Boston is one of the most historically important metropolises in the whole of the USA. Revolutions have been seeded here and the very birth of the nation can be traced to the 16 landmarks of the so-called Freedom Trail. Set on the wild, wave-lashed east coast of Massachusetts, the town isn’t only a must for lovers of the American story. It’s also layered with more multiculturalism than you can shake a Boston Red Sox cap at. Irish bars, Polish food kitchens, Italiano pizza joints – they’re all here, still championing the great migrations that breathed life into the place throughout the 1800s. And as if that’s still not enough, you can tread the hallowed grounds of Harvard and MIT to boot. They’re two of the world’s finest universities, found lurking on the north shore of the Charles River with their prestigious halls and corridors.
Airbnb is a fine way to get stuck into the soul of Boston. Unlike classic hotels, these pads are woven into the fabric of the local neighborhoods. They offer somewhere to call your own as you explore the campuses and the revolutionary sights. This guide can help you pick out the parts of the city that are perfect for your stay. It’s also got some tips on the best Airbnbs in town…
In this Airbnb guide to Boston:
- Is Airbnb legal in Boston?
- Where should I stay in Boston Airbnb?
- Best Airbnbs in Boston
- Best Airbnb apartment in Boston
- Best Airbnb house in Boston
- Best Airbnb for families in Boston
- Best Airbnb for large groups in Boston
- Is Airbnb cheaper than hotels in Boston?
Is Airbnb legal in Boston?
Airbnb regulations in Boston are pretty similar to what they are in other major cities across the United States. Basically, hosts have to register with the appropriate authorities, and only homes that are also primary residences are able to be listed. The good news is that none of the regulations should have an effect on the way you use the sharing platform as a traveler. You’re still free to delve into the mix of brownstone apartments in the Back Bay and historic homes in Beacon Hill, and to book whatever you please. Just to be sure, we’d recommend messaging the host directly to double check that their pad is all registered and above board.
Where should I stay in Boston Airbnb?
The capital of Massachusetts is a veritable mosaic of different neighborhoods and districts. We’ve aimed to pick out some of the best, starting with the elegant brownstone buildings of historic Beacon Hill (1), the old-style streets of the North End (2), and the industrial-chic Leather District (3). All of those boast heritage and history aplenty, as does old Charlestown (4) to the north. Meanwhile, the Seaport District (5) to the south is more down-to-earth and affordable. The prestigious Back Bay (6) has grand homes that are more than 100 years old. The South End (7) is similar in style to that but more hipster and quirky. Further out is the student haven of Allston–Brighton (8), where you can get some pretty good Airbnb bargains most of the year.
- Plenty of history
- Lovely redbrick buildings
- Good cafés and shops
- It’s expensive
- Gets busy with tourists in summer
Beacon Hill rises above old Boston with the tips of the Massachusetts State House. It’s one of the most affluent and historically important corners of the city, known for its grand mansions and buildings that date from the age of the American Revolution. The streets are narrower and dotted with overhanging trees. The homes are redbrick blocks with big bay windows. It’s all pretty attractive. Staying here also puts you within easy reach of downtown’s sidewalk cafés and shopping boutiques.
- Italian food!
- Some seriously old buildings
- Handsome streets
- Not too many Airbnbs to pick from
- Can be hard to navigate
The most venerable of the residential areas in Boston is also a tourist favorite. It’s easy to see why. Historic POIs are artfully woven into vibrant blocks of old-school architecture. Oh, and it’s got the best array of Italian dining in the city. Yep, you can’t walk 10 meters without hitting a Tuscan trattoria with tasty tagliatelle or a deep-pan pizza joint with checkered tablecloths. There are some intriguing and lesser-known sights, too, like the 17th-century Clough House and the crooked Paul Revere House, dating from 1680!
- Amazing Asian dining
- Interesting industrial architecture
- Good bars
- It’s really small – so not much to see in the immediate area
- Not loads of Airbnbs
The Leather District – or just the LD for short – was named for the high concentration of leather-tanning and cutting factories that set up shop here in the late 1800s. These days, most of those have been converted into creative ethnic kitchens. So, get ready to smell ginger-infused ramen dishes and Colombian single-origin roasts as you wander the blocks. Aside from the restaurant temptations in the LD proper, the greater parts of Boston’s Chinatown are right next door, offering even more in the way of adventurous eating. Basically, this is a perfect quarter for foodies!
- Plenty of history
- Being rejuvenated
- Easy to reach from Logan International Airport
- A little industrial looking
- Traffic from the interstate
The Seaport District lies over the docks from the more historic points of interest in the city. However, we’d say it’s a perfect place to go if you want to get a feel for the workaday, industrial character that Boston is known for. Half gentrified, half gritty, it’s very much in the throes of a sea change. One moment you’ll be strolling the mind-boggling installations of the Institute of Contemporary Art. The next, you could be smelling the salty catch from the skiffs of the Boston Fish Pier.
- Irish immigrant culture
- History is everywhere
- Charming, old-style street
- Can be pricy
- A little touristy
Set between the Mystic and Charles rivers, this cutout of central Boston is a must for all the history buffs. It was laid out and named during the reign of King Charles I of England, and you can still see traces of that era in the colonial-styled urban planning of Winthrop Square. There’s even more history to be had up on the Bunker Hill Monument, which commemorates one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Expect an enthralling and immersive area, with narrow lanes and streets lit by age-old gaslights.
- Classically Boston rowhouses
- Upmarket shopping
- Excellent links to the major sights
- Super expensive
- Largely residential
The Back Bay hugs the Charles River with its boat-bobbing marinas a little to the west of central Boston. It’s arguably the most quintessential hood in the city, known for the grand Victorian rowhouses that thread Marlborough Street and Beacon Street with their stepped entranceways. For retail therapy, be sure to mark Newbury Street on your travel map – it’s one of the most upscale parts of town. For cafés and brunch spots, head south to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.
- Diverse food scene
- Charming brownstone architecture
- Decent Airbnb selection
- A bit of a trek to old Boston
- Some parts close to the interstate
If you want to stay amid the iconic brownstone houses of Boston but don’t want to pay a premium for the Back Bay, the South End could just be perfect. It’s long been a middle-class district, which underwent a major renewal in the mid-19th century. These days, the powers of gentrification are working overtime, and South End flaunts all sorts of coffee houses, Middle Eastern mezze kitchens, Spanish wine bars – you name it. The best part to be based is around Fremont.
- Student bars
- Lively character
- More affordable
- Quite far from the main sights
- It’s a big area, so can be hard to find the right spot
Allston–Brighton is the stomping ground of Boston’s huge student population. Not all of them live here, of course. All of them will know about it, though. It’s the hub of the student housing (and therefore parties), evidenced by the so-called Allston Christmas in August, when last year’s renters shift their belongings onto the sidewalk to make way for the new cohort. Ranging from the university premises of Cambridge in the north to the waters of the Chestnut Hill Reservation in the south-west, this is a vast cutout of the city. The most happening parts are around Packard’s Corner and Harvard Ave. Head to those to mix with the younger crowd.
Best Airbnbs in Boston
Best Airbnb apartment in Boston
One Bedroom in Prime Location Near Boylston
There’s a touch of the retro 1970s about this small and compact apartment in the streets to the south of the prestigious Back Bay. That helps to set it apart from the crowd, as does the fitted kitchen and hotel-style bedroom, which offers window views across to Boston’s towering skyscrapers.
Best Airbnb house in Boston
Renovated Home With Parking
This tight-knit home is Boston through and through. Located in the streets that filter away from the foodie mecca of Chinatown, it’s fronted by high redbrick walls. Inside, those famous exposed clay surfaces continue to add a dash of authenticity to the space, while parquet wood floors and a luxury kitchen with breakfast bar only add to the charms. The best part? Check out that roof terrace with views across to the high-rises!
Best Airbnb for families in Boston
Luxury 4-bedroom home in the Gaslight District
Hop to this family pad near the older Charlestown area and you’ll immerse the whole crew in the rich colonial past of Boston. It’s the perfect place to retire to for some R&R after sightseeing all day. There’s a fireplace, marble hearths, a kitchen with an open breakfast table, and even an outdoor terrace. There are four bedrooms, which means enough sleeping space for up to eight guests.
Best Airbnb for large groups in Boston
Refined Luxury Oasis
This off-beat pad spreads through four bedrooms and a number of living spaces in a showcasing of curious vintage design. A combo of retro flurries and traditional New England farmhouse touches help to create a uniquely kitsch vibe. On top of that, you get sleeping for up to 15 guests, using both doubles, bunks, and singles throughout.
Is Airbnb cheaper than hotels in Boston?
It certainly can be. Yep, there’s a good chance that an Airbnb in the capital of MA will set you back less than a conventional hotel. Not only do nightly rates tend to be less, but you can also find apartments or houses that have enough room to fit your travel group. Doing that means you can divide up the cost of the whole thing. On top of that, there are usually some pretty generous bargains when it comes to longer-term stays. Choose to explore Boston for a week or more and you could be in line to get reductions of 10-25%.
One thing to think about is that Airbnbs don’t offer the same hands-on service as hotels do. If you’re looking to be greeted at reception and have room service at the end of the phone, you’ll need to book somewhere like the Hyatt Regency Boston. It’s a chic chain hotel with a location in central Downtown Crossing, not to mention a huge indoor pool and gym.
Lose yourself amid the Victorian brownstone houses and the stout-swilling Irish pubs of Boston, MA, all with help from this guide to the best neighborhood Airbnbs the city has to offer…
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