With its Seventies concrete façade, you could mistake it for a car park. But look again, because The Colonnade fancies itself as one of the smartest hotels in Boston. It calls itself a boutique hotel but the interior is too grand to fit the description. The lobby is all high ceilings, chandeliers, mahogany-clad walls and outsized sofas. The flower arrangements would fill the average living room.
Built almost 40 years ago by Boston businessman Bertram Druker, The Colonnade is now owned by his son Ronald. Over the years it has attracted some starry guests, among them Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine and, more recently, Matt Damon. But the hotel is not resting on its laurels. The appearance of a Mandarin Oriental just a block away, a new W hotel in the Theatre District and a Morgans Hotel in North End, has prompted it to up its game – two years ago it underwent a $20m overhaul that included renovation of the rooms, restaurant and reception area.
Best of all is the addition of a rooftop pool complete with cocktail bar. This glorious spot hosts live music throughout the summer.
And the food? Well, here's the bad news. The art deco-inspired French brasserie, Jo, is apparently award-winning but the food is more Café Rouge than Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons. I ordered smoked salmon, potatoes and horseradish, which arrived as a slither of chewy salmon buried under a mountain of crisps and topped off with a flavourless glob of cream. Discerning diners needn't go hungry, however, as there are plenty of excellent restaurants a short cab ride away.
The hotel is in Boston's chic Back Bay neighbourhood, famed for its expensive housing and designer clothes shops. Just over the road is the Prudential Centre complex, comprising a shopping mall and a cloud-skimming office building that has a public observatory on the top floor from where you can see Boston's harbour islands. Many landmarks are within walking distance of The Colonnade, though there's a subway station, Prudential, a couple of minutes away if you are going further afield.
Where the rooms were once adorned with swirling carpets and brass fittings, they are now dressed in rich browns, calming ecrus and crisp whites. On the bedside table, you'll find an iPod dock, oversize lamp and a digital radio. Marble-veneered bathrooms give the illusion of space.
With The Colonnade's new fixtures and fittings has come an environmental conscience, too: old windows have been replaced with energy-efficient floor-to-ceiling panes from which you can gaze at the Boston rooftops or, if you're on the lower levels, at the shoppers in the stores across the road.
The Colonnade Hotel, 120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, US (001 617 424 7000; colonnadehotel.com ).
Standard rooms start at $259 (£158) per night, including breakfast.