‘Philly’ as Pennsylvania’s largest city is affectionately known, is a heady mix of the traditional, friendly, and glamorous with plenty of hipster credentials thrown in. Gaze at awesome street art, grab a craft beer, try vegan scrapple, relax in a hammock in Spruce Street Harbor Park, dine in one of the many award-winning restaurants, or hang out in the vibrant neighborhoods of Fishtown and Northern Liberties which have often been likened to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Bushwick – this is a seriously cool city! Want to stay somewhere equally as hip? Here are the best cool and unusual hotels in Philadelphia (in no particular order)…
1. Wm. Mulherin’s Sons Hotel, Fishtown – a trendy boutique hotel set in a historic converted whiskey factory perfect for Millennials and Gen Zs
Set in a beautifully converted whiskey factory dating from 1890, this trendy boutique hotel between Fishtown and Olde Kensington has just 4 contemporary apartment-type rooms, individually decorated in an industrial-chic style, featuring concrete floors, wooden ceilings and exposed brick walls.
Lovely features include skylights, a record player, and a free-standing tub. On the ground floor there’s a really good, cozy Italian restaurant and bar featuring wood paneling and a fireplace.
Inhale fully and maybe, just maybe, you can get a whiff of the old whiskey barrels oozing from the pores of the building – or maybe that’s just imagination?
- To book, check or prices or dates for Wm. Mulherin’s Sons Hotel, Fishtown
2. Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, Center City – a chic and very Instagrammable boutique hotel housed in a historic art deco building
IHG has a reputation for being a bit different with their Kimpton Hotel Palomar. This 26-story former architect’s tower, on the edge of the French Quarter in Philadelphia Center City, is no exception. From the glorious art deco entrance to quirky pieces of art – everything is designed to make you grin and enjoy the moment. Shared spaces are glorious and stylish yet comfortable and welcoming.
Guest rooms and suites are simple, genuinely chic, respecting the building rather than trying to mimic the era. Try to get a room as high as possible to take advantage of the views and, at least once, get up early and borrow one of the hotel’s bicycles for the best way to tour historic Philadelphia.
- To book, check or prices or dates for Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, Center City
3. Lokal Hotel, Old City – a modern hotel with unique rustic chic decor set amongst trendy shops and cafes
In a street that looks more Notting Hill in London than Philadelphia is the delightful Lokal Hotel. A proper boutique aparthotel with just six flats all furnished in an absolutely lovely upcycled airy style with rough wood and naked floors creating an almost Parisienne feeling throughout this beautiful historic building.
For all its old town charm the Lokal is secretly brimming with technology; there is no front desk and no onsite staff. From the automated coded check-in to an in-room iPad with multiple service-driven apps, everything is done with a few taps.
The hotel is located in the very heart of the old city surrounded by shops, restaurants, and a cornucopia of history.
- To book, check or prices or dates for Lokal Hotel, Old City Philadelphia
4. Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown, Rittenhouse Square – an upscale design hotel with contemporary decor set in a great central location
In amongst the business blocks and offices of Center City West is the Sonesta. A large 439 room corporate-style hotel in beige and grey with dollops of red.
Conveniently located for Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia City Hall, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and all the city shopping, at first glance this appears to be an archetypal city hotel – except that it holds a couple of surprises: a good, small rooftop swimming pool and sundeck, which is very uncommon in Philadelphia Center City, and a unique art gallery with rotating exhibitions from local artists.
Get on the rooftop when the sun shines, and in the gallery when it rains; that’s your stay sorted without even leaving the hotel!
- To book, check or prices or dates for Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown, Rittenhouse Square
5. Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Center City – a modern design hotel with sleek and sexy decor
This landmark structure was America’s first skyscraper, rising a commanding 33 stories into the air. Using curved glass and bold geometric shapes, it looks modern but was, in fact, constructed in 1933 as home to Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS). Internally, rare woods along with marble and granite from over 30 countries were used to dramatic effect, along with clocks by Cartier.
Now a big corporate-style hotel perfectly located for conventions and anything else that must be done in the city center. The Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Center City has 581 rooms and suites are neat, comfortable, and stylish – some have lovely views across the city.
There are two very good restaurants, a big fitness center, a spa and salon retreat, indoor heated swimming pool, and masses of function space for meetings or events including three ballrooms.
- To book, check or prices or dates for Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Center City
6. ROOST Midtown, Center City – modern apartments with a kitchen set in a 1920s building with a rooftop patio
In the heart of the Center City, a stone’s throw from Dilworth Park and Philadelphia City Hall, is ROOST Midtown, an aparthotel in the old 1920s Packard Building.
There are 27 fully equipped apartments from studios to two bedrooms, each furnished in a very chic, almost catalog-looking, Scandi-style of clean lines, block colors, and pale wood.
Tasteful, thoughtful, and highly liveable throughout. If it’s available, try to book the penthouse for beautiful high-vaulted intricate plasterwork ceilings and some lovely views through the city skyline.
Unlike some aparthotels, ROOST Midtown has a 24-hour concierge, fitness center, and complimentary bicycles. They even supply a dog-sitting service for those four-legged guests.
- To book, check or prices or dates for ROOST Midtown, Center City
7. Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, Center City – an exquisitely restored unique boutique hotel inside the historic Lafayette Building
Surrounded by the beautiful parks and history of the Old City is the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, an IHG hotel. The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are across the street.
The outside is imposing formal classical stonework, but inside all illusions are forgotten as this grand hotel hugs the visitor with an unexpected colorful extravagance of décor.
Guest rooms and suites are stunning, whimsical, indulgent – delightful spaces of art and design and, if you’re lucky, fabulous views of the history right outside.
There are all the amenities you’d expect but, best of all is the frankly lovely rooftop lounge and bar; a superbly comfortable inside/outside space high above the bustle of the streets.
- To book, check or prices or dates for Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, Center City
8. The Bellevue Hotel, in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt – a swish upmarket and very Instagrammable hotel set in a landmark skyscraper
Every city has its grandest of the grand – à qui mieux mieux. Opened in 1904, and looking every inch like a nobleman’s townhouse from Imperial Paris, the Bellevue Hotel is undoubtedly one of the finest, most splendid creations in Philadelphia, if not on the entire east coast.
The huge atrium, sweeping staircases, soaring arches, delicate tiling, and intricate art nouveau details are preserved and gloriously enhanced with modern, tasteful luxury furnishings.
Rooms and suites are simpler, spacious and comfortable with a charming design. Within the Bellevue complex is an entire shopping mall, enormous fitness center, jaw-dropping two-tier ballroom, and a restaurant on four huge balconies on the nineteenth floor with the highest outside dining experience in Philadelphia – genuinely breath-taking.
- To book, check or prices or dates for The Bellevue Hotel, in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt
9. Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast, University City – a stylishly quirky family-owned B&B set in a unique 1865 house
Just across the Schuylkill River from Center City sits a little gem of a B&B in an original Victorian villa located in University City, one of Philadelphia’s safest and prettiest neighborhoods.
The house is wrapped with a stunning traditional wooden veranda and gardens, whilst inside there is oodles of stained-glass and dark wood, brightened in the six guest rooms with light colonial styling. Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast doesn’t wallow in antiques, instead they’ve used history as inspiration to create a pleasant, warm ambiance designed for comfortable modern living. Worth a special mention is the amazing breakfast, entirely sourced from local producers, it’s rumored to be the best in Philadelphia.
- To book, check or prices or dates for Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast, University City
10. The Rittenhouse Hotel, Center City – a popular high-end hotel recognized as one of the world’s finest places to stay by many prestigious travel magazines
Visually dominating the beautiful Rittenhouse Square, the 1980s Rittenhouse Hotel perches like a massive cheese grater in the skyline. In contrast to the stark outside the interior is chic and tasteful with beautifully furnished spaces and a clever use of color to create a super-relaxing feel and exploit the masses of natural light.
The Rittenhouse Hotel has managed to entirely avoid the bland corporate feeling, so often associated with big hotels, and focussed on creating exquisite rooms and suites with delicate character and charm.
There are five excellent eating places in the hotel, plus a huge choice within walking distance, and a superb on-site spa, salon and fitness center.
- To book, check or prices or dates for The Rittenhouse Hotel, Center City
11. The Notary Hotel Autograph Collection, Center City – a chic historic upscale hotel located in a great central location
In Philadelphia’s historic Penn Square, The Notary Hotel, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel, is a place where 1920s-era grandeur meets modern hospitality.
Located in the former City Hall Annex, just steps from the Pennsylvania Convention Center and Reading Terminal Market, the 499-room property fuses the city’s unique soul with its historic legacy. The building dates to 1926 and was designed by prolific architect Philip Johnson in the classical revival style.
For decades, the City Hall Annex was where a Notary’s stamp was given to signify the start of a marriage, a business or a new journey. The rooms and suites are decorated with a nod to the art deco interiors of the period. The public spaces reveal much more of the unique history and are splattered with clever, interesting artistic installations.
- To book, check or prices or dates for The Notary Hotel Autograph Collection, Center City
12. The Gables Bed & Breakfast Philadelphia, University City – popular quirky-chic accommodation housed in a beautiful historic home
On the west side of the Schuylkill River, near the University of the Sciences, is the Gables Bed & Breakfast in a pretty turn-of-the-century suburban street with trams (known as trolleys in the US) running past the door. A small Victorian mansion kitted out in splendid over-the-top designs from the period to create a warm, nostalgic, homely feeling with original oak floors and cherrywood paneling.
There’s a magnificent wrap-around veranda and terrace in the garden for breakfast or reading the morning paper in the summertime, shaded by a stately old Norway maple and blossoming dogwood, Japanese cherry, crab apple, and magnolia.
A truly charming slice of hospitality and relaxation just 15 minutes from the heart of the magnificent city of Philadelphia.
- To book, check or prices or dates for The Gables Bed & Breakfast Philadelphia, University City
13. Sonder at The Arco, Center City – a mid-range hotel with minimalist Scandi chic inspired decor
Get a mix of both worlds at Sonder | The Arco, where historic charm and contemporary convenience merge. Former home of the Printing Industries of Philadelphia, a classic red-brick exterior perfectly contrasts the charming collection of modern artworks inside. Take a moment to kick back beside the cozy fireplace in the lobby, or to refuel with a quick bite at one of the many local restaurants.
Comfortable apartments, simply styled for modern living, act as a crash-pad for enjoying Midtown bars, clubs, and restaurants. Refresh and rejuvenate in your bright, comfortable space, then step out to the vibrant streets of Midtown Village.
Rich with LGBTQ+ history and bursting with lively bars and restaurants, South 13th Street’s entertainment scene begs you to explore.
- To book, check or prices or dates for Sonder at The Arco, Center City
14. Gifford-Risley House Bed and Breakfast, Media – a beautifully unique guest house with vintage-inspired decor
A few miles outside the city of Philadelphia, in Delaware County, is the beautiful Gifford-Risley House. An 1877 Gothic-revival Victorian villa hosting 7 guest bedrooms each decorated in rich Victorian patterns with original antiques.
There is a homely parlor, library, dining room, and conservatory at Gifford-Risley House Bed and Breakfast, Media all bedecked with balloon-back chairs, chaises, carved wood, velvets, and tapestries – a genuine effort to recreate the ambiance of a slice of history when Philadelphia was the largest city in the US and leading the Industrial Revolution stateside.
In the summer, breakfast and afternoon tea are served on the veranda (the porch in US English) surrounded by the pretty gardens and manicured lawns of this quiet suburban street.
- To book, check or prices or dates for Gifford-Risley House Bed and Breakfast, Media
15. Le Méridien Philadelphia, Center City – a beautiful design hotel with an onsite spa and a restaurant offering fine city views
A beautiful hotel, both inside and out, in the heart of the Center City close to City Hall and LOVE Park. Le Méridien Philadelphia is a smart 10-story neo-Georgian building crammed with clever design features in comfortable surroundings. A former YMCA, its striking architectural details are cleverly aligned so the old complements the new.
A lovely skylight allows a flood of natural light to the 75-foot central atrium courtyard, while an airy restaurant bar with graceful archways and classic woodwork brings endless possibility.
The 202 rooms feature bold black and white décor with inspired red accents to enhance the hotel interior’s rich millwork. The Grand Ballroom provides a stately yet original setting for any gathering, with views of Philadelphia’s renowned City Hall.
- To book, check or prices or dates for Le Méridien Philadelphia, Center City
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Gary is an award winning full time professional photographer and videographer with too much wanderlust for his own good. Fuelled by strong coffee, you’ll often find him wandering well off hiking trails in search of interesting photographic subjects or scenery to video. Self taught and with the use of pioneering digital techniques, he quickly built up a strong client base and has worked with many prestigious organisations, including GQ, BBC, London Fashion Week, Grazia, Sky, Metro, Vogue Italia. He specialising in evocative images of people, places and cinematic videography and his goal is to make the viewer look twice and engage. As well as a penchant for good design, the ketogenic diet and Hungarian Vizslas, he also has a huge affection for Chicago, Bucharest, Scandinavia, Croatia and absolutely everywhere in Italy. Find him on Instagram @garynansome, Twitter @garynansome and his website https://garynunn.co.uk/