From the Top of My "Must Stay at List" - A Visit to Boston's Beautiful Omni Parker House, America's Oldest Continuously Operating Hotel

Once upon a time (translated: so long ago that I can't remember exactly when it was!) I took a trip to Boston with my cousin so that we could walk The Freedom Trail – a collection of sixteen locations and buildings in the downtown Boston area that highlight the history and beginnings of our American Revolution. Though there are various and assorted guided tours that are available for visitors wishing to explore the Freedom Trail, when my cousin and I went to Boston we decided to walk the Trail on our own and visit history at our own leisurely pace.

As we made our way along the 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that leads visitors through Boston’s history and role in the Revolution, there were several guided tours also visiting the various sites along the Trail. As my cousin and I stopped to take pictures outside of Boston's Old City Hall, I overheard a costumed Freedom Trail guide telling the group he was leading about the building across the street. As he told them of the historic building that housed the oldest continuously operating hotel in America my ears perked up and when I heard him say that it was also the birthplace of Boston Cream Pie it was at that very moment that I first knew that someday I was going to stay at the Omni Parker House.

That “someday” finally happened when I recently drove up to Boston to at long last spend the night at the hotel that had attracted my attention and interest all those years ago. While we're on the topic of years ago, the Omni Parker House didn’t get to be America’s longest continuously running hotel without a bit of history and elegant as well the birthplace of Boston Cream Pie it may be, it was mainly the history that made me want to spend a night there. So, allow me to tell you a bit about the house that Harvey Parker built because what’s a cool hotel without a story? Why it's just a nice place to stay with no personality!

A plaque depicting the founding of Boston in 1630 located in Boston Common.Long ago, back in the earliest days before Boston was called Boston but instead named Trimount after three prominent hills that were on the peninsula, John Winthrop and the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay first settled the land.  In 1630, the area where the Parker House stands was close to where the town’s first church, fresh water spring, stock and pillory were located.

By 1645 the area was also home to Boston Latin – a college preparatory school that the British colonists established following the founding of Harvard College in Cambridge during the years 1635-36. America’s first public school, Boston Latin – located on what came to be known as School Street on a spot nearby the area where the hotel was built – educated such famous Bostonians as Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Ralph Waldo Emerson while it’s most famous drop-out was none other than Benjamin Franklin – a Boston boy who eventually made it big in Philadelphia.

Boston Latin shared the street with an assortment of gardens, orchards, barns, churches, small shops, wooden homes and taverns which made it a favorite drinking spot for customers like young Lieutenant George Washington who was known to stop in while in Boston on military and surveying jobs. Eventually Tremont Street, the dirt road leading to Boston Common (America’s oldest public park), which ran through the area was paved with cobblestones and the old buildings were replaced with more elaborate buildings like the mansion built in 1704 by wealthy Boston merchant John Mico. When Mico passed away in 1718, the three-story brick home was passed on to his friend Jacob Wendell (grandfather of physician and writer Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.) before it was passed on to Nicholas Boylston – cousin of statesman John Adams. By the early 1800s the formerly grand home was an eyesore and transitioned from a well-maintained private residence to a boarding house named the Boylston Hotel in 1829.

Now … back up just a few years to 1825 and enter in Harvey D. Parker, a twenty-year old farm boy from Maine who arrived in Boston via schooner with less than a dollar to his name and in definite need of a job. As his first job, Harvey managed to find employment as a caretaker for a horse and cow and made eight dollars a month before securing a subsequent job as a coachman for a wealthy woman from Watertown. With bigger plans than spending his life as a professional livery man, by 1832 Harvey had saved up enough to buy a dark cellar café on Court Square from John Hunt for $432. Renaming it Parker’s Restaurant and serving up excellent food and service, the café was soon attracting a regular clientele of lawyers, newspapermen, and businessmen who kept coming back and most likely brought their friends. Business boomed and in 1847 Harvey took on a partner, John F. Mills. By 1854 Harvey was ready to launch his plan to build a new, first-class hotel and restaurant on School Street near the base of Beacon Hill just down the road from the Massachusetts State House where the Boylston Hotel stood.

In spite of the competition directly across the street in the form of the popular and modern Tremont House, the previously penniless Parker purchased the former Mico Mansion on April 22nd, 1854 and razed the structure before building in its place an ornate, five-story Italianate-style stone and brick hotel that was faced in gleaming white marble which opened on October 8th, 1855. More white marble formed the steps that led from the sidewalk to the marble foyer within while gracefully arched windows were featured on the first and second floors. Passing through the front door over which an engraved sign simply read “PARKER’S”, visitors were treated to thick carpets and horse-hair divans that exuded an air of sumptuous elegance.

Image Credit: The Bostonian Society
In an October 1855 review that appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript following an inspection of the building by the public, an enamored reporter stated that “All were surprised and delighted at the convenient arrangement of the whole establishment - the gorgeous furniture of the parlors, the extent and beauty of the dining hall, the number and different styles of the lodging rooms – and, in fact, the richness, lavish expenditure and excellent taste which abounded in every department. The house was universally judged to be a model one.”

Just five short years later in 1860, Harvey Parker built a six-story addition to his successful hotel and in 1863 another wing was added. Expansion continued when Parker was able to purchase a narrow lot on Tremont Street in 1866 which adjoined his rear buildings and added another two floors to the School Street annex. Eventually he expanded his original structure to over 41,400 square feet of land.

Because of its location between the Boston Athenaeum, incorporated in 1807 as a private reading room, library, and art museum which by 1851 was one of the five largest libraries in America, and the Old Corner Bookstore where William D. Ticknor and James T. Fields revolutionized the world of American book publishing and established a Mecca for the literary world where renowned authors of the time could be seen visiting and socializing with one another, the Parker House became home to the Saturday Club, a gathering of friends who got together for dinner on the last Saturday of each month.  The illustrious group was made up of writers, historians, scientists, philosophers and others; attendees included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, as well as scientist Louis Agassiz and diplomat Charles Francis Adams.

Saturday Club Information

When he was residing at the Parker House during his 1867-68 American lecture tour, English literary superstar Charles Dickens also joined the Saturday Club where the afternoons were often passed with poetry readings, book critiques, and impassioned discussions along with camaraderie, gossip, revelry, and seven-course meals that were washed down with an endless supply of alcohol which included a potent gin punch that was made with a stash of fine gin that Dickens possessed. Dickens was a favorite of both Boston and the Parker House and the Parker House in turn was a big favorite of his.

The mirror that Charles Dickens used to practice in front of while living at the Parker House from 1867 to 1868.

While living at the Parker House, Dickens would often practice for his public readings in front of this large mirror which was originally located in his suite of rooms but is now on display in the mezzanine-level hallway.  Some say that they can still occasionally catch a glimpse of the animated Dickens in the mirror's reflection.

In addition to the literary elite and other brilliant Bostonian minds, the Parker House became a popular spot for politicians when Boston’s City Hall opened in 1865 directly across the street just ten years after Harvey Parker first opened the doors of his marble palace. With the Parker House located almost directly between the Massachusetts State House and Boston City Hall, it became the place where local and state politicians went to drink and dine for almost a century. It’s been said that every U.S. President from Ulysses S. Grant through William Jefferson Clinton passed through the Parker House’s doors to dine in its restaurants or lobby in the Press Room or hoist a drink in one of the bars or even spend the night in one of the hotel's luxurious suites.

Politicians and literary greats weren’t the only ones who frequented the Parker House though as the hotel was in the same neighborhood as the popular Tremont Theatre and in close proximity to Boston’s other significant stages of the nineteenth century. That proximity drew guests that included such entertainers as Sarah Bernhardt, Charlotte Cushman, Edwin Booth, and his notorious younger brother John Wilkes Booth who was registered at the hotel and seen eating in Parker’s Restaurant on April 5th and 6th, just a week before his fateful assassination of President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC on April 14th, 1865.

Portrait of Harvey Parker in Parker's Restaurant at the Omni Parker HouseAt the age of seventy-nine, Harvey Parker, the boy who arrived in Boston with just $1 to his name, died with a net worth of $1,272,546.94 as he drew his last breath on May 31st 1884. As his two sons had predeceased him along with his original partner, John F. Mills, there was no heir-apparent to take over the Parker House and because of that his will leased the Parker House to his last partners, Edward Punchard and Joseph Beckman. Soon after Parker’s death, Punchard and Beckman continued Harvey’s tradition of expansion and added a new wing along with an eight-story annex as well as making the hotel’s exterior even more elaborate.

Joseph Reed WhippleIn the 1890s the Parker House was taken over by Joseph Reed Whipple, a grocer from Roxbury who had worked under the supervision of Harvey’s first partner John F. Mills. Whipple died in 1912 and in 1925 the J.R. Whipple Corporation bought the hotel from the Trustees of the Parker House estate. Shortly afterward, to the horror of many, the Corporation demolished Harvey Parker’s marble palace and in its place built the “new” Parker House which opened on May 12th, 1927.

Built fourteen stories high and sporting polished Quincy granite on the exterior, the public areas featured oak paneling, plastered ceilings of artistic design, crystal chandeliers, bronze-detailed doors, and eight hundred guest rooms. During the construction of the new building, one wing of the hotel remained open which allowed the Parker House to maintain its designation as America’s “longest continuously operating hotel”. The 1927 Parker House is essentially the one that guests see today.

Vintage postcards of the Omni Parker House

In 1933 the Parker House once again changed management before it was acquired in 1969 by the Dunfey family of New England who owned almost another dozen hotels. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Irish international airline Aer Lingus, when Dunfey Hotels purchased Omni International Hotels, Ltd. in 1986, the Parker House was designated as the “flagship” of their 40+ upscale hotels. In 1996 TRT Holdings, Inc. of Dallas - a privately held, international luxury hotel company owned by Robert B. Rowling - acquired Omni Hotels/North America and at that time the Parker House received a handsome budget for new facilities and restoration which included restructuring the hotel’s 800 rooms into 530 larger guestrooms and 21 deluxe suites to better accommodate guests’ needs.

In 2008, the Omni Parker House, a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America program, underwent a restoration that blended the hotel’s historic charm with today’s modern amenities and comforts including a 1,200-square foot 24-hour world class gym; vibrant new carpet, furnishings and cherry-wood walls throughout Parker’s Restaurant; 24-hour guest room dining; complimentary WiFi in all public areas; the addition of new artwork which features historic maps and photos from old postcards; and a professional concierge staff along with numerous other updates that preserved the timeless beauty of the Parker House. Upon completion of the $30-million restoration and renovation, John Murtha, general manager of the hotel, stated that “The Omni Parker House has exceptionally deep roots in Boston as an iconic historic property. The changes to the hotel are a continuation of the brand’s commitment to this city and the company’s dedication to offering an exceptional guest experience.”

The School Street Entrance

Believe it or not, all of the above doesn't even come close to telling you the story of Boston's Omni Parker House but it's a pretty good start!  Their guest registers read like a "Who's Who" with names of guests including Alexander Graham Bell, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vincent Price, and the Grateful Dead while other people who went on to become famous were once employed at the Parker House - people like Ho Chi Minh, the future Prime Minister and President of the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam, who worked as a pastry chef and cook's helper; black activist Malcolm Little aka Malcolm X who was a busboy during the time of the Pearl Harbor invasion; mezzo-soprano opera star Denyce Graves was employed as a night-shift operator while a student at the New England Conservatory of Music; and celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse sharpened his culinary skills in the kitchens of the Parker House before going on to "kick it up a notch" as a restaurateur, television personality, and cookbook author.

Vintage Parker House Menus

Speaking of the Parker House's restaurants, Harvey Parker was the innovator of the "European Plan" which separated the charges for food and lodging which were previously lumped together for a single fee by American inns and hotels. Breaking away from the "American Plan" gave Parker's the freedom to offer à la carte selections to guests at any time of the day or evening as the rigidity of dining schedules and mass-produced ordinary meals were replaced by Parker's dining flexibility and a wider selection of dishes. That wider selection included such creations as lemon meringue pie and Parker House Rolls whose recipe was a closely guarded secret until 1933 when Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt requested that the recipe be forwarded to them in Washington.  You, too, can now have it just by clicking on the link above!

Boston Cream Pie which originated at the Parker House and which is delicious!Another culinary delight that I mentioned at the beginning of this post included the birth of the pie that's really a cake. Boston Cream Pie was developed by Chef Sanzian, a gourmet French chef that Harvey Parker hired when his hotel first opened at the astonishing salary of $5,000 a year at a time when most good Boston cooks were making about $416 a year. Putting a twist on "Pudding-cake pie", a dessert which New Englanders had enjoyed at home for years, after Chef Sanzian's staff drizzled chocolate icing onto a vanilla custard-filled sponge cake both culinary history and Boston Cream Pie were born!

The Omni Parker House's Boston Cream PieThe original recipe was so popular that it became a Betty Crocker boxed mix in 1958 and on December 12th, 1996 the Boston Cream Pie was proclaimed the official dessert of the State of Massachusetts beating out other delicious contenders like Toll House Cookies, Fig Newtons, and Indian Pudding in the process! For those who may wish to try their hand at baking their own bit of Parker House deliciousness, you can find the official recipe here which makes a 10-inch cake as opposed to the smaller individual-sized servings that guests can enjoy at the Omni Parker House in one of their restaurants, ordered as Room Service for in-room enjoyment, or - if you're lucky - both!

The Tremont Street Entrance to Boston's Omni Parker House with King's Chapel in the background.

So ... now that I've filled you in on the history of the Omni Parker House, how about I show you around inside a bit? Before I do though, just a little bit about the picture above which shows the hotel's entrance on Tremont Street.  If you look to the left you can see King's Chapel which was founded by Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros in 1686 as the first Anglican Church in New England during the reign of King James II. Originally made of wood, the current stone structure was built in 1754 and still hosts an active independent Christian unitarian congregation.  If you look to right at the person in blue walking past the big picture of a Boston Cream Pie, you'll see at her feet what looks to be a sewer cover but it's not.

American Revolution Street Marker in Boston

It's a scenic marker which was placed there in 1960 by the Boston Redevelopment Authority that points out a view to the North Church steeple where Paul Revere saw the two lanterns glowing on the night of April 18th, 1775 that started him on his famous ride. Of course do you think I was smart enough to turn around and take in that view when my daughter pointed the marker out to me as we made our way to Boston Common later that evening? Nope, not I! Not to worry, though, I'll be sure to do so on a future trip to Boston - promise!

Okay, so ... let's go inside already, shall we? Once you walk through the revolving door of the Tremont Street entrance, this is what awaits you starting with a warm and inviting public seating area reminiscent of days gone by but equipped with free WiFi access for modern travelers!

Lobby at the Omni Parker House in Boston
The Last Hurrah Tavern

Above, The Last Hurrah - the Omni Parker House's prizing-winning pub and below, a showcase full of Parker House artifacts including a proclamation by Boston Mayor John Menino declaring January 23rd, 2009 as "Boston Cream Pie Day"

Boston Cream Pie Day ProclamationParker House Artifacts and Memorabilia
Front Desk Reception Area at Omni Parker House

Continuing into the lobby, the Reception Desk and Concierge is to your right while to the left is a comfortable seating area adorned with a painting of the Parker House from days gone by.

Lobby seating area

Above guests' heads are warmly glowing crystal chandeliers and artistically carved ceilings that are very impressive and true works of art. As the hotel's website says, "The décor and hues are as rich as the stories that flow through this legendary place" and they aren't kidding!  Click here to get a closer look at the ceiling carvings. 

Decorative Ceiling and Chandelier in the lobby of the Omni Parker House
A view of the Omni Parker House lobby
Entry area for Parker's Restaurant

The entrance to Parker's Restaurant is just off of the lobby by the bank of elevators just to the left of a small flight of stairs near the School Street entrance. If you go up the stairs to the right of the entrance, guests can enter Parker's Bar, the former mezzanine-level lobby lounge and reading library.

School Street entrance and stairs to Parker's Bar

Above the School Street entrance hangs the Parker Family Crest/Coat of Arms with the words "Fideli Certa Merces" which means "To the faithful there is certain reward." I'd like to tell you more about the various symbols and such on the crest but I'm afraid I really don't know ! Still, it's the first hotel I've been in that's had a Coat of Arms hanging anywhere so I think it's pretty cool!

Parker Family Coat of Arms above the School Street entrance.

A major feature of the lobby - along with those stunning ceilings! - is the bank of four elevators whose elaborate doors are made of gleaming bronze.  

Decorative Ceilings and Elevator Bank at the Omni Parker House

What makes the elevators even more interesting though is that one of them is rumored to be haunted!

Elevator Bank at the Omni Parker House in Boston

Over the years it's been said that the Number One elevator was periodically called to the third floor where the chime rang, the car stopped, the doors would open, and no one was ever there. According to "The Omni Parker House: A Brief History of America's Longest Continuously Operating Hotel" written by Susan Wilson, this allegedly happened hundreds of times and was even checked on dozens of occasions with negative results.

Some have suspected that it was the ghost of Charles Dickens who lived on the third floor of the old Parker House during his American tour in 1867-68 while others have speculated that it may have been the ghost of Charlotte Cushman, an actress from the North End of Boston who was considered to be the first of America's great ladies of the stage.  In the 1870s, Miss Cushman lived in the Dickens suite for a period of time following her retirement from the stage and died there of pneumonia on February 18th, 1876 at the age of 59.

Elevator Number One isn't the only place where mysteries abound at the Omni Parker House though. There was the inexplicable smell of whiskey in Room #303 where a gentleman guest died in 1949. Now a storage room, it was the inspiration for Stephen King's short story 1408 and its movie adaptation starring my favorite actor, John Cusack. Additionally, the ghost of Harvey Parker himself reportedly roamed the halls of the tenth floor annex checking to make sure that his guests were still being well-taken care of. No sightings of the older heavy-set gentleman with the dark mustache have been reported for over thirty years now but that didn't stop me from going up to the tenth floor and walking around a bit though I have to admit to not catching anything but the view from a tenth floor window!  Not that I know what I would have done if I had run into the ghost of Harvey Parker, mind you, but it was certainly worth a shot!

View from a window on the 10th Floor

Heading back down to the mezzanine-level of the hotel, that's where guests can find the mirror that Dickens used to practice in front of which used to be in his suite of rooms, a portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne - one of the prominent members of the Saturday Club, the Press Room, and other meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 250 guests.

Directional signs on the Mezzanine Level at the Omni Parker House
Chairs set up in the Press Room at the Omni Parker House
Fireplace in the Press RoomPortrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne on the Mezzanine Level at the Omni Parker House
The Mezzanine-Level Hallway

It's also on the mezzanine-level where you'll find the Dickens Room which is now a meeting room but still retains the marble-topped fireplace that adorned the room when the famous author lived there.  Unfortunately it was locked so I couldn't get a glimpse inside but perhaps if I ever make my way back up there, I could get someone to allow me a quick look around. Nearby the Dickens Room is a hallway that leads to another eight meeting rooms named for such people as Hawthorne, Longfellow, and Holmes with framed collages along the walls showing bits and pieces of the Parker House's history. Some of the collages that I posted above were along that hallway and it's really worth taking the time to walk the hall to see them.

Doorway to the Dickens Room on the Mezzanine LevelMezzanine Level Hallway
Omni Parker House Artifacts

The room where my youngest daughter Jamie and I spent the night was located on the third floor not too far from the hotel's annex wing and it was absolutely everything that I had ever hoped a room at the Omni Parker House would be.  Room #358 is an Executive Room with two doubles beds that is 400 square feet in size furnished in a historic vintage décor with hand-crafted cherry wood furnishings and 19th Century reproduction artwork.  The room even had a dressing area with a vanity and stool which Jamie was quite impressed with!

Executive Room #358 at Boston's Omni Parker House
Room #358 Seating Area
Vanity table and chair in the room's dressing areaWork desk in Room #358
Headboard decorated with a pineapple - a sign of hospitality

Our room had a 32" flat-screen TV and a CD clock with an MP3 port just in case we decided to play some of our own music while the beds were triple-sheeted with luxuriously soft sheets and duvets with lots of fluffy pillows and headboards that were decorated with pineapples - a symbol of hospitality which the Omni Parker House has in abundance! Other amenities included plush terry robes hanging in the closet, a coffee/tea maker, fully-stocked mini-fridge, a safe in the first of our two closets that was big enough for me to stow my laptop in had I been of a mind to do that, and an in-room Refreshment Center that offered all sorts of goodies including a bear-shaped jar of Gummi Bears that Jamie immediately spotted and just had to have. Even though it was $12 on the price list, the bear somehow managed to make it into our luggage and find its way home with us.  Ah well, if you can't indulge a little bit, why be in a nice hotel to begin with, right?  Besides, it really was kinda cute so how could I say 'no'??

The ice bucket and glasses in our room
Gummi Bears in a Bear JarThe Room's Refreshment CenterComfy Robes in the ClosetStockton Mini-Bar/Fridge
In-room coffee/tea machine

Even though the bathroom wasn't huge it was a comfortable size and more than adequate for our needs with a shower that Jamie declared to be one of the best she had ever used after she had tried it out later that night.  She was especially impressed with the small packages of cotton balls and cotton swabs that were part of the bathroom amenities along with the soaps that didn't dry her skin out at all.  I was impressed by the number of pure-white towels - there were more on the towel bars that aren't pictured - and the cleanliness of the room which gleamed and glowed.  Oh ... and lest I forget, I was also very impressed with the bathroom mirror which didn't fog up at all even after I had taken a very long, very hot shower the next morning!

Bathroom in Room #358Bathroom shelves stocked with amenities and extra fluffy towels.
Bathroom amenities

All in all our room was absolutely beautiful and comfortable and very, very big. One of the things I had often read about the Omni Parker House was that the rooms were rather small which is oftentimes rather typical of historic hotels but that certainly wasn't the case with our room at all. I know that there are smaller rooms within the hotel as they offer an Economy Petite Single Room that includes one twin bed and a desk but if it was decorated anywhere near as nicely as ours was, I get the feeling that size wouldn't really matter in that case - especially if a person is traveling alone and doesn't need a lot of space.

Shortly after we checked in, Jamie and I left the hotel to walk around Boston Common and the Public Gardens a bit before deciding we were practically frozen and it was time to head back to our room! After weighing our dining options we decided to order in Room Service as that's just one of those things I like to do when at a nice hotel if I can fit it into the budget. In this case I could so after perusing our options on the menu, before long we were eating a fine meal that was there before we knew it and quite delicious!

Dinner is served!

Jamie ordered a crock of French Onion Soup and a Grilled Chicken Sandwich on a roll with Swiss cheese, bacon, and a cilantro pesto which came with a mountain of fries while I treated myself to the Pan-Seared Statler Chicken Breast with rainbow carrots, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and the best roast chicken pan jus ever. Had they merely brought me just a bowl of the pan jus and a couple of Parker House Rolls I believe I could have been the happiest woman in the hotel - it was that good! As we were still a bit chilled from our walk, I also ordered a pot of hot chocolate and let me tell you, I think that was the best hot chocolate I have ever had which, after over 50 years of drinking hot chocolate, is really saying something!

After dinner we watched some TV and just enjoyed the comfort of our room before indulging in a treat that had been left for us while we had been out taking our walk.  Kate, my Omni Loyalty Ambassador, had sent up two servings of the Parker House's signature dessert along with some bottled water and a card welcoming me to Boston. It was a deliciously wonderful gesture that Jamie dug into with gusto - as did I but you get no photographic proof of that, you'll just have to take my word for it!

Jamie enjoying Boston Cream Pie on the couch

Speaking of Loyalty Ambassadors, should you ever decide that you are going to stay at an Omni Hotel I highly suggest that you sign up for their free Select Guest Loyalty Program as truthfully, you'd be crazy not to. The program starts rewarding guests from their very first stay with complimentary perks that include in-room Wi-Fi, pressings, shoe shine, morning beverage delivery and so much more. You'll earn a free night after staying just 10 nights but the benefits really start before you even leave home.

As a Select Guest member you're given a Loyalty Ambassador like Kate who will email you to insure that your reservation is correct, suggest possible things to do while you're visiting, and also offer to make any arrangements for dining or other options that you'd like. When I told Kate that I was hoping to tour the Massachusetts State House and the Boston Public Library she emailed me back with tour times and even arranged a late check-out for us so that we could go on the later tour at the library. With Select Guest and a Loyalty Ambassador, your stay at an Omni Hotel or Resort is just that much more special making you feel even more like a valued guest and not just someone passing through. I don't know about you but I really don't mind being a little pampered once in awhile!

Entrance of Parker's Bar overlooking Parker's Restaurant

Portrait of Harvey Parker in Parker's Restaurant at the Omni Parker HouseWhile on the subject of being pampered, I've got to tell you about the breakfast that Jamie and I had at Parker's Restaurant and how good it was because if I didn't make you hungry with our Room Service dinner and Boston Cream Pie above, then I definitely should when I tell you about breakfast!

Parker Restaurant's breakfast menu welcomes you to "The Art of Breakfast" and it truly is that. Sumptuous surroundings coupled with deliciously prepared foods is a fantastic way to kick start any day even if you aren't generally a breakfast eater like I have a tendency not to be however, when I made my reservations for the hotel I had the option of adding on the breakfast buffet at a special price.

Having dined at Parker's for breakfast once back in 2008 while visiting a friend in Boston, I knew how good it was so I decided that Jamie and I should repeat the experience this time trying out the buffet that we had seen the first time we were there. Even though she wasn't quite ready to leave the comfort of her bed when I nudged her awake at almost 10:00, Jamie and I made our way down to Parker's to start our day in the wood-paneled comfort of the restaurant where JFK proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier on June 24th, 1953 at table number forty.

Under the watchful eyes of Harvey Parker, the buffet offers "A bountiful selection of breakfast specialties including farm fresh eggs and omelets prepared to order, old style bacon and sausage, daily griddle and potato selections, smoked salmon, fruit, cereals, sweet breads, juice and coffee or tea."

Breakfast Buffet stations at the Parker House
Bagles and breads and muffins - oh my!  Part of the Breakfast Buffet at the Omni Parker House in Boston.

There was so much to choose from and everything looked so very good!  I opted to start with a bacon, tomato, and cheese omelet with a side of a few slices of bacon, sausage, potatoes, and - of course - a couple of rolls.  Our waiter (who I am pretty sure was the same waiter we had in 2008!) was there with refills of juice and coffee before we even knew we needed them as he anticipated our every need or desire.  Jamie sampled some of the smoked salmon and was very tempted to get a bagel and slather it with Nutella (one of her all-time favorites) but then opted for fresh fruit and an omelet of her own instead.

Even though I really didn't have room after having some fresh fruit following my omelet and other goodies, I decided to try one of the muffins that were on display and was very glad I did as it was absolutely delicious with each bite bursting with blueberry goodness. As my Old Gram B used to say, there was "more than I could possibly eat!" but what I did have was all quite delicious and kept me going straight through until 7:30 in the evening when Jamie and I finally had dinner - now that's a breakfast with some staying power! If a person could die and go to Breakfast Heaven, I would suspect it looks and tastes very much like the Parker Restaurant Breakfast Buffet!

Bacon, Tomato, and Cheddar omelette from the breakfast buffet.

While we were eating breakfast, Jamie told me about a rather "strange" occurrence in our room after she had gone to bed the night before. While she watched a little more TV, I had gone to bed and pretty much fallen directly asleep nestled in the comfort of high-thread count sheets on a cloud-like mattress. I'm pretty sure I slept like a proverbial rock so I didn't notice a thing but Jamie told me that after she had turned out the lights and climbed into her own bed, as she was waiting to fall asleep she noticed a light bobbing around in the room. There's no way that the light could have been coming in from the hall as the door was very well sealed as well as too far away and it couldn't have been from outside either as our windows were covered in Roman-style blackout shades. She said it wasn't disturbing at all, just "kind of weird".

After breakfast, Jamie went back up to our room to head back to bed for a little while (teenagers!) while I walked around the hotel and took pictures. During that time I had the chance to meet with Kate, my Loyalty Ambassador, in person and as we chatted I told her about Jamie's light from the night before. She didn't seem surprised at all as she said that yes, their third and tenth floors have been known to have strange occurrences from time to time. So who knows? Maybe it was Harvey Parker checking to make sure we were enjoying the fine hospitality of his hotel or even Charles Dickens wanting to make sure that when I wrote about the Omni Parker House, I did it up properly! Or perhaps it was another guest come back to once again enjoy the splendor of the room. After all, as Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in his poem entitled "At the Saturday Club":
Such guests! What famous names its record boasts,
Whose owners wander in the mob of ghosts!
In closing, I would like to say that without a doubt, our stay at the Omni Parker House was definitely all that I had ever hoped that it would be - a beautiful and comfortable room with every amenity a guest could want, deliciously prepared food, staff that is at the top of its game in all aspects of hospitality, the perfect location in Boston, lots and lots of history, and maybe even a ghost or two! I'd like to extend a very big thank you to John Murtha, general manager of the Omni Parker House, and my Loyalty Ambassador Kate who both made our visit that much more special along with every single staff member that I had the pleasure of interacting with.  It may have taken me years to get to the hotel that topped my list of "Places I Must Stay at Someday" but I certainly hope that visit won't be my last!

To book your own stay at Boston's beautiful Omni Parker House and create your own history, you can do so online at their website, call the hotel directly at 1-617-227-8600, or reach a helpful Omni Hotel & Resort representative at 1-888-444-OMNI.  If you're in Boston and want to visit Parker's Restaurant, The Last Hurrah, or just peek inside the beautiful lobby, the hotel is located at 60 School Street near Boston Common and numerous other Freedom Trail attractions. You can also find the Omni Parker House on Facebook or follow Omni Hotels on Twitter and their Facebook page where they oftentimes post some really good deals!

Finally, if you're wondering which hotel now tops my list now that I've had the chance to stay at the Number One hotel, it's funny that one of the display windows on the Tremont Street side of the Omni Parker House had a display for the hotel that filled that very spot - the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Perhaps it's a sign!

A display for the Omni Mount Washington Resort

If you want to see more pictures of the Omni Parker House, be sure to visit my SmugMug Gallery!


  1. Wow! That's fancy schmancy, alright! It seems you and Jaime had a marvelous time and were pampered quite nicely! I do thank you for the recipes, which I've already tucked away for a rainy baking day!

    You know I had a brother named John Mills, right? He died a few years ago. I wonder if my parents know he had a historical namesake from Boston?

    Don't you just adore Boston?!

    1. We were indeed treated very well from check-in to check-out. I am very, very impressed with Omni and how they run their operation.

      Hmm, any chance you are related to THE Mills family from Boston? That would be cool!

      And yes indeed, I am finding myself starting to have quite the love affair with Boston which is rather funny as I always avoided driving there like the plague but now it's easy-peasy! I see a lot more trips to Boston in my future - for a history nut like myself it's the perfect place!

  2. Great post as always, Linda! So glad you enjoyed your stay. Historic hotels are simply the BEST!!!

    1. Thank you very much and you're certainly right about historic hotels; they really are the BEST in all respects!

  3. That is a beautiful hotel! You are so lucky to be able to stay in nice places like that. I didn't know that Dickens spent that much time in the US. How interesting! Isn't it cool to think you stayed somewhere that he stayed?

    I would have come home with the gummie bears, too!

    Thanks for taking us along!:-)

  4. What an elegant place! Your beautiful photos make me want to go for sure! I'll have to check it out next time I'm in town.

  5. What a fab place! I wanna go stay there, but don't know when I will get back to bean town. Need to do that...

  6. One word comes to mind...WOW!!!! I so thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, even if it did take me an hour to read it! LOL Oh Linda, what an absolutely fabulous hotel, I just can't believe how opulent it is. Can you just imagine having been there when all those famous people were there?? So much history, it's unbelievable. Isn't that always the case...someone with only a dollar in their name and they eventually become multi millionaires by building up an empire, in this case the Omni Parker House! I can't even imagine staying in a place like that, I would certainly feel like royalty:) Your room was gorgeous as well and the meals...yummmm!! I love Boston Cream Pie but had no idea that's where it all first started! Fabulous post as always my dear friend. xoxo

  7. well now I want to stay there!
    wow and wow again

    I love Boston and have been there a few times but never in such poshness :)

  8. I'm glad you clearly learned so much from reading my book, "A Brief History of the Omni Parker House"! Reminder to guests that it is free when they stay at the Omni Parker in Boston. -- Susan Wilson, author


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