And doing it in style at The Colonnade in the Back Bay
By Walter & Patricia Brooks
Yes, we know, it's been a mild winter on Cape Cod, but it's still good for your soul to "rub hide with the herd" in a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city like Boston, especially if you can borrow your grand-kids for company.
As bucolic as life can be here, it's equally important to expose our children to the "real world" across the canal, and we're lucky to have as charming a city as Boston for these lessons in life.
There are enough museums and kid-friendly events in our state capital to last a lifetimes of weekends, and what better time of year than when The Cape is least welcoming.
All this an hour over the bridge
The Big Dig has cut down the time it takes to get to the heart of the Back Bay, and The Colonnade is strategically situated between Neiman Marcus and Sax Fifth Avenue on Huntington Street within sight of the Christian Science "Mother Church".
The area is an enclave of exclusive shops, galleries and restaurants, just minutes from everything.
The hotel is directly across the street from the Prudential Center Shops and the Hynes Convention Center. Literally across the street from Sax Fifth Avenue and the Newbury Street boutiques and Copley Square are all within easy walking distance.
It is also convenient to Boston's landmark attractions like Symphony Hall, Fenway Park, and The Colonnade Hotel is only a short taxi ride away from the financial district, the Museum of Fine Arts, Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, and the Freedom Trail, all "must see sights" for young Boston visitors.
This is a very "child-friendly" city and our two favorite spots for tots are the Children's Museum and the Science Museum, both in the heart of town. We managed to spend the whole day exploring each, with a lunch break as the Science Museum's cafeteria and forty-five minutes at their new Omni Theater show, Amazon.
When Julia Childs was young
The hotel's restaurant is a touch of Paris in the Back Bay. It's rare to find as warm and relaxed dining with this elevated level of cuisine. Brasserie JO has one of those menus which makes to want to come back until you've sampled half the fare.
I recall when French cooking first came to America. Around 1950 my mother took me to a new restaurant in New York called the CafÃ© Brittany on the west side in mid-town where I tasted my first Coq Au Vin.
Bistros started popping up in New York just before World War II, when immigrants from France, particularly Brittany and the Pyrenees, began trickling in. The large passenger ships would dock on the West Side, and the French settled close by. The West 40's to the West 60's from Eighth Avenue to 10th Avenue was largely French for decades.
This was simple and marvelous French country cooking, and I haven't tasted its like for decades until my dinner at Brasserie JO.
Of course Boston's own Julia Childs educated the rest of America about Haute Cuisine, and food on this side of The Atlantic has never been the same - thank God!
The menu here has many old favorites mingled with their own inventions. The SautÃ©ed Skate Wings and their Famous Shrimp Bag are memorable, but the best was yet to come.
A passion for the sweet life
The desserts were the piÃ¨ce de rÃ©sistance. While the Signature Dessert is Profiteroles, everything we tasted was marvelous., and the room itself was quite beautiful.
The Colonnade Hotel has 285 beautifully appointed guest rooms, including 9 luxurious suites. Each room is decorated in a contemporary European style and is technologically equipped with a two-line speakerphone, a fax/modem line, High Speed wired and wireless Internet connection, voicemail, a bathroom phone, individual climate control, and a television with over 25 channels and a large on-demand movie selection.
Amenities and nearby attractions
The premiere guest rooms and suites feature bathrooms that are luxuriously appointed in gray marble and white porcelain with clean, straight lines.
The pedestal sink and classic handles have a charming old-fashioned look while a rolling cart offers the finest in beauty care products. guest rooms feature comfort amenities complete with plush lounging robes, laundry and valet service, iron and board, overnight shoe shine service and daily newspaper delivery. Hair dryers, a phone and your very own Rubber Duckie are standard in each bathroom.
The hotel is across Huntington Avenue from several good restaurants including The Cheesecake factory (which the children will love) and a one block walk to a dozen more on Newbury Street.
The Colonnade is a block from the famous Boston Duck Tours which are narrated by "conDUCKtors" well-versed in Boston's lore and legend, these unique 80-minute tours combine a land view of the city and a splash into the Charles River, and a dozen other attractions can be considered by clicking here.