Why you should follow Frasier back to Boston

Peddling, I suspect pointlessly, on a cycle boat around a sunny Boston Harbour – cold beer in my hand as 80s dad-rock pumps out of the stereo - I wonder what embarrassing misunderstanding would lead to Frasier Crane getting himself into such an out-of-character situation, and which character would fall in first.

He’s decided to move back here, you see. In May 2004, the finale of Frasier saw the titular radio psychiatrist bow out in style, with a final speech on his KACL radio show. “For 11 years you’ve heard me say, ‘I’m listening.’ Well, you were listening, too. And for that I am eternally grateful. Goodnight, Seattle.” Ever since, rumours have been circulating of a return.

Finally, it was confirmed at the end of last year, followed by a teaser picture of a first-class plane ticket bearing his name… to Boston, where the character of Frasier Crane debuted almost 40 years ago in Cheers.  The series’ new title card bears the skyline of the city’s landmarks, including the Prudential Tower and Bunker Hill Bridge.

The range of architectural styles in downtown Boston speak to its history (Photo: Andrey Denisyuk/Getty)

Crane’s Seattle life was one of fine cuisine, pampering, high society, fine wine, posh coffee and the odd sports game (under duress). I decide then that my mantra for my week in Boston is going to be “What Would Frasier Do?” (WWFD). I can’t afford to sit at the front of the plane, so I opt for JetBlue’s premium Mint cabin to fly across the Atlantic.

I’m staying at the Omni Hotel Seaport Boston, not only because the high-end accommodation and art collection would meet with Frasier’s approval, but because of the location. Seaport has sprung up out of an urban wasteland in the past 20 years and would surely be on Frasier’s shortlist when it comes to house hunting.  

This polished, modern neighbourhood on the water teems with brunch hangouts, restaurants, boutiques, wine bars and coffee shops, all within a pedestrianised walking distance from one another. It also wraps around the Boston Tea Party Museum, which is marking the 250th Anniversary of the demonstration this year.

But time to get into downtown, where everybody knows your name.  This is classic Boston – 19th-century buildings beneath 80s skyscrapers, bustling markets, plentiful seafood, and, of course, many, many bars. There’s one location that tops most tourists’ lists here.

Cheers in Beacon Hill, formerly the Bull and Finch Pub, is a popular tourist attraction (Photo: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Cheers in Beacon Hill, formerly the Bull and Finch Pub, is a popular tourist attraction (Photo: John Greim/Getty)

The exterior of Cheers is everything you’d hope for, so much so that I half expect a voiceover from somewhere to announce that “Cheers is filmed before a live studio audience.” Downstairs, it’s a different story – a charming British-style pub which used to go by the name of The Bull and Finch, and then through a gift shop and up another flight is the mock-up of the Cheers bar, serving cold suds and pub grub… and another gift shop. Totally worth it for the photo opportunities alone. 

Downtown is also home to the Union Oyster House where JFK used to eat, the covered Public Market, and Boston Common, which is now home to the moving ‘Embrace’ sculpture, modelled on the hug shared between Martin Luther King Jr and Coretta Scott King when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. It was in Boston where MLK earned his doctorate.

But back to Frasier. Who knows whether he’d check back in with the good folk at Cheers, when his new life seems to be centred around his Alma Mater, Harvard University. I take a taxi across town to the university quarter, where a Sophomore student guides my group around the main campus of the Ivy League school, which has seen the likes of Kennedy, Obama, Gates and… Matt Damon, walk its hallowed grounds. It’s an area of the city which reinforces the feeling of history and grandeur that pervades Boston – the city is a keystone in the modern American story.

Harvard Yard at the Harvard University campus (Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Harvard Yard at the Harvard University campus (Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Out of Frasier’s comfort zone, but nevertheless a situation in which he found himself more than once due to his now departed father Marty, was a ball game.  A visit to Boston wouldn’t be complete without Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox – the team that Cheers’ Sam Malone was once a pitcher for. I marvel at the size of the chilli dogs as I take a seat for a game which, much like most American Sports, seems to be made up as they go along. A spectacle nonetheless, and baseball cap duly purchased, I shuffle out into the Boston night, still trying to figure out who won.

Recovery comes when I once again adhere to my WWFD mantra the next day, checking into The Four Seasons Spa for a massage which uses cleansing crystals for harmony and to activate my intentions. My intention being dinner, I finish my time here at Menton, haute cuisine mixed with New England Seafood, and, just like Boston, just the right balance of friendly and high-end.

Enmanuel Valdez #47 of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park (Photo: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
Enmanuel Valdez of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park (Photo: Winslow Townson/Getty)

Boston and Seattle have much in common – history and familiarity, the water-based lifestyle and the impressive cultural scene. It’s easy to see how Frasier could move between the two without (too much) incident. A city of learning, culture, and a certain downstairs bar, Boston is somewhere he could resettle quite happily.

‘Frasier’ starts on Paramount+ on 13 October, with earlier episodes are available now 

How to get there
The writer travelled with JetBlue, which offers nonstop daily service from Gatwick and Heathrow to Boston 

Where to stay
Omni Boston at the Seaport has double rooms from $242 (£) room only.

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