Take a Peek Inside the Impeccably Designed Beacon Hill Books & Cafe


Boston’s newest bookstore is opening soon.

on the first floor of Beacon Hill Books

Photo by Sarah Winchester

As if the quaint red brick buildings and winding streets weren’t enough fodder to get you strolling the streets of Beacon Hill, you’ll soon have another reason to head to the neighborhood: the grand opening of the five-story Beacon Hill Bookstore. The new store, which will take over the building that was once home to Beacon Hill’s longtime mainstay, The Hungry I, is slated to open in the next few weeks, but a quick peek reveals a carefully crafted bookstore experience full of thoughtful design touches and charming nooks and crannies for readers of all kinds.

Each floor focuses on something for a different type of reader, but the curation goes beyond that — the floors all have individual rooms, each painted a slightly different hue, and catered to a subset of readers, whether they’re teens, to aspiring Travelers or interior design trades devils. This latter group will find much to enjoy here, given BHBS’s goal of being one of the leading providers of interior design books in the Boston area, but also because of the thoughtful design of the space. Carvings of themed items hang above the shelves (watch out for pen and ink or the easel), and the kid’s floor features kid-sized furniture, a sneaky side door into a hallway, and a train that runs between rooms (over, both over, of course the Longfellow and Harvard bridges).

The store will also open with the requisite delightful cafe. Visitors can skip the line at Tatte across the street in favor of a quick coffee and pastry on the back patio, then come back for lunch at the cafe, pause with a colleague during the afternoon English tea service, and then relax at the end of the day with a glass of wine and some snacks. And yes, if you’re completely blown away by the premises, they’ll be hosting private events in the coming days, whether that be in the cafe or at a long table on the second floor that seats up to 22 books.

The staff, led by owner Melissa Fetter and manager Irene MacDonald, enjoy an airy, skylighted upstairs space, but for those who can’t get enough of the bookstore’s charm, a writing class will also meet in this space.

And of course, be sure to stop by the residence of shop mascot Paige the Squirrel on your way out. A small dwelling, designed by children’s book author and illustrator Brian Lies, has been carved into the first-floor wall, where you can spot some local details, including a box of Mike’s Pastry, as well as a painting the Gardner Museum may be interested in knowing. A children’s book written by Sarah S. Brannen explains her history with the place, but don’t expect to see her there during the day – she’s busy hanging out with the other squirrels on the Common.

71 Charles Street, Boston, bhbooks.com.

a carved paige the squirrel outside of the beacon hill books

The shop is easy to find thanks to a mahogany carving of Paige the squirrel outside. Photo by Sarah Winchester

Children's room at Beacon Hill Books

Child-friendly furniture in the children’s room. Photo by Sarah Winchester

The function room at Beacon Hill Books

The function room at Beacon Hill Books. Photo by Sarah Winchester

The gray books are from Persephone Books, which is working to publish titles by 19th and 20th century women authors. Photo by Sarah Winchester

paige the house of the squirrel in the beacon hill books

Paige’s apartment. Photo by Sarah Winchester

The Secret Door in the Children's Room at Beacon Hill Books

The Secret Door in the Children’s Room at Beacon Hill Books. Photo by Sarah Winchester

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