PHOTO: The Colonnade Hotel Boston's main entrance with rentable mini car. (photo courtesy of The Colonnade Hotel)
Boston is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive character. From the Italian North End, (where drop-ins for pasta or cannoli are a must), to Beacon Hill, (with its Bull & Finch Bar featured in exterior shots for the television sitcom Cheers), each district in the city has its own charm and history.
Back Bay was once quite literally a bay, where land reclamation following a 19th-century housing project created a new bit of land for what is today a treasure trove of shops, landmarks, museums and galleries.
Built in 1971, The Colonnade Hotel purports to have kicked off the neighborhood’s renaissance.
The hotel casts an imposing line of cement columns fronting the Prudential Center, is conveniently close to the subway and is an alluring destination unto itself. Its ultra-local style of New England hospitality will leave visitors with a deep sense of the city and neighborhood they’ve spent their stay in.
Amenities are pretty standard for an AAA Four Diamond rated property, although there are unexpected extras like Keurig coffee makers, complimentary shoe shine and turn down service—which is often not quite standard at many hotels of the same ilk. Similarly surprising are the wide floor-to-ceiling windows and windows that open to let in the sea air and sounds of the city.
Smile-making touches include the logoed rubber duckies in the baths—a welcome bit of friendliness for the harried solo traveler. (Oh, and they’re individually plastic wrapped so one needn’t wonder how many baths they’ve survived prior to your arrival).
Another refreshing feature is The Colonnade's intimacy: Although the amenities and service are big-hotel calibers, the petite lobby and accessible public areas (including parking) mean there’s no long wander down meandering corridors or through endless function breakout spaces before reaching the sidewalk.
It's just steps outside once you’re downstairs.
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Brasserie JO, the on-site (and faithfully French) bistro is remarkable for hotel dining. During my visit, it appeared to be popular with the neighborhood. Given the execution of the classic Gallic comfort foods, it’s no surprise why.
Baguettes came wrapped in paper, presented with a marinated carrot salad amuse bouche; decadent profiteroles with house made ice cream and puff pastry was served up in America-sized portions. The breakfast buffet was similarly notable with plenty of fresh baked pastries and more than the usual breakfast items—a divine brisket hash and eggs scrambled with gruyere made for a pleasant morning.
During the summer months, the hotel opens a rarity for Boston: a rooftop pool, which features additional dining and beverage options, allowing guests to take a dip with unbeatable views of the Back Bay skyline. In the winter, the hotel offers special weekend rates based on the outdoor temperature with its Frosty Friday's promotion.
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The Takeaway: For a hotel that is an easy reflection of the neighborhood and community it serves, The Colonnade is a departure from the chain hotel mold: charming, personable, and convenient.
The Damage: I’ve seen winter weekend rates from $199—about half of what you might expect to pay during the summer peak season.
Instagrammable Moment: Skyline views from the unique rooftop pool or cute shots of the resident bathtub ducks will definitely find their fans.
Good to Know: The hotel is convenient to the T (subway) Green Line, but pay attention to the branch if you’re heading downtown: The line splits at Copley Station, and the hotel is located at the Prudential Station—the first stop on the E Branch.
Loyalty: The hotel is part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Lifestyle Collection and participates in the iPrefer loyalty program.