PENNSYLVANIA Travel Guide
Kimpton’s soon-to-be newest property takes us to Pittsburgh, a city we don’t hear much about in terms of its hotel scene. Like its state rival Philadelphia, the Steel City has a history of being a blue-collar town, one not exactly known for luxury and boutique properties. But Philly has certainly changed its ways, so why can’t Pittsburgh?
In October, the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh will open as both Kimpton’s first venture into the city and will look to compete with other traditional luxury hotels in the vicinity, such as the Renaissance, Omni, and Fairmont.
To be located at 6th Avenue and William Penn Place, the Monaco plans to pair the original Beaux Arts architecture of the building with classic Steel City local flavor – think yellow, black, and white colors – throughout nine stories and 248 guestrooms. Rates will start at $219 a night.
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Almost 40 years ago, Rocky put Philadelphia as the mecca for all things boxing and the fitness training that comes with it. Now, Philly's Hotel Monaco wants to continue the boxer's fight with a little help from one of their own.
The hotel's newest fitness initiative, Training Tips with T, calls upon the property's doorman to offer up some workout tips for staying healthy while on the road. Not only is 'T' a welcoming smile when you first step foot through the doors, but he's also a certified personal trainer so we know there's some accuracy behind what he telling us to do.
This six-step, full-body workout allows guests to get their sweat on in the comfort of their hotel room with no equipment required. Since T and the gang know that travelers might be tight on time and still want a tight tummy, the workout takes just 10 minutes to complete. Then you're on your way to see the Liberty Bell. (or devour a cheesesteak)
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One of Philly's Kimpton properties, the Hotel Palomar near Rittenhouse Square, kicked off a Twitter contest today that gives participants a chance to win a VIP “Romp n’ Roll” package, which includes overnight accommodations in the Palomar’s Presidential Suite, a romantic dinner for two at in-house Square 1682’s Chef’s Table, and next-day “Punch Brunch” at Square 1682. The question is: Are you and your honey hot enough to win?
To enter the contest, which is called "Sheets on the Streets," couples must submit their photo to @KimptonInPHL with the hashtags #SheetsontheStreets and #PalomarPhilly by May 1st at 12 a.m. The content of the photo and your level of attractiveness doesn't matter at this point because Kimpton will randomly select ten finalist couples to compete in a pose-off in a pop-up guestroom at the 2014 Rittenhouse Row Festival on Saturday, May 3rd.
This is where your hotness comes into play. The finalists don Kimpton’s signature animal print robes and frolic around the pop-up guestroom, and each couple will be given a half hour to convince festival goers to vote for them on Twitter. The couple that receives the most votes will win the grand prize, and from the looks of the Prez Suite bathroom, shown below, it'd be a hot night for a hot couple.
Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Hotel is known for its killer views and for honoring hometown favorite Grace Kelly with a cocktail in its new lobby bar, opened in the midst of a $10-million, 12-month refurbishment in anticipation of the hotel's upcoming 25th anniversary.
More upgrades aren't far behind, as the hotel announced that its new 15,000 square-foot spa facility, The Rittenhouse Spa & Club – Hair by Paul Labrecque, will open in late summer and contain a spa, health club, and salon.
Surprise surprise, look who's at it again.
The City of Brotherly Love confirmed this week that a third Kimpton Hotels will open in the 73-year-old Family Court Building in the Logan Square neighborhood, joining its already existing properties, the Hotel Palomar in Rittenhouse Square and the Hotel Monaco on Independence Hall.
Despite a traditional reputation as a blue-collar town, Philadelphia has proven that it knows how to pamper its visitors, especially in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, where most of the city's luxury hotels stake their claim. We've already told you about the big names that come with big views, and on our most recent jaunt through Philly, we decided to check in on one of the smaller properties in Rittenhouse, the Latham, which markets itself as a boutique hotel with 139 rooms.
The room you see in the cover photo above is the King Suite. It has a separate living room and two full bathrooms, one off the bedroom and one in the common area (both have mirrors on the ceiling!). Each room at the Latham comes with Keurig coffee makers, large writing desks, Gilcrest & Soames bath products, and fast, free wifi. The hotel guarantees the best rates via its website, and if you find a lower price, it will give you 10% off that lower price.
For those who have recently stayed at the FS Philly or who read our coverage about its killer view of Logan Circle, the word “upgrade” might come as a surprise. Currently, you can see all the way down the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum from many west-facing rooms.
But sources within Philly tell us that the property has “grown stale” after over 30 years, and needs a boost to continue to compete with the city’s booming Center City hotel market, including its luxurious competitors, the Rittenhouse Hotel and the Ritz Carlton, as well as the up and coming midmarket properties in and around Rittenhouse Square and City Hall (like the Kimpton Palomar, for example).
Yesterday, we highlighted three luxury hotels in Philly that have killer views, and one of them, the Rittenhouse Hotel in Center City, is currently in the midst of a $10-million, 12-month refurbishment in anticipation of the hotel's 25th anniversary next year.
The facelift will feature new 1,000 square-foot park-view suites (for some reason, people refer to Rittenhouse Square as "the park") and a new health club. Earlier this year, the hotel opened a lobby bar called the Library, which currently features a Grace Kelly cocktail.
Most are familiar with Grace Kelly as an actress, princess, and public figure, but Philadelphians remember her and her family for their influence on the City of Brotherly Love. Not only was Kelly grow up in Philly, but her mother was the first woman to head up the Physical Education Department at the University of Pennsylvania and her father was an Olympic rower and once ran for mayor of the city. Her brother, John Kelly Jr, was a Philly councilman and was memorialized when East River Drive was renamed Kelly Drive in the 1980s.
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When it comes to the upper echelon of hotels in Philly, there is a common denominator that goes beyond their luxe accommodations and service: Epic views of the city's top landmarks.
Three hotels in particular stand out thanks to their great locations: The Rittenhouse Hotel overlooks Rittenhouse Square (bottom); the Four Seasons Philly provides views of Logan Circle and down the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum (top); and the Ritz Carlton Philly sits right next to City Hall and the infamous perch of William Penn (center).
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Looks like SLS isn't the only new hotel coming to the City of Brotherly love. Philadelphia is getting two brand new luxury hotels -- a W and an Element -- thanks to a $33 million tax break measure passed last week that will allow for construction to begin on a $280 million building in Center City. (W Hotels had hoped to open in Philadelphia way back in 2006 but the project was later scrapped in 2008.)
The measure was opposed by a group of the city's hotel owners, but Mayor Michael Nutter and the city council saw things differently. "It's a big winner for the city," Nutter said. "1,800 construction jobs over a three-year period of time, 450 permanent jobs and a signature headquarters hotel right in the heart of Center City."
The site for the project at 15th and Chestnut, which has been vacant for years, is between City Hall and Rittenhouse Square and a half-mile from the convention center. Competing hotels in the area will be Kimpton's Hotel Palomar, the new Rad Blu (which we dished on a few weeks ago), the Four Seasons on the Ben Franklin Parkway, and the Rittenhouse Hotel, among others.
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The 301-room Raddison Blu Philadelphia just put the finishing touches on its lobby last week (they were literally pressing the letters on the wall during our stay), finalizing its $20 million conversion and celebrating its full opening. Looking for a new hotel to check out in Philly? Here are five things to know before you check in:
2. It's the first repurposed Radisson Blu property in the States: While the aforementioned properties were all new construction, the Rad Blu Philly was the first conversion project, originally opened as the Warwick Hotel in 1926. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means that the exterior and structure of the building could not be altered. The top few floors of the hotel have remained as private residences.
On a recent jaunt to Portugal, we discovered what we thought was a great split-hotel package that allowed guests to experience two sides of the country: A few days in Lisbon and a few days on the south coast soaking up rays. For travelers who are adventurous but still desire structure, the concept takes out a lot of the planning but still leaves you more independence than, say, a full-on "put your bags outside the door before you go to sleep" tour operator type of thing.
Since being introduced to the idea last month, we've been thinking about where this "best of both worlds" partnership might be a good fit in the States. Despite driving distances and train services being what they are in our country in general, we were able to come up with a bunch of places where this type of package could go over well (some of which have tried it at times in the past). Think San Francisco with Napa or Sonoma, Denver with Breckenridge, Park City with Salt Lake, New York City with the Finger Lakes/Hamptons, or Philly with Atlantic City.
We focus on the latter in this column for two reasons: 1) While visitors to San Fran or Denver most likely already have their sights set on wine country and the mountains, we're not sure many realize how close Philly is to the shore and 2) Atlantic City could certainly use a little love these days, and a package that gave city dwellers the chance to check out Atlantic City, a place they've certainly heard about given all the press Revel has attracted the past two years, could help boost tourism.