Boston with kids: a stay at Marriott’s Custom House

custom-houseMarriott’s Custom House is hands down the most unique Marriott Vacation Club property I’ve ever seen.
Originally built in 1847 as a–you guessed it–custom house for 1/5th of the world’s wealth brought in at the busy harbor, the hotel is one of the most impressive historical buildings in all of Boston, and yet its one-of-a-kind features are seamlessly integrated with Marriott Vacation Club’s commitment to family programs and amenities. My father, with whom we were fortunate enough to share this portion of our trip, put it this way: “You come to Boston for the history, and end up staying in it.”

I fear I cannot adequately describe our Eagle Suite rooms (located on the 21st floor) in order to do them justice. (Photos don’t do them justice, either.) Have I stayed in suites as luxurious? Yes. As luxuriously unique? No. Located near the top of the tower just under the clock face, the two suites on this floor conform perfectly to their surrounds and the integrity of the historic building. The floor-to-ceiling windows look out upon a birds-eye view of the Back Bay, harbor, and Beacon Hill, and the high ceilings and quaint nooks and crannies reminded us were not in the average hotel room (as if the view could make us forget!). The balconies of these suites sit under the shadow of massive stone eagle gargoles standing sentinel, and only four stories up, the four-sided clock face itself serves as a Boston landmark.

custom-house-view

The interior of all Custom House suites feature full kitchens, a separate bedroom, dining space, living space, a large bathroom, and full closets. Carpeted steps led between our rooms and around bends molding to the layout of the tower in which we were housed. Every detail was cared for, from the coffee for the full-sized coffee maker, to the full-sized toaster, to the four chairs surrounding a table actually large enough to sit and eat around. The single caveat: suites only sleep four (though roll-aways are available should your party need more sleeping space), so families of five or more will need two rooms.

custom-house-suite

One of the most unique features of this already unique property is the observation deck on the 26th floor. Available only to guests, this deck is the only outdoor observation area of the city, and offers stunning 360 degree views. It’s closed in inclement weather, but otherwise available at guests’ leisure. On the 2nd floor, museum artifacts from the Peabody Essex Museum in nearby Salem tell the story of the building’s history, and guests can explore the Counting Room where commerce once boomed (and armed guards once patrolled the balcony walks above to ensure fair trade). This room is now used for nightly entertainment and the morning breakfast buffet. The hotel also has a decent-sized fitness facility considering the space available (on the 25th floor) and families have access to the indoor swimming pool (and larger fitness center) across the street at the Custom House’s sister property, Marriott Long Wharf.

The Custom House concierge and activities director, Ellen Silverman, does a fabulous job ensuring there’s something for everyone, every day, in keeping with Vacation Club standards. In addition to the MAZE activity room for the younger set (open with parental supervision all day and located on the 20th floor), the Custom House offers a game room stocked with air hockey, pool, and video games (and complimentary washers and dryers!) right behind the clock face on the 24th floor, a private movie theater with frequent showings, a daily craft for all ages, and nightly entertainment that jives with the historical aspect of the hotel. During our visit, this entertainment took the form of an Irish folk singer one evening (we listened to him in the historic Counting Room) and a costumed historical narrator the next.

counting-room

And then there’s the Custom House’s incredible location. Just two short blocks from the State House (on the Freedom Trail route) in one direction, one block from Faneuil Square and Quincy Market in another, and half a block from the New England Aquarium in yet another, visitors can walk nearly anywhere. Great family dining is abundant in a 2-3 block radius. Oh, and if that’s not enough, a T stop is located just outside the door, which we used extensively.

If you’re coming to Boston to learn about the history of the city, and want somewhere luxurious but also convenient and comfortable for a family, The Custom House is where you want to be. I know I’ll be back.

Room rates: You don’t have to be a Marriott Vacation Club member to stay at The Custom House. (And you can use Marriott Reward Points, too!) Nightly rates vary by season and availability, but the weekend low rate the week we stayed was $339.

Directions: The Custom House is located at 3 McKinley Square. We walked the four short blocks from the Amtrak station during our trip, but driving it is easy, too. From 93 North, take Exit 23. Stay left after tunnel and follow signs to the aquarium. At first traffic light turn left following signs for aquarium. Take a right onto State Street. Hotel is 1st driveway on the left. Taxi fare from Logan International is approximately $30.

As I disclose whenever applicable, I stayed at The Custom House with a significantly discounted media rate. While appreciated, this rate in no way guaranteed a positive review.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  1. We leave for Boston on Saturday and while we won’t be staying anywhere so luxurious, that photo of the harbor has me giddy with excitement. Sounds like a great hotel!

  2. Have a wonderful time! We loved Boston!

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