Omni Parker House Hotel FAQ
Omni Parker House is located in downtown Boston, at the foot of Beacon Hill. The hotel’s address is 60 School Street, Boston MA 02108.
Check in time at the Omni Parker House is 4 PM.
Check out time at the Omni Parker House is 11 AM.
The hotel does offer room service from 6:30 AM to 11 PM daily. Guests can order by dialing 39 from the in-room phone. Find the room service menu here.
The hotel charges a $20 daily service or resort fee. This fee covers WiFi, access to the computers in the business center, bottled water, notary services, rollaway beds, and local phone calls.
The closest MBTA (subway) stop to Omni Parker House is Government Center. The hotel is also walkable from Park Street Station.
The Omni Parker House Hotel does not have a pool.
The Parker House is a pet-friendly hotel, for up to two small (under 25 lb) dogs or cats per room. A non-refundable cleaning fee of $125 will be charged per stay per room. Other rules and restrictions apply, so check with the hotel for details.
Have you stayed at the Omni Parker House Hotel? Or are you considering it for an upcoming trip to Boston? Let me know in the comments below!
More resources for your trip to Boston
- Your Guide to Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston
- How to Get to Boston’s Cruise Port
- 30+ Fun Facts About Boston (by a Boston Native)
- Iconic Boston Food You Need to Try
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