What do you do when your hotel points are about to expire? For me, I booked a room at the Philadelphia Hyatt at the Bellevue for an overnight staycation (locals just say the Bellevue Hotel). As part of my year-end review of miles, points and credit cards, I realized that I had a free stay award as part of my Hyatt credit card annual fee. It was good for category 1-4 and I tried in vain to use it in New York when I attended the NY Times Travel Show and decided to cancel the credit card as the benefit did not outweigh the annual cost. There are no hotels in New York City in those categories. So with less than a week until the free night expired, I figured why not stay in Philadelphia, meet a friend for dinner and then avoid the drive home by staying at the Hyatt.
When I went to book the hotel, the photos did give me pause as the décor was so very outdated. I also read that the hotel was undergoing renovations every day of the week with times listed when work would begin and end. So I took my chance and booked my award night online.
The location at Broad & Walnut is perfect to wander up Walnut to shop, or up Market to City Hall or down Walnut toward the Historic Area (Liberty Bell, Independence Park, Constitution Center, etc.). If you are attending a sporting event or concert in Philly at the many stadiums, the Broad Street subway entrance is right outside the hotel. Also outside the hotel is a Philly favorite, Wawa! Wawa is our go to convenience store for coffee, hoagies (you might call them subs but please don’t) and everything else you need to keep your stomach happy. If you ask a Philly person what they miss while traveling or if they’ve moved out of the area -the answer is usually Wawa!
I parked in the adjacent parking garage that I know all too well having visited the Shops (and Spa) at the Bellevue for most of my adult life. The shops include Teuscher Chocolates (yum!), Ralph Lauren, Nicole Miller, a food court in the basement, a Williams Sonoma and The Palm Steakhouse. The overnight parking fee would be $32 so I parked on my own rather than pay more for valet. I just had an overnight bag so didn’t need any help.
I’m familiar with the lobby of the historic building built in 1904 as the Bellevue Stratford. The look and feel is hard to escape given the buildings’ history – the large windows, grand ballroom and incredible architecture both inside and out. I was instantly welcomed and I asked for “a renovated room if possible”. A king room was found on the 17th floor (room 1734) and I was given a hotel sheet with all pertinent information (restaurant times, room service times, gym, etc.) as well as a coupon for the Spa at the Bellevue in the lower level.
My Renovated King Room
The lobby elevators serve all floors up to the restaurant XIX Nineteen. I exited on the 17th floor and did a bit of a wander as my room was hidden around the corner in what could be connecting rooms if the master doors are shut. The brown and crème décor with a pop of color from the prints on the wall was a big change from the old décor.
When I opened the door I was immediately in the room (no hallway) which is a bit disconcerting but the massively high ceilings and windows were quite welcoming. The room could use some art over the bed in my opinion.
The room had two chairs, a table, a flat screen on the wall and a two free bottle of water along with the in room coffee maker supplied with Starbucks coffee.
You could tell the closet was original and they had no idea how to use it but to keep it the same – I think in NYC this could qualify as a bedroom (ok, kidding). It was big with an ironing board, iron and lots of room.
The Renovated Bathroom
The bathroom is small but functional with the newly renovated walk in shower and the nicely appointed amenities in the ladder like furniture piece. The hairdryer was easy to find under the open sink. The toiletries were ok.
A View of Philly
The windows open (signs of an older hotel) and were covered not with a room darkening shade or curtains but by shutters. I had a good view of the sunset over the city and later the nighttime lights in the buildings. My shutters didn’t quite fully shut so I had light in the room during the night (I reported to the front desk to address).
The Restaurant – XIX Nineteen
I’ve dined in XIX Nineteen many times over the years, attended many events here and love the hidden bar with fireplace. The service has always been good as has the food. For breakfast, I asked my server if I should get the “healthy eggs” or the “sinful buttermilk pancakes” – she replied “go with the sin” and I was quite happy to indulge in the pancakes ($12).
The Sporting Club at the Bellevue
Free access to the Sporting Club at the Bellevue is a FANTASTIC benefit of your stay at the Philadelphia Hyatt at the Bellevue. Members are locals and include some famous Philly folks in the massive 93,000 sq ft space. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to use the facilities which include a gym, indoor running track, basketball court, pools and many other options. I’ve tours the facilities before and was very impressed – you could spend all day here and never leave the hotel building.
The renovations are still ongoing so make sure to request a “renovated room”, it appears that the common spaces will be done last. I believe all work is scheduled to be completed in April 2016.
Overall Impression of the Philadelphia Hyatt at the Bellevue
For a quick one night staycation, the renovated Philadelphia Hyatt at the Bellevue was perfect. It’s a four star hotel with friendly five star service (Philly doesn’t really have any five star hotels yet in my opinion). The weekends are quite busy at the hotel with many weddings (the ballroom is gorgeous) and private parties. Despite being quite crowded, I heard no noise and slept great, that alone puts the hotel on my good list. It was my first stay at the hotel but won’t be my last as I enjoy a good staycation and playing tourist in my own town of Philadelphia.