The Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston is famous for a few reasons. It’s one of the oldest hotels in the country, it’s where Boston cream pie was created, and it’s where luminaries such as presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy held press conferences and power breakfasts. But there was another guest at the hotel, back in 1867, who had won fame as the author of A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Oliver, and The Pickwick Papers, among other literary masterpieces.
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Charles Dickens, during a tour of the U.S. in 1867 and 1868, stayed at the Parker House in an apartment on its third floor. At the time, it was Boston’s best hotel, and former owner Harvey Parker Jr. was delighted to have the literary lion as a guest for about six months. Dickens’ tour included readings from his works, and he is said to have practiced them in front of a mirror in his suite.
Dickens Memorabilia Is On Display Inside The Hotel
The original Parker Hotel, built in 1854, was torn down and rebuilt in the 1920s, so today’s visitors cannot see the rooms where Dickens lived for those six months. However, records show that the door to his room was preserved at the time of the rebuild and donated to the Bostonian Society, which stored it until 2015, then gave it back to the hotel. The door is mounted behind glass in the hotel today. The mirror that helped him prepare for his readings also can be seen on display in the hotel, contained in the same walnut frame that Dickens saw.
The readings by Dickens were held at nearby Tremont Temple, a church sometimes used for public events, during the winter of 1867, and he stayed in the city until early April. The British author wasn’t the only literary giant to frequent the Parker House Hotel. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow are said to have often gathered at the property for Saturday Club, a monthly meeting of writers, historians, and others, that convened starting in 1855.
You Can Try The Hotel’s Famous Boston Cream Pie
The Omni Parker House Hotel continues to operate Parker’s Restaurant, which is open for breakfast and lunch and is known as the creator of Boston cream pie. According to the hotel, it was way back in 1855 when the chef first added chocolate icing to the top of a custard-filled sponge cake and introduced it as the Parker House Chocolate Cream Pie. Eventually, its name changed and the fancy dessert became so well known that Betty Crocker added it to its line-up of boxed cake mixes in 1958.
Now the Omni Parker House ships the iconic pie anywhere in the U.S. But those lucky enough to visit Boston can try it for themselves at another of the hotel’s restaurants, the Last Hurrah Bar. A piece of Boston cream pie goes for $10, and there’s also a Boston cream pie martini for $16. The venue is open daily inside the Omni Parker House Hotel.
Room Choices Include A Large Family Suite
The Omni Parker House Hotel, at 60 School Street, has a wide range of accommodation choices at different price points. All rooms and suites are furnished with 19th-century reproductions, vintage décor, and cherry wood furniture.
The Economy Petite Single Room has one twin bed and is 90 square feet. Rates are from $389 per night.
A Traditional Room has a full-size bed and a desk. It is 125 square feet, and rates are from $389.
A Deluxe Room has two full-size beds or one queen or king bed, and a desk. It is 210 square feet and costs $399 per night.
An Executive Room has either a king bed or two full-size beds, a sitting area and desk, a queen-size sleeper couch, chairs, and a coffee table, and is 400 square feet. Rates are $539 per night.
A Premier Suite offers a king bed or two full-size beds and a formal living room with a pull-out couch plus armchairs and a coffee table. It is 520 square feet, and rates are $644 per night.
A Freedom Trail Family Suite is 620 square feet and has a bedroom and living area plus a children’s sleeping area with bunk beds, bean bag chairs, an activity table for kids, and costumes for them to play with. The per-night rate is about $1,389.
Must-See Attractions Near Omni Parker House Hotel
Boston is loaded with top-notch sightseeing attractions, including historical trails and memorials, parks and gardens, and contemporary venues like museums and upmarket shopping areas. Here are several don’t-miss sights:
- The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walkway that meanders through downtown Boston and showcases 16 landmarks and monuments, including the Old South Meeting House, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. Visitors follow the brick trail from Boston Common through the city’s North End to the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown.
- Boston Common, established in 1634, is the oldest public park in the country and consists of 50 acres. It is a National Historic Landmark. It originally was a cow pasture and, in later years, became known as a public speaking venue and the site of protests and demonstrations. Today it holds concerts and arts events and has peaceful walking trails.
- Museum of Fine Arts Boston is one of the largest museums in the U.S. It exhibits ancient and modern masterpieces, and its collection numbers nearly 500,000 items.
- Faneuil Hall is a historic marketplace dating from 1742, and today is a bustling and lively destination offering some 70 shops and eateries.