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Where to Stay in Philadelphia: Best Areas & Hotels

Philadelphia, with its narrow cobblestone streets, is one of America's most walkable cities. Streets are laid out on a flat grid, with many of them meeting at right angles with other streets. Even though walking is the primary way to get around, there is an excellent public transit system (SEPTA) that goes beyond the city limits to the various neighborhoods and even out to the airport.

If it's high-end shopping, luxurious hotels, and cultural venues you want, Rittenhouse Square at 18th and Walnut Streets makes a great base. The square was laid out in 1682 by the city's founder, William Penn. Today, it is surrounded by five-star hotels, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Mutter Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

If your interest is history, it's best to stay in the Old City neighborhood, where everything leading up to, during, and after the American Revolution took place. Historic sites here include Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Pavilion, and the National Constitution Center.

Center City is, basically, Philadelphia's downtown, bordered by South Street and the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers on its east and west sides respectively. Rittenhouse Square, the Old City, and Chinatown are just a few of the neighborhoods that are part of Center City.

Where to Stay for Luxury

Philadelphia Skyline
Philadelphia Skyline
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Located across the street from City Hall, The Ritz Carlton, Philadelphia, with its knockout rotunda lobby, Egyptian cotton linens, in-room Nespresso machines, and rooms with views over the city is the crème de la crème of luxury. Before you start your day of exploring Philadelphia enjoy a warm stone massage in the spa. Take advantage of the complimentary overnight shoe shine service.

The Rittenhouse Hotel overlooking pretty Rittenhouse Square is the recipient of the GreenLeaders Silver award for its environmental awareness. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, a pool, fitness room, and full-service spa.

If there are decorative glass coffee pots and tea pots hanging from the ceilings, you are in the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. Housed in a 19th-century building in the Old City, this luxury Art Deco boutique hotel is surrounded by Independence Hall, the Museum of the American Revolution, and the Liberty Bell, along with several other historic attractions.

Also in Center City, the Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square is easily recognizable by the giant red, blue, and silver mural on the outside of the building. That color scheme is continued throughout the guest rooms. The hotel hosts changing exhibits of works by local artists in their in-house art gallery.

Where to Stay for the Best Value

Street view of Old City
Street view of Old City
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If you are a fan of 18th-century Federal-style architecture, the Morris House Hotel will dazzle you. The house dates to 1787 and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Rooms are light-filled and airy with high ceilings. Sip a cup of tea or a glass of wine in the serene courtyard away from the noises of the Old City. The Morris House may be centuries old but it has some of the bells and whistles of the 21st century: LG flat screen televisions and complimentary wireless internet. The Best Western Plus Independence Park Hotel, also in the Old City, includes a full breakfast in its room rate, discounted parking, and free Wi-Fi. The Doubletree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City has suites and studio rooms with sleeper sofas as well as kitchenettes with microwaves and convection ovens. This family-oriented hotel has an indoor pool, and its restaurant offers a children's menu.

Where to Stay on a Budget

Center City view
Center City view
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The Alexander Inn is situated on the quiet side of Center City, six blocks from the historic attractions of Old City. Its 48 rooms are simple but stylish. Guests serve themselves from the generous breakfast buffet.

If you want to be within walking distance of Chinatown, book into the Sleep Inn Center City offering clean, no-frills rooms with coffee makers and microwaves. There is a reasonably-priced parking lot next door. Besides the monetary value of the Rodeway Inn Center City, other pluses here are the mini kitchens in each room, parking garage across the street, and its close proximity to attractions. Sports fans favor it because it's near Citizens Bank Park, the Wells Fargo Center, and Lincoln Financial Field.

Where to Stay for Romance

Cherry blossoms along the Schuylkill River
Cherry blossoms along the Schuylkill River
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Housed in a 19th-century brick row house, on a tree-lined street near Rittenhouse Square, La Reserve Center City Bed and Breakfast exudes stately charm. The Victorian décor is understated and gracious, and it's a serene place to come back to after a day of sightseeing or a romantic evening horse-drawn carriage ride around the square.

In the University City neighborhood in West Philadelphia, amid the campuses of Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, is the Cornerstone Bed and Breakfast. Step inside to the gleaming, original 19th-century woodwork, hardwood floors, and an abundance of stained-glass windows. The six guest rooms are done in soothing shades of tans, blues, and greens. All have flat-screen televisions and complimentary wireless internet. Nearby are several cultural institutions: the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Academy of Natural Sciences.

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