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Where to Stay in Philadelphia: Best Areas & Hotels, 2019

Written by Frances J. Folsom and Carri Wilbanks
Feb 26, 2019

Where to stay in Philadelphia may depend on your person interests. With its narrow cobblestone streets, this 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), which goes beyond the city limits to the various neighborhoods and even out to the airport.

If it's high-end shopping, luxury hotels, and cultural venues you want, Rittenhouse Square at 18th and Walnut Streets makes a great base whether you are booking for the family or a romantic vacation. 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.

For 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

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 hotels in Philadelphia. Before you start your day of exploring enjoy a warm stone massage in the spa or 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 Downtown 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

If you are a fan of 18th-century Federal-style architecture and looking for a hotel offer good value, 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 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.

In the Chestnut Hill neighborhood just outside downtown, the historic Chestnut Hill Hotel is a charming boutique property within walking distance of a popular local farmers market in summer. The vibe in the rooms and suites is a mix of 18th-century period decor and contemporary style, and the service is excellent. Amenities include a free continental breakfast, as well as some truly varied on-site dining choices for other meals — one restaurant here serves gourmet French fare, another does affordable Chinese.

Where to Stay on a Budget

Center City view

Center City view

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 being good value, Rodeway Inn Center City other pluses 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

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.

Where to Stay for Families

University of Pennsylvania building

Families looking for a centrally located, mid-range hotel will like The Windsor Suites. This property features apartment-style suites with separate living spaces and full kitchens. A few come with balconies, although the views are off a busy freeway. On-site amenities include a rooftop swimming pool with views across Philly and a fitness room, open 24/7. There is also a Chinese restaurant in the lobby.

In the vibrant University City neighborhood, which is filled with restaurants and shops, The Study at University City is another family favorite. This minimalist luxe hotel offers a number of different styles of rooms including studios, which come with kitchenettes and dining space. Or book one of the even larger suites with separate living rooms featuring sleeper sofas. On-site amenities include public lounging spaces like the Living Room, where you'll find comfy seating and a cafe. There is also a well-equipped gym and an art gallery focusing on local artists.

Just two blocks from Rittenhouse Square, the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia is also in an excellent location for sightseeing. In an Art Deco-style historic building, this boutique hotel is stylish and chic. The hotel prides itself on being kid- and pet-friendly, and rooms and suites are modern and comfortable. On-site amenities include a restaurant cooking up farm-to-table fare, a 24-hour workout room, and a hot tub.

Finally, families should check out The Inn at Penn, A Hilton Hotel, which is especially convenient if you're in town to visit a child at the University of Pennsylvania — the property is on the campus. The hotel offers a mix of rooms and suites, all featuring contemporary furnishings and comfy beds. Staff is friendly, and everything is tidy. Away from the rooms there is an Italian restaurant, a gym, and paid parking on-site.

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