Boston sells itself to cash-saving tourists

Head to Boston for the shopping and culture
Head to Boston for the shopping and culture

TRAVEL: Delays due to broken down vehicle on A27

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Jet lag can have its perks and standing on the banks of the Charles River, watching the sunrise over the Boston cityscape as wintry night gave way to crisp early morning, made the trans-Atlantic insomnia a little easier to bear.

My unscheduled dawn stroll across the Longfellow Bridge turned out to be the perfect way to soak up one of America’s most historic cities, before venturing into its beating heart.

Tax was the key issue for Bostonians as the bitter dispute between Britain and her American colonies escalated into revolution in 1775, with the War of Independence. More than two centuries on, the city is again raising another matter of taxation with her cousins across the pond, albeit a rather less inflammatory one.

Boston is urging British and Irish shoppers to eschew New York’s Fifth Avenue this winter and head to Massachusetts instead.

And the reason – you won’t be subject to the same rates of sales tax applied in shops in many other US states.

Dubbed the walking city, it is smaller than many of the US’s major metropolises. A leisurely walk back from the Charles River into the grand Victorian streets of the Back Bay through into the city centre and on to the harbour on the other side takes less than an hour.

Chic shopping spot Newbury Street cuts through the Back Bay and its brownstone facades makes it an experience whether you buy anything or not. My hotel – The Mandarin Oriental – was on the nearby Boylston Street.

Linking the Back Bay and downtown is the picturesque Boston Common. It was a great place to start my second day. Navigating around the fearless geese that roam the 380-year-old park, it felt a bit like Central Park in miniature.

Just off the Common’s north edge is the exclusive Beacon Hill, a beautiful neo-Georgian neighbourhood still illuminated by gas lamps.

A wander up its steep streets was hard on the calf muscles, but well worth it, just for the glimpse into the world of Boston’s patrician elite.

If old money is resident in Beacon Hill, the new money is being made across the Charles in Cambridge – home of some of the best minds in world.

Boston boasts a remarkable 57 colleges and universities and some of the most prestigious sit in Cambridge.

A trip to the area is not complete without a visit to Tory Row at Harvard, a street of colonial 18th century mansions, where many British loyalists lived during the revolutionary war.

As arguably the crucible of the American revolution, modern Boston makes much of its past. The Freedom Trail – a walking route around all the main sites of significance related to the War of Independence – can be completed in an afternoon.

A new museum to commemorate the Boston Tea Party – when a band of colonists infuriated at another British tax stormed ships in the harbour in 1773 and dumped their cargos of tea into the water – opened at the site of the famous ambush earlier this year.

It provides intriguing stories from a city brimful of them and further proof that a break in Boston has far more to offer than just tax breaks.


British Airways offers three nights at the five-star Mandarin Oriental in Boston from £859 per person, based on two people sharing, for travel between December and March.

Or the same package with Club World flights (business) costs from £1,999 per person if you book by November 30, or £2,919 per person if you book after.

British Airways flies three times a day from London Heathrow. Visit

For information on the hotel visit