PA Travel Guide
It's that time of year again: the 2013 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
With so much great hotel news to choose from, narrowing the entire year down to one city was by no means easy. The Big Apple is forever in the running with all its hotel activity year in and year out, and Denver made an awful lot of noise out west as this year came to a close, projecting large growth and several big projects for 2014. And we can't forget London and Paris too where there were not just new hotels opening, but plenty of renovations (several of which will be revealed next year.) Even Down Under in Sydney we saw a bit more activity than we have in past years.
But this year's shocking big winner is Philadelphia. The city's hotel scene sometimes gets lost in the mix behind busier cities like New York and Chicago, but Philly has really impressed us from all angles this year, from its line of luxury hotels (that all sport iconic views) to the way it spruced up Old City with a Kimpton property that overlooks the Liberty Bell.
While the newly-opened Rad Blu lived up to the hype, we are most pleased with how the city's plans are falling into place on a whole, and we feel it is now reaping the rewards of its good decisions the past two years.
[Photo: Visit Philly]
Hotel News / Hotel Hype / SLS Hotels / Philadelphia Hotels / Sam Nazarian / Dranoff Properties / → All Tags
Something lovely's starting in Philadelphia--an SLS Hotel.
We first heard mention that hotelier Sam Nazarian's SLS brand would open in Philadelphia over the summer when SLS announced expansion plans in China and subtly dropped a list of future U.S. locations that included Philly. Today, the company is going public with the plans, partnering with Dranoff Properties to open the 47-story SLS International Hotel and Reisdences at the intersection of Broad and Spruce Streets in Center City, directly across from the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
(Apparently, there's already an SLS Philadelphia, a Spanish Language School, but Carl Dranoff told the Philadelphia Inquirer the International name is also an homage to the Philadelphia International Records building, home to the birthplace of Philadelphia Sound and the site of the new SLS hotel.)
Cyber Monday Hotels / Cyber Monday Hotel Deals / Radisson Blu Hotels / Philadelphia Hotels / Room Rate Gimmics / Hotel Deals / → All Tags
Black Friday and Cyber Monday always brings out the crazy in people. We've all seen the reports of people fighting at the store for discounted merchandise and of people staying up until midnight in front of their computers to drop items into their virtual shopping carts. But today's Cyber Monday promotion offered by the Radisson Blu Warwick in Philadelphia has people up in arms for a very good reason.
The hotel's Cyber Monday deal, one of our favorites in our ultimate guide, promised "newly redesigned business class rooms for just $19.26, the year the historic hotel opened." The deal would only be available for 24 hours or until the deal sold out. But when many folks signed on to get the deal at midnight, it was already sold-out. So what in the world happened?
A tipster let us know that the hotel had put up an incorrect auto-populated code of STEAL when it was really CYBER, thus not allowing people to book the rooms. The hotel's booking link is now saying CYBER but an upset Facebook fan posted a screengrab of the wrong code on the Radisson Blu's Facebook page. Oops. You can read more of the angry Facebook reactions if you dare.
The good news is that the deal is still very much valid.
Hotel Openings / Hotel Opening Rates / Casino Hotels / Poconos Hotels / Mohegan Sun Hotels / Hotel News / → All Tags
The Mohegan Sun at Poconos Downs in Pennslyvania has been open for seven years now but tonight the casino is finally hitting the jackpot--with a 238-room, seven-story hotel and spa.
Room options at the new hotel range from standard king and double queen guest rooms to king suites and king and queen bay suites. But no matter the room category, all rooms come equipped with iPad minis which feature in-room dining menus and ordering systems as well as a function to control the TV and also to read newspaper downloads and browse the internet. Plus, the hotel is promising "lightning fast" WiFi. Best of all, it's free. Um, yeah, we're not so sure people are going to leave the room for a while. They might want to spend time fooling around...with the iPad.
While the hotel is opening tonight (the Spa Sapphire will debut next month), we couldn't find rooms available on their website until November 19th for $139 a night. Seems a little pricey for mid-week but unlike Vegas, there is no $25 resort fee. Fun fact: one of HotelChatter's very first reviews 10 YEARS AGO was of the Mohegan Sun Hotel in Connecticut.
[Photo: Mohegan Sun]
Ace Hotels / Pittsburgh Hotels / Hotel Hype / Hotel News / Hotel Indigo Hotels / Kimpton Hotels / → All Tags
Things are really looking up for Pittsburgh. The Pirates are in the MLB playoffs for the first time in 21 years and now an Ace Hotel is in the works! (Ok, there is definitely way more happening in Pittsburgh but this is what hotel nerds like us get excited about.)
That's right. Ace Hotels is keeping on with their expansion plans well into 2014 and Pittsburgh is next on the list. In typical Ace fashion, they will open the hotel out of an old YMCA building in the East Liberty nabe. Here's how Next American City journalist Nancy Scola described the location:
[T]the Ace is planned for East Liberty, part of Pittsburgh’s East End, once home to the Carnegies, the Mellons, the Fricks. East Liberty was once, well, hopping, but it was decimated as the result of an urban revitalization push in the 1950s and 1960s that attempted to turn the neighborhood into a little bit of suburbia right there in Pittsburgh. East Liberty is, inarguably, on the upswing once again. And the possibility is that an Ace in the neighborhood’s charming old YMCA building adds considerable weight to that momentum.
Hotel Openings / Philadelphia Hotels / Home2 Suites / Extended Stay Hotels / Hotel News / → All Tags
We've been keeping a close eye on the fast expansion of Hilton's Home2Suites brand, a hip extended stay concept, but their newest hotel in Philadelphia (the 20th overall for the brand) has us crazy excited.
We first wrote about the property back in 2011. Back then, all we knew was that the hotel would have all of the Home2 Suite brand standards such as a kitchenette, free WiFi, free breakfast and an iPad docking station. Fast forward two years and the Home2 Suites is way more than that.
Located at 1200 Arch Street in Center City near the convention center, Home2 Suites has "distinctive Philadelphia and urban flair" with natural woodwork, quarried wall stone and and oversized historical Philly map in the lobby. We also love that the hotel features an energy-efficient roof, chairs made from recycled Coke bottles and tables made from recycled bowling alley lanes. All in all it has 248 guestrooms, making it the largest Home2 Suite hotel yet.
Philadelphia Hotels / Hotel Hype / Fairmont Hotels / Luxury Collection Hotels / Kimpton Hotels / Hotel Development / → All Tags
Just yesterday we heard that Philadelphia would be getting a hip SLS Hotel and now today, we hear the City of Brotherly Love may get a new luxury hotel too. But first, a few hotel brands are duking it out to see who will win the gig.
Philly.com reports that a group of developers are working to transform the the 72-year-old Family Court building at 18th and Vine Streets. Each developer has paired up with a hotel brand. In the race for the property are, Fairmont Hotels, Starwood's Luxury Collection Hotels and Kimpton Hotels.
Fairmont's proposed project would cost $180 million, include 332 hotel rooms,44,000 square feet of event and meeting space. restaurants, bar, shops and a spa. The Luxury Collection would put forth 267 hotel rooms; a 4,000-square-foot ballroom; 10,000 square feet of meeting facilities; and a restaurant and bar while Kimpton's project would cost $85 million with 199 hotel rooms, a 3,500-square-foot ballroom; meeting and board rooms; spa and fitness center; and restaurant and bar.
Though it's only been open several months, Hotel Monaco Philly is already the hottest ticket in town, as far as rooftops are concerned. The hotel's 11th floor Stratus has become legendary for its outdoor patio, indoor bar, two private lounge areas, and outdoor fireplace*.
Most days of the week, it's possible to head up to Stratus, enjoy a few cocktails and be on your merry way. But the lines to get in on Friday and Saturday can get pretty long, and once you enter the bar, it can be difficult just finding a seat.
As a result, Monaco will soon start issuing membership cards just to access the bar. We heard from an employee that a designated number of seats will be set aside each night for card-holders. Of course, hotel guests get priority automatically, but when it comes to random people walking in off the street, Stratus members will definitely have the upper hand.
A man is dead, and one hurt after a shooter opened fire on rapper French Montana’s tour bus outside of the Holiday Inn Express on Penn's Landing late last night. We hope this isn’t the hotel HC just wrote about that recently opened. If so the property certainly isn’t off to a good start!
French, the man behind the popular club and radio banger “Pop That” had just finished a show at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia and was not hurt.
According to NBC Philadelphia News, when the artists’ tour bus arrived around midnight on Christopher Columbus Boulevard near the Holiday Inn Express where he and his group had rooms reserved, a crowd formed outside the bus. A car then pulled up and opened fire on the crowd, hitting a 27-year-old man in the abdomen and a 29-year-old man in the shoulder, according to Chief Inspector Scott Small.
Hotel Openings / Hotel News / Pennsylvania Hotels / Philadelphia Hotels / IHG Hotels / Holiday Inn Express Hotels / → All Tags
The Holiday Inn Express at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia is now officially open for business after a four-million dollar renovation converted the property over from a Comfort Inn. All 184 guest rooms were retouched while the lobby was completely remodeled. A business center and exercise room were also added.
We told you before how we were a little disappointed that the area didn't draw a sexier hotel, but that all said, it doesn't change how good the location is. In addition to the views of the Ben Franklin Bridge, guests of the Holiday Inn Express will be in good shape when it comes to visiting Independence Mall, Old City, and Penn's Landing -- all are within walking distance or a short cab ride. The area is also prime lodging during the summer when concerts are held at Festival Pier or across the river in Camden (you can take a ferry right to the venue).
Here's what the new hotel looks like now according to its website, but we'll try to swing by soon and check it out for ourselves.
UPDATE: We've just heard from the hotel that despite the website's date of November 1st the hotel will open now on October 2nd. Guests looking to stay the night can do so starting October 15th. Reservations for the 15th should open up later today on the hotel's website. Woohoo!
Aside from allowing you to share your current thoughts, stalk old lovers, post party pics, ooo and aww at photos of pets and babies and suffer through random political rantings, Facebook can actually be pretty useful when you're planning your next hotel stay--especially if you're like us and always want to stay in the newest spots.
Just last week we saw that the Hotel Monaco Philadelphia is getting closer to opening after they posted a pic of the front desk and lobby area. But while we thought the posting meant the September opening was still on track, we were a little dismayed when we headed over to the website and found that we are going to have to wait until November 1 now. We guess those pretty rooms need a little longer getting ready.
Hotel Woes / Hotel Crime / Hotel Drugs / Hampton Inns / Philadelphia Hotels / Convention Hotels / Hotel Evacuations / → All Tags
Great, now we have a new thing to worry about that could potentially be killing us in our hotel room—or at least making things really uncomfortable.
A 26--year-old man has been arrested for setting up a makeshift "shake-and-bake" meth lab in his third-floor room at the Hampton Inn Philadelphia Center City.
But to make matters worse, Homeland Security chief Joe Sullivan tells Philly.com that this new practice of contaminating your hotel room with dozens of toxic chemicals while manufacturing methamphetamine is actually becoming a "popular" thing to do.