Walking around Philadelphia, you will be struck by all the fabulous architecture on the outside but the “oh wow!” moments are when you step inside and see how the restorations have incorporated original details with contemporary interior design. Many of the hotels in Philadelphia have a storied history and the Le Meridien Philadelphia is no exception as it was once a YMCA built in the early 1900’s and later housed the district attorney’s office. Having toured the Georgian Revival building many years ago, I wasn’t sure how the restoration and design would emerge but happily the hotel fits perfectly in the space.
It is right in the center of the city – great if you are attending a conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (one block away). It is across the street from the city’s municipal building (ugly) and City Hall (not ugly unless you count the air conditioners). The new outdoor space, Dilworth Park has opened in front of City Hall and both Love Park and Suburban Station (trains to/from the airport can be found here) are a one block walk. Two blocks away is the Reading Terminal Market – a must do for every visitor! The parkway with it’s fountains, museums and parks is three block walk. With a McDonald’s on the corner, it’s not quite the highlight of the food scene of Philadelphia, but no worries, you can walk 10-15 minutes to be in foodie paradise or take a cab to the Passyunk neighborhood of restaurants. For this reason, it is a quiet spot at night for the most part, during the day the area is pretty busy.
I’ve visited the hotel many times since it opened, but had never stayed. Rather than drive home after a night out, I chose to stay in town at the Le Meridien (I got a fantastic $169 rate last minute). The front valet immediately greeted me (the city street does get busy) on Arch Street. I wasn’t able to pull to the curb but rather the outer lane so it was nice for him to get me out of traffic as I had put the blinking lights on. As I had an overnight bag, I didn’t need help inside. There are original steps to enter (they also have an accessible lift).
When the doors were opened and I entered the lobby, this is the “Wow!” moment. In front of you is the lobby bar, to the right a small lobby restaurant and the front desk is on the left (actually a left, left). There are plush seating areas and fascinating lighting fixtures around. It is a boutique hotel design in the luxury space. The colors, warm lighting and woods all work together to create a comfortable space. The lobby bar is usually pretty busy with guests and local workers especially during happy hour.
I had a room facing the Municipal building and could see the monopoly art pieces scattered about (I love outdoor art but this display and the building really, really need updating). The window had an interesting fact “Philadelphia is directly opposite to the Indian Ocean on the other side of the globe” – not quite sure I needed to think so hard on this “Philadelphia trivia”
The room had everything it should have but didn’t give me the same “wow” as the lobby had. The room was muted in white and grey – it was a soft pretty. It gave me a sense of calm which is always a good thing in a bedroom. It was functional, spacious and the wifi was strong. The bed was quite soft and easy to sleep.
Nothing noteworthy in the bathroom, the wallpaper and lighting were nice decorative touches in this standard bathroom. There was a walk in stall shower and I don’t remember the toiletries (obviously I didn’t play hotel chipmunk here)
The Common Areas
The business center lobby is a unique space between the buildings covered with a skylight creating an open feel in the middle of the hotel. There are a row of computers and a printer to use as well as fashionable seating to enjoy the interior courtyard or people watch the elevator banks. The gym is located next to the business center lobby and was well equipped (I just peeked in).
For this visit, I didn’t eat at Amuse, the lobby restaurant/french brasserie but I have in the past and the food/service was good. I personally think there are many other amazing options in Philly to try, that said, this is definitely one of the better hotel restaurants in the city to dine at – definitely try the desserts (I had a few and yum!)
The Le Meridien Philadelphia is a great addition to the city, I’m glad they restored this building to a Starwood luxury property. The hotel shines in it’s historic restoration and contemporary design. For a weekend stay, it is a great location for me to walk to Reading Terminal (2 blocks) for my Amish breakfast of blueberry pancakes with crispy bacon and then explore the city. The staff were attentive, the room was calming and the rate of $169 (obviously a deal at the time) was fantastic.
Note: The hotel, due to convention traffic, is often full and commands a much higher rate than what I paid. You should check HotelTonight as they occasionally list available rooms (if you see one jump on it). You can also redeem SPG points (12k-16k) for this Category 5 Property.