The Colonnade Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Renovated, spacious rooms with comfy beds
  • Across the street from Hynes Convention Center
  • Bright fitness center with South End views
  • City's only rooftop pool, with dining service
  • Affordable French brasserie
  • No charge for pets

Cons

  • Room service isn't 24 hours
  • No valet parking; self-parking is pricey
  • Pricey business center
  • Fee for Wi-Fi

Bottom Line

Boasting the city's only rooftop pool, this 285-room Back Bay hotel offers spacious standard rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, a fitness center with South End views, and an affordable French brasserie. Score a cheap rate, and it's worth it -- despite the lack of 24-hour room service and the daily Wi-Fi charge.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

With a convenient location across from Hynes Convention Center and the Prudential Center mall, big standard rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and a fitness center overlooking South End, the Colonnade has even more going for it than the city's only rooftop pool.

The bar at Brasserie Jo
The bar at Brasserie Jo

A rare amenity even in the biggest of cities (L.A., New York), the rooftop hotel pool becomes virtually nonexistent in Boston. This 285-room Back Bay boutique boasts Boston's one and only. Book a room here from Memorial to Labor Day, and you'll have the unique opportunity to swim and to drink daiquiris with a 12th-floor view of quaint old New England.

There's plenty to recommend this hotel during the other eight months of the year as well. It's just across the street from the Prudential Center mall and the Hynes Convention Center, but feels more sedate and farther removed from the convention madness than surrounding chains like Hilton Boston Back Bay, Marriott Copley Plaza, and Sheraton Boston. The spacious 350-square-foot standard rooms are bigger than those you'd find at competitors like the Lenox or Back Bay Hotel -- and thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that actually open, they have a more airy, sunny feel. Following a $25-million renovation in May 2008, standard rooms come outfitted with sleek new light-wood furniture, rainfall showerheads in the bathtubs, comfortable Sealy pillow-top mattresses, and 37-inch flat-screens with free Starz and Encore. Once regarded as a dowdy, flower-assaulted throwback to the '80s, the lobby now features a stately marble front desk that stands out amid handsome espresso-hued interiors and brass accents.

Even so, the Colonnade falls a bit short in service and extra frills. A bell staff assists with luggage, and there's poolside dining when the rooftop is open, but contrary to what is stated on the hotel website, 24-hour room service is a thing of the past -- it now ends by midnight. And don't be fooled into thinking the tempting blue Smart Cars outside the lobby are there to shuttle you to nearby destinations -- they're for PR promotion only (and for the staff to fetch an occasional guest request). Compare this with the similarly priced Lenox -- with its 24-hour room service, nightly turndown, and brochure of snacks available upon request. In the chillier months, the Lenox and Back Bay Hotel have cozy fireplaces in the lobby or bar; not so at the Colonnade.

You may give up a few things here, but if you're traveling with kids or you're a fitness buff, it's not a bad choice. Huge rooms (with free cribs and rollaways) have plenty of space. The 1,000-square-foot fitness center is packed with mint-condition Precor equipment and boasts views of the charming brick townhouses of Boston's South End. And did we mention the pool?

 Service

Efficient, but no frills; room service ends at midnight

Those Smart cars aren't for you
Those Smart cars aren't for you

There's efficient, but not extensive, service at the Colonnade. Guests get a few more features at area competitors.

  • No valet parking -- just self-parking at a costly per night fee
  • No 24-hour room service like at Lenox or Back Bay Hotel
  • Those Smart cars parked out front aren't for guest use or free rides.
  • Porters help with luggage and directions; concierge is on call until the evening to help with directions or reservations.
  • Poolside drink and food service (breakfast, lunch, and cocktails), when the pool is open.

 Location

In tiny Back Bay, just across from the Hynes Convention Center and Prudential Center mall

As a developed and upscale commercial and residential area in the center of the city, Back Bay offers a little bit of everything, from luxury shopping on Newbury Street to baseball at nearby Fenway Park. Office workers toil away in the area's high-rise buildings, some of Boston's tallest, while business travelers convene for conferences at the Hynes Convention Center.

The Colonnade is situated just across the street from the Prudential Center mall and Hynes. It's ideal for conventioneers who want to escape from the day's madness, as it feels a bit more sedate and removed than nearby big chain hotels like the Marriott Copley Place, Sheraton Boston, and Westin (it helps that, unlike them, it's not directly connected to the convention center).

  • The Prudential Center stop on the T (Boston's subway) is right outside the door.
  • About a six-minute drive, or 20 to 30 minute walk, to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
  • About a five-minute drive, or 20 minute walk, to the Boston Common, the country's oldest park and the start of the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, which passes through 16 of the city's historic landmarks
  • An eight-minute drive (two miles) to Faneuil Hall, a historic marketplace and modern-day mall
  • About a 15-minute drive (three miles) to Harvard Square in Cambridge
  • A 20-minute drive to Boston's Logan International Airport

 Rooms

Big and renovated in mid-2008, with 37-inch flat-screens and pillow-top mattresses

Newly renovated rooms with pillow-top mattresses
Newly renovated rooms with pillow-top mattresses

Following a $25-million renovation in May 2008, the spacious 350-square-foot standard rooms now come outfitted with sleek new light-wood furniture, a dining table and chairs (in lieu of a desk), rainfall showerheads in the bathtubs, comfortable Sealy pillow-top mattresses, and 37-inch flat-screens with DVD players. Floor-to-ceiling windows that open make the rooms here feel lighter and airier than those at Back Bay Hotel or Lenox -- and it also helps that they're significantly bigger.

  • Standard 350-square-foot rooms (called Luxe Rooms) come with a single king or two double beds; 700-square-foot Parlor Suites (single king or two doubles) come with a separate living/dining room and two bathrooms. Although larger, the 950-square-foot Luxe Suite (just a king bed) has a separate living/dining area and only one bathroom.
  • 37-inch, LG flat-screens and Zenith DVD players are standard in all rooms; no DVD library on-site (guests will have to go to nearby grocery, Shaws, to rent); fantastic number of TV channels -- about 60 -- including five Starz movie channels and five Encore movie channels; pay-per-view is apparently in place here, but it wasn't working in my room.
  • Sharper Image radio/clock/MP3 player
  • A comfortable, if not supremely luxurious, bed: a Sealy pillow-top mattress with garden-variety Sobella by Sobel Westex sheets and an insane number of pillows (on my twin bed alone: four duck down pillows, two large throw pillows and one suede accent pillow); convenient small reading lights are attached to the attractive blond wooden headboard.
  • Bathrooms have vanity with marble countertop, rainfall showerhead with good water pressure, and Colonnade's trademark yellow rubber ducky. Toiletries are unexciting Gilchrist and Soames -- sadly, no upgraded Korres or Aveda toiletries like at Back Bay or Lenox.
  • No free bottled water here, unlike at Lenox or Back Bay, but it does have the minibar that the other two lack; minibar has usual mini bottles of Ketel One and Bombay Sapphire, Snickers and M&Ms, plus Dean & Deluca nut selections.
  • Keurig individual-cup coffeemaker with Green Mountain and Tully's Coffee, Celestial Seasonings tea.

 Features

Top-notch fitness center, plus Boston's only rooftop pool

The fitness center with views of the South End
The fitness center with views of the South End

Airy and light-filled, Colonnade's 5th-floor fitness center features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the charming brick townhouses of Boston's South End, so you never have that toiling-away-in-a-basement feel you can get at say, the dark Lenox or Back Bay gyms. But the business center and in-room Wi-Fi here aren't free.

  • 1,000-square-foot free fitness center with all new-looking Precor cardio equipment and Icarian strength-training machines. No individual TV monitors, but the room has five flat-screen TVs; water cooler, a bowl of apples, and copies of Boston magazine are on hand.
  • Boston's only rooftop pool, open from Memorial to Labor Day; poolside dining and drinks from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., free lounge chairs and towels, and frequent outdoor concerts in the summer (Jewel and David Gray have played in the past). The pool opens to nonguests on the weekend for a per day fee, so expect more of a crowd.
  • Daily Wi-Fi fee
  • 24-hour business center behind the concierge desk charges per minute to use the two Dell computers an per page to print from the Dell Laser printers.
  • On-site, affordable French bistro
  • Free newspapers (Boston Globe, New York Times) available only upon request

 Pet-Friendly

Pets stay for free.

There's no charge or deposit for pets to stay here -- but don't expect any free amenities like dog bowls or treats. Pets of any size are welcome.

 Family

Big rooms and a pool work well for families.

Minibars with the usual snacks, plus extras
Minibars with the usual snacks, plus extras

The Colonnade is ideal for families, with 350-square-foot standard rooms large enough to accommodate a crib or rollaway, children's room service and restaurant menus, and a rooftop pool open in the summer.

  • Parents should think about booking a 700-square-foot Luxe with two double beds (sleeps four), or a 950-square-foot Parlor Suite with two double beds and a pullout couch (sleeps six).
  • Free cribs and rollaway beds
  • Rooftop pool open in summer
  • Minifridges can be put in the room for free (just ask); minibar has usual snacks like Snickers and M&Ms, plus Dean & Deluca nut selections.
  • Children's room service includes a separate breakfast and lunch/dinner menu. Breakfast entrees like silver dollar pancakes, scrambled eggs, and oatmeal with brown sugar; lunch and dinner entrees of grilled cheese and fries, mac and cheese, and chicken fingers
  • Just a five- to six-minute drive to both Fenway Park (home of the Boston Red Sox) and the Boston Common (the 52-acre park that's the start of the Freedom Trail)

 Food

On-site affordable and popular French bistro

Colonnade's popular Brasserie Jo
Colonnade's popular Brasserie Jo

Colonnade's Brasserie Jo is no question one of the hotel's greatest selling points. An offshoot of the James-Beard-award-winning original in Chicago, this casual French bistro stays open not only for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but for light afternoon and late-night snacks. It was voted "Best Business Lunch" by Boston magazine in 2000.

  • Offers a particularly fantastic and affordable selection of breakfast entrees. Full American and continental Parisian breakfasts, and breakfast entrees like tarte flambé with egg and onion, chocolate French toast with almonds, and homemade granola with yogurt.
  • Quick two-course lunch special. Regular lunch sandwiches like croque monsieur; lunch entrees like mussels mariniere and steak frites.
  • Dinner entrees such as choucroute, duck confit, and roasted rack of lamb. Hit up the diner-counter-like bar for food till 1 a.m. -- and try the house specialty, tarte flambés (Alsatian-style pizza).

 Cleanliness

Renovated in 2008 and mostly spotless

With a renovation completed in May 2008, the room furniture and carpets are beautiful and new. Hallways could be in better condition, however. I saw some nicked armoires and chinks in the elevator wood. But all areas were dust- and mildew-free.

 Bottom Line

Boasting the city's only rooftop pool, this 285-room Back Bay hotel offers spacious standard rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, a fitness center with South End views, and an affordable French brasserie. Score a cheap rate, and it's worth it -- despite the lack of 24-hour room service and the daily Wi-Fi charge.

Things You Should Know About The Colonnade Hotel

Address

  • 120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02116

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Colonnade Hotel
  • Colonnade Hotel Boston

Room Types

  • Luxury Room
  • Luxury Suite
  • Parlor Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 285
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Back Bay, Boston
Address: 120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02116
(See Map)
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