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Irving House at Harvard

Irving House at Harvard is described by Rachael, one of the owners of the property, as "a little hotel." The building contains a total of 44 rooms. There are five different types of rooms, ranging in size from a small room with a twin (single) bed to a family room, with a queen bed and two twin beds. As the house itself was built in 1893, many of the rooms that are located at the front of the building are original in size to that time period. The main office is open during all hours for check-in and check-out or for visitors who may require additional service. A buffet-style breakfast is served at the hotel every morning, featuring options such as fruit, baked goods, and egg popovers with cheese and peppers. For lunch and dinner, visitors can also explore the restaurants that are in close proximity to the Irving House, namely, Grafton Street, Grendel's Den, or Henrietta's Table.


Irving House at Harvard, situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers 44 total rooms in the main house. Up the street, Turner House has 11 rooms is set up for weekly and monthly rentals. Guests who come to stay at Irving House can lounge in common areas at the property, including two porches, the front hall, and the parlor. The north porch can provide a fair amount of shade, and the south porch is typically sunnier. A computer, telephone, and various games can all be found inside the parlor, which is about the size of a standard living room. As visitors make their way to the basement of the inn, an ice maker, fridge, and microwave can be found for guest use. Additional amenities include TVs in the rooms and filtered water in the on-site bubbler. For the weekly or monthly rentals at Turner House, fresh towels and sheets are provided to occupants each week. In the main house (Irving House) twelve single rooms and two double rooms share bathrooms in the hallway.

A community bulletin board is available on the premises with the information for visitors about the local events, festivals, or activities. The front of the house contains a garden, and flower pots can be found on the porch areas. A ramp that leads to the front door accesses the north patch of the garden. Owners Barry Herring and Rachael Solem put forth the effort in maintaining the exterior of the grounds to further emulate a calming atmosphere for their guests. According to the owners, Irving House is the only business on Irving Street, an otherwise residential street.

From the words of Rachael, Irving House at Harvard offers a "robust buffet breakfast" served between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM daily. Breakfast options are namely oats, fruit, dried fruit, muffins, baked goods, and toast. Rachael mentions that they generally try to avoid serving meat dishes. Coffee and tea service is available to all guests until 10:00 PM, and afternoon snacks, including cookies and fruit, are available to guests throughout the day. The area where breakfast is served offers two dining spots where guests can enjoy their meals. For those who are staying at the Turner House, a breakfast plan at Irving House is offered as a separate service, as the rooms in the Turner House contain kitchenettes for visitors to cook their own food.

Irving House at Harvard is in Cambridge, across the Charles River from Boston, a prominent city in Massachusetts. There is a wide range of attractions and things to do in the area. Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail, and Old Ironsides Way in Charlestown are a few options for visitors, in addition to taking the train to Cape Cod. A boat that leads to Provincetown from Cape Cod is also an activity or transportation method that visitors can utilize. Rachael remarks that during the month of July, visitors typically go to the mountains or nearby beaches to engage in outdoor recreation. Irving House at Harvard can be used as a basecamp for visitors to stay at as they engage in many of the previously listed activities.

Barry and Rachael recommend several nearby restaurants to those who stay at the property. One such restaurant is Grendel's Den, which serves pub food and is located on Harvard Square. Grafton Street, another recommended restaurant by the owners, also serves pub food. For those who are in search of a more upscale or elegant style restaurant, the owners direct them to Harvest or Henrietta’s Table. Lastly, Cambridge Common is a family-oriented pub that the owners recommend to visitors.


Irving House at Harvard is open year-round, with the busiest season of operation occurring in October; however, August and September are the months that typically have the most ideal weather, as stated by the owner. Many local festivals are hosted during those two months, and some students and their families come to the area during this time for the upcoming school year. Rachael remarks that directors and other theater artists occasionally come to stay at the house for several weeks, as well as individuals who are working at the nearby hospital. Frequently, Harvard University hosts festivals and events that people can attend, more specifically, the Hasty Pudding Show in February, which can draw in a fair amount of visitors. One of the unique characteristics of the property, according to Rachael, is its size. She notes that, to be accommodating to their less mobile guests, they will bring breakfast trays to people who have a difficult time using the stairs on the premises, as an elevator is not available at the Irving House.

Barry and Rachael want their guests to feel that they have their privacy and have their needs met during their stay. "Keep it simple," Rachael comments as she explains their methods of providing guests with a pleasant experience. The owners have the goal in mind of being a comfortable, clean, and minimalist home for visitors. A particularly unique aspect of the Irving House at Harvard is that books can be found in many areas of the premises in the hallways and rooms, and Rachael calls it "a giving library" as guests are given the option to take home a book with them if they would like. The owner mentions that their business card is a bookmark. One visitor who previously stayed at Irving House commented on the library, saying it is a "nice, comfortable, friendly place to stay in Cambridge. I've stayed many times and enjoyed the laid-back vibe, the great breakfast spread, and the bookshelf in every room with an assortment of books to browse and take home."

Policies that visitors are expected to follow include keeping quiet hours after 10:00 PM due to the relative ease with which noise can travel inside the home. Smoking is prohibited on the grounds inside and outside the building. As for pets, only service animals are allowed to stay at the property.

Though events are not hosted at the property, a meeting space in the breakfast room is available to conference groups or students who need a place to gather or study. The room contains a television and computer, and the door can close to provide privacy.


In 1893, the Irving House at Harvard was built by a grocer named Enoch Beane, who originally created the building as a two-family home. In the year 1927, it was divided to create 44 lodging rooms. Irving Street had become a lodging area, converting log houses into places of hospitality. According to the owner, Julia Child lived on Irving Street for many years.

Barry and Rachael, the current owners of Irving House at Harvard, have known each other for almost fifty years. They first met through Barry's childhood friend, the same person who discovered the Irving House property. Rachael had the desire to purchase the business, considering that she wanted to have a sufficient amount of money that would allow her kids to go to college. Originally, the couple operated the business with the partnership of two other individuals, both of which gave up ownership of the property.

The building at 24 Irving Street had been an annex of the Kirkland Inn owned by a couple from eastern Europe who would rent the rooms to Harvard students. After one year of allowing Harvard students to stay at the home, they decided to take in Radcliffe students instead, which led them to turn the home into a small hotel. By 1945 Irving House was established as a hotel. The current owners of the home purchased the establishment in July 1990, with a number of renovations taking place since acquiring the acreage. Some renovations include fixing the home to comply with fire standards, plus adding sprinklers, full air conditioning, and additional ‘en suite’ bathrooms. The business is currently being operated mainly by the owners' daughter, with help from Rachael.

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24 Irving Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
United States


Bed and Breakfast


Rachael Solem

Owned Since
July 1990
4.43 (763 Reviews)
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