The D.E.A.L.: Dining, Entertainment, Attractions & Lodging in Philadelphia
by Jeanne Brei
There is an abundance of historical hotels in the “Birthplace of America;” and several are on the National Register of Historic Places, whether they were built as hotels or took over historic buildings. The diverse selection of hotels in Philadelphia’s Historic District (which spans from the Delaware River to 7th Street and from Vine to Lombard Street) includes boutique inns as well as big-brand chains.
The Bellevue Hotel (pictured above and right) is known as the Grande Dame of Broad Street for its French Renaissance architecture and sophisticated interior. Constructed in 1904 by distinguished hotelier George Boldt, who ordered “the most magnificent ballroom in the world, no matter what it cost,” it soon became one of the top luxury accommodations in the U.S. The hotel offers 30,000 sq.ft. of lavish event space, including a recently renovated, 11,616-sq.ft. ballroom with two tiers, parquet flooring, wrought-iron accents and ornate light fixtures designed by Thomas Edison. Also on the National Registry of Historic Places, The Warwick Hotel opened in 1928 with classical and Renaissance features designed by Frank Hahn. The limestone and brick building has welcomed Presidents and celebrities over the years and it’s also the home of The Prime Rib, an acclaimed Philly steakhouse with décor inspired by the 1940s.
The Morris House Hotel was home to the Morris family for more than 120 years, and now invites guests to experience its 17 guest rooms—each with different designs and decor and their original heart pine floors. Just steps from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, this National Historic Landmark built in 1787, with a colonial-style façade and charming outdoor garden, immerses you in America’s history. Another former private residence, the historic Thomas Bond House (pictured left) in Independence National Historical Park, is a restored 1769 bed and breakfast with 12 unique guest rooms. Built by Dr. Bond, a surgeon and a co-founder of the American Philosophical Society and Pennsylvania Hospital, the house was a private residence until 1810. Since then it’s held a stocking factory, leather tannery, rag supplier, customs broker and retail shop until its conversion to a B&B in 1988 by the National Park Service.
The landmark Loews Philadelphia (pictured right) was the first international-style skyscraper in the U.S. At 33 stories, the former Philadelphia Savings Fund Society building is a stunning Art Deco structure. The renovation even kept the Cartier clocks, marble finishes and the three-story banking room—transforming the latter into an event space with the original bank safe. Just steps from City Hall, The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia (pictured left), is situated in the former Girard Trust Bank and Girard Trust Building. Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, the bank building was designed by architect Frank Furness and completed in 1907. The Le Méridien transformed a former YMCA and district attorney’s office renowned for its Georgian Revival architectural details—think ornate woodwork and striking black-and white décor—by blending contemporary furniture with historical details. Guests can enjoy an elegant and historic yet contemporary atmosphere with some of the best views of the city skyline.
As for boutique hotels, the Aloft Philadelphia Downtown (pictured right) took over the 21-story 1925 Liberty Title building next to the Pennsylvania CC and perfectly blends old-time elegance (impressive ceiling design, monumental windows, detailed crown molding and marble flooring) with modern facilities. The Notary Hotel, Autograph Collection occupies the historic 18-story City Hall Annex where residents would go to get documents notarized. Designed by Philip Johnson and built in 1926, the building was designed in the Classical Revival style and has large stone archways on the first floor and columns on the exterior of the building. Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, many of the original details of the building have been preserved inside as well. Lastly, The Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City offers a boutique lifestyle hotel experience in the historic Stephen Girard building. The 236-room property is located in the heart of Philadelphia’s downtown and has been revived with its architectural legacy preserved.
This story originally appeared in the Nov./Dec. 2021 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 65. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_nov-dec_2021