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South End Style in the Boutique Fashion

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Posted by Max Grinnell, guest blogger of The Urbanologist

Many day-trippers come to stroll through the brick-lined streets of the South End to experience America’s largest concentration of Victorian brownstones. The buildings hug each other close, and some even look across beautifully landscaped green spaces, such as those that offer a mirror image in Union Park.

They are the South End’s defining feature and while many folks come for just an afternoon to sit outside and have a drink or to wander along the Southwest Corridor Park, many would do well to pause, spend the night, and explore more of its restaurants and other amenities at a leisure place.

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Photo: Strolling around the Southwest Corridor Walk in the South End

A Boutique Experience on Berkeley 

Opened in 2013, the Chandler Studios are gently nestled in between two lovely historic brownstones on Berkeley Street. You couldn’t ask for a better location as a home base, with the restaurant row along Tremont Street residing but a few blocks away. There’s great T access nearby at the Back Bay Station, and it’s just a short walk to a range of local attractions, including the Cyclorama, as well as a number of art galleries.

Each room has a sense of casual elegance and historical touches that give visitors a bit of context to the history and wonders of the South End. First off, the decorative elements include wonderful images of the former elevated train tracks that defined the South End for decades. These nods to the historical context of the nabe are quite wonderful and visitors will also appreciate the contemporary, fully equipped kitchenette, free WiFi and work desk, particularly for those who might have to pause for other commitments.

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Photo: Outside the entrance at Chandler Studio 24

For those folks who might be arriving via automobile, there are several parking spaces available behind the building and many of the rooms are handicapped accessible, too. Before planning a stay at the Chandler, visitors might also wish to check their specials page for possible discounted rates.

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Photo: A look around Chandler Studio 24

Southern Influences in the South End

After checking in at the Chandler, you might be feeling a bit peckish. Just a few hundred feet away at Merrill & Co, the culinarily curious will find a raw bar and a stellar Sunday brunch menu. Cocktails are also in the mix, including the Gansett 75 (yup, it’s got Narragansett beer in the mix) and the divine Sherry Cobbler (amontillado, orange and sugar), which is available in a carafe size for larger parties. Additionally, as a bit of live Sunday brunch entertainment, they offer karaoke from 3-6 pm, which is a nice accompaniment to their pork rinds and waffle fries.

Walk it Off

Boston is a city perfect for perambulation and the South End is a walker’s paradise. Even a casual saunter will reveal bits of intriguing public art, thoughtful garden designs, and other lovely quirks. As part of such an excursion, you should take this excellent guide to the South End’s Green Spaces, lovingly crafted by the folks at the New England Landscape Design & History Association. No matter the season, it’s the perfect way to explore Union Park, the charms of the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza, and the Warren/Clarendon Community Garden.

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Photo: Union Park in the South End

In the Evening, a Libation

Whatever the weather, and no matter how long you’ve walked, you’ll want to stop on by Wink & Nod for a night cap amidst warm armchairs and a lighting scheme that is distinctly down-tempo.

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Photo: A look inside Wink and Nod by Atusushi Tomioka

This comfortable spot is again a few feet away from the Chandler and, since their opening in March 2014, they have received warm reviews for their cocktails and food. Some of the highlights here include foie gras duck meatballs and kale noodle bolognese. They don’t shy away from pushing the envelope with their drinks, either, and recent highlights have included jello Negroni shots in citrusy orange peels and Tiki creations with small batch rum and more.

Max Grinnell is a writer based in Cambridge, MA, who writes about cities, public art, geography, travel, and anything else that strikes his fancy. His writings can be found online at www.theurbanologist.com and he tweets over @theurbanologist.

Photo at the top: South End sunrise courtesy of Tom Thai.

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