BOSTON – Dining options present travelers with a fairly peculiar dilemma. On the one hand, mid and luxury scale hotels spend as much time on their restaurants and lounges as they do on upkeep and marketing. They want visitors to be dazzled by sleek, contemporary choices that make their destination so memorable, it can justify a $190 tab. And in a time where branding is as dependent on reputation as it is service, those choices are as germane to the travel experience as suggesting you not walk into Fountain Park at 2 am after your sixth nightcap.
On the other hand, there are those of us for whom travel generally means checking into a Motel 6 in Syracuse and knowing you’ll be lucky to find an Applebee’s; but you’ll probably settle for a bag of pork rinds and a 40 ounce from the nearest convenience store.
If you fall into the former category, than you’re likely already aware that the Forbes Travel Guide has been an indispensable resource for several decades. Despite the fact that it’s reviewers are likely the same anonymous tastemakers who’ll suggest going to Denny’s if you want a home meal away from home from the likes of Zagat’s, it doesn’t lie to you. They want to be your friend. They’re not receiving kickbacks (as they indicate proudly, “venues [have] to demonstrate an exceptional beverage program, presentation and service”—so you know they’re not receiving kickbacks) and they’ll provide you with everything you need to know in order to justify spending a minimum $399 a night at a four star hotel.
Even where to drink. Anywhere in the world. Hong Kong. London. Las Vegas. And even Boston.
So, for those of you wondering where to drink, it’s not Alibi. Or Hojoko. And it’s not even loitering outside a Day’s Inn with a thermos full of Pepe Lopez until you tip to front desk clerk every 15 minutes to go away. No, it’s the Rowes Wharf Bar at the Boston Harbor Hotel, which just made number 6 on their list of “The World’s 44 Best Hotel Bars.”
“The handsome bar boasts Boston’s largest scotch collection,” reads the review. “But it also takes pride in crafting cocktails like the Irish Rose (a mix of Tyrconnell Irish Whiskey, Boston Bittahs, angostura bitters, simple syrup, smoked rose buds). Either way, you can’t lose.”
So, what are the Forbes Travel Guide’s criteria for the prestige of being named one of the world’s best hotel bars? “Winners made the data-driven list by scoring top marks on bar standards related to elements of luxury. For example, inspectors checked to see if the beverages had a distinctive presentation, the snacks were high quality, the napkins were linen or cotton, and the overall bar experience was impressive.
"The bars also had to achieve near-perfect scores on food and beverage quality standards, which measure things such as whether the cocktails are well-balanced and served at the right temperature.”
Which is great to know if you feel cotton napkins are an affront to your way of life. Or if you’re in London and plan on staying at the Savoy (which made the top of their list.) Or in Macau and plan on staying at the Ritz Carlton (number 35.) Or in Beverly Hills. Or Geneva. Or Dubai. Or anywhere in the world where you know your money is wanted. Anywhere your currency type demands tableside service. And anywhere where your luxurious tastes can be indulged, fondled and caressed just to sate your ego’s insistence that… you have luxurious tastes which should be indulged in, fondled and caressed—in stark distinction to the unwashed hoi polloi.
But some of us are perfectly content to loiter outside a Day’s Inn with a thermos full of bottom shelf tequila.
For a full list, visit Forbes Travel Guide’s World’s 44 Best Hotel Bars.