The Back Bay neighborhood is home to so much of what makes Boston a world-class city. You're a quick walk from legendary Fenway Park, the seemingly endless blocks of Newbury Street's boutique shopping, the Skywalk Observatory atop Prudential Center, stunning emerald ribbons of parkland bordering the Charles River, and inventive dining helmed by a growing community of star chefs.
It's hard to imagine but fair to say that well into the early 1970s, demolition permits for much of what you now see far outnumbered shoppers and tourists walking the streets. The Charles River was literally an open sewer and skid row living conditions snuffed out blocks of classic brownstones once home to tight knit ethnic enclaves.
The Colonnade Hotel opened in 1971 on the corner of Huntington Ave. and West Newton Street as a definitive catalyst for the neighborhood's renaissance. Sleek towering pillars of concrete girded by floor to ceiling windows designed and built by Bertram Druker rise 12 stories above the surrounding architecture to the back of the property built more than a century earlier. Still owned by the Druker family today, The Colonnade is a distinct rarity in Boston's increasingly chain dominated hotel scene.
Walking through the spotless plate-glass front doors attended by congenial door staff, you enter a marble floored lobby outfitted with clusters of plush seating to either side, and straight ahead a circular wooden table inlaid with a detailed and colorful map depicts both historic and present-day Boston.
Past guests like Whitney Houston, Ronald Reagan, Dean Martin, Harry Connick Jr., Val Kilmer, and Matt Damon are testament to The Colonnade's panache - further enhanced in 2008 by the property's latest $25 million renovation.
Timeless elegance persists in many amenities like the rooftop pool and onsite Brasserie Jo, while perks have been added over time like a courtesy Audi SUV for situations when Uber won't cut it and a “VIPets” package that hooks your fluffy friend up with a pet bed, bowl, selection of three brands of food, and a map outlining dog parks and restaurants where they can stay by your side when it's time for you to eat.
All 285 rooms in this Preferred Hotels' Lifestyle Collection Hotel start out at a roomy 350 square feet, enhanced by floor-to-ceiling windows that not only flood your living space with natural light but open for fresh air when desired. For more stretch-out space, book one of their 700-sq.-ft. Parlor Suites, outfitted with a single king or two doubles with a separate living/dining room and two bathrooms or their even larger 950-sq.-ft. Luxe Suite.
Executive chef Nick Calias is in charge here and strikingly blends the latest culinary techniques with classic French bistro fare at Boston’s first authentic French brasserie, opening in 1998. “Boston’s chef community's strength is rooted in our diverse backgrounds and love of cooking,” says Calias.
Perfecting his craft in Brasserie Jo's kitchen for nearly a decade now, Calias has a passion for building the finest dishes with the freshest ingredients. Favorites include grilled lemon chicken paillard, chicken coq au vin, mussels Riesling marinière, and Alsace brioche bread pudding.
Styled after a typical 1940s French bistro, the restaurant's mosaic-tile flooring, dark wood furnishings, and a strikingly eclectic mix of vintage art prints and paintings on the walls invite you to gather either in the dining rooms or at their vintage bar serving up seasonally changing craft made oversized martinis, Alsatian-style beers, and an extensive wine list.
Twelve stories above the streets of Boston, The Colonnade's rooftop, open Memorial to Labor Day, features the city's only publicly accessible rooftop pool. Billowing white cabanas available for private rental and outfitted with plush outdoor sofas and chairs are ensconced along one side of the rooftop railing with spectacular views of historic South Boston. Look across the pool from this vantage point and you get a decidedly more modern backdrop of gleaming skyscrapers.
Comfortably chic lounge chair seating on the bamboo-floored main deck, lush plantings, and a full service 12-seat bar serves up three types of house-made sangria and seasonal specialty cocktails along with light bites like grilled swordfish tacos, RTP lobster roll, petite pearl hot dogs, and bifteki sliders.
Ongoing poolside activities include twice-weekly complimentary pre-breakfast “sunrise salutation” yoga classes with esteemed in house yogi Rebecca Pacheco and a guest chef pop-up series roofTop Chefs hosted by executive chef Nick Calias.
Debuting this summer, a lineup of the city's top chefs who also happen to be Calias's friends share their latest creations like Tiger Mama's Tiffani Faison's crispy curried Singapore street noodles and Malaysian short rib rendang, Southeast Asian delectables normally only available from her restaurant's open kitchen.
Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored visit. Photos: The Colonnade and Steve Mirsky