Located behind Harvard University , A Bed & Breakfast in Cambridge (1657 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617/868-7082, www.cambridgebnb.com , $95–200) has three rooms decked out with antique writing desks, canopy beds, and down comforters. The owners clearly delight in hospitality, with freshly baked breads and homemade jams served for breakfast, and a library of books on Boston  and Cambridge  for guests to peruse. The three guest rooms share a common bath.
Jaws often drop when their owners pass beneath the unassuming brick facade of the Inn at Harvard (1201 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617/491-2222, www.theinnatharvard.com ) and enter the spectacular four-story Italianate courtyard inside. Merely ten years old, the inn has worked hard to create an atmosphere befitting its namesake 400-year-old university. Rooms are luxuriously appointed with plush bedding and sheer curtains. Perks for guests include free calls to the Harvard telephone system and passes to the Harvard Faculty Club.
Located within a renovated 1894 Queen Anne–style brick firehouse, the Kendall Hotel (350 Main St., Cambridge, 866/566-1300, www.kendallhotel.com , $130–240) bills itself as a “historic boutique hotel” within the MIT  campus. Rooms have been lovingly constructed to evoke the era, with country quilts, reproduction furniture, and period antiques. Rates include a breakfast buffet served at an in-house restaurant.
The Hotel Marlowe (25 Edwin Land Blvd., Cambridge, 800/825-7140, www.hotelmarlowe.com , $180–600) might not have the best location, situated above a mall in a no-man’s-land between Boston  and Cambridge . For style and ambience, however, there is no competition on either side of the river. Every inch has been designed to evoke a mind-blowing pastiche of Buck Rogers and Alice in Wonderland. Bold colors and plush fabrics combine with technological touches like in-room PlayStations and CD players to make this the boutique hotel of choice for the visiting urban sophisticate. Did we mention the complimentary evening wine hour and 24-hour room service?
When the literati come to Cambridge , there is only place for them to stay. The Charles Hotel (1 Bennett St., Cambridge, 617/864-1200, www.charleshotel.com , $300–480) is filled with every modern luxury, including down comforters, handmade quilts, Bose Wave radios, and DVD players in every room. At the same time, the hotel is quintessentially Cambridge, with an in-house lending library filled with autographed literary bestsellers and a health spa and restaurants frequented by resident academes and visiting celebrities alike.