Gay Globe Trekker

Beckoning Beacon

Coming Up: Jon Paul finds refuge at Boston's XV Beacon hotel—causing troubles for everyone

My Mexican mother-in-law is to blame for my love of Boston’s XV Beacon hotel, an affair that has lasted for over a decade.  Because my Texas family rarely visits me in Manhattan, I was more than a little taken aback when Chef nonchalantly mentioned to me in 2001 that his parents would be staying with us for three weeks on their annual pilgrimage to visit their sons scattered along the Eastern seaboard.  Oh, and not only would our home become base camp for the operation, but we also would be escorting them to Boston to see his brother’s family.  Now, this was the early days of our relationship, and I hadn’t settled into my dutiful role of doting daughter-in-law.  I can suck it up for just so long before I need my own space and downtime lest I turn into a real-life prickly pear.

Hearing my predicament at the time, my friend Jennifer jumped into action.  Her PR firm Hawkins International had begun representing a swanky boutique hotel in Boston that had opened, and she’d take care of making the arrangements to allow me a respite.  That evening, when I broke the good news of our alternative accommodations, Chef was shocked.

“How am I supposed to explain to my mother why we’re not staying with the rest of the family?” he asked.

“Just be vague about it,” I replied.

“Vague? That’s your best PR advice?  You know I’m no good at lying.”

“Okay, well, she knows I work for a travel magazine, right?  Just tell her that the hotel is very important, and would be offended if I didn’t stay with them.  How can she argue with that?”

She couldn’t.  And she didn’t.

The minute I pulled up to XV Beacon I breathed a sigh of relief.  The turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts building remodeled into a modern luxury hotel was just what I needed after the drive, made longer because my mother-in-law insisted at shopping at every Ikea along the route (there’s 2, fyi).  Anytime she insisted on a Duck Tour of Bean Town, I feigned a “meeting” back at the hotel—I wasn’t lying, my meeting was with a nap and cocktail on the roof terrace.

Fast forward 10 years, and I have a much easier and loving relationship with my mother-in-law, mainly because I dealt with my own screwy family issues.  I even enjoy staying with my brother & sister-in-law and nephew at their home in Cambridge.  Which put me in awkward situation when I caught up with the XV Beacon General Manager Amy Finsilver in New York recently, and she asked why I don’t ever stay with them anymore.

While I tried to come up with a “vague” answer, Amy tried luring me back by filling me in on all the updates to the hotel.  First, XV Beacon is pet-friendly—meaning Frida is welcome.  There are no fees associated with a pet’s stay, just an optional request that you make a $25 donation to the local ASPCA.  Great, now Frida will be advocating we stay there.  Just what I need, canine pressure.

Second, allergy sufferers like me, are in luck because XV Beacon is the first Boston hotel to use an FDA-cleared air-purifying device in their Hypo-Allergenic Guest Rooms.  According to studies, the purifier kills more than 99% of indoor airborne bacteria.  Hmm, maybe feign a health problem to stay at the hotel?

Planning has already begun for my in-laws arrival this summer.  Now I’m getting pressure from two sides—my mother-in-law and my hotel mistress—about where I’ll be staying on the Boston leg.

Perhaps I’ll split the difference.  And when I explain my decision, I’ll be purposely vague.

Note: for the scoop on XV Beacon as a wedding venue, check out my column on

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