The smell was familiar as I exited the elevator to the lobby, I had arrived at the Westin Philadelphia. The distinctive smell was courtesy of the candles surrounding the floral arrangement on the entry table. I was now instantly relaxed, the hell of the commute quickly recessing from my mind, as I knew my Heavenly Bed was only minutes away. With all the brands in the Starwood (SPG) portfolio of hotels, now owned by Marriott, the Westin seems to fit my lifestyle the best. Don’t be fooled, the travel industry has created and marketed lifestyle brands to align to your life (or the life you want to lead).
The Westin Philadelphia location, just a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square, is fantastic on 17th street between the business buildings of Market Street and the shopping on Chestnut Street. 17th Street hosts the Westin, Kimpton Palomar, Sofitel Philadelphia, Club Quarters and the Radisson making it a great location from which to explore the city. City Hall’s Dilworth Park, with the famous “Love” statue is two blocks away as is the Comcast Center and Suburban Station. Reading Terminal Market (a must for any visit to Philly) is ten minutes’ walk to 12th & Filbert streets.
Shopping & Food
Pennsylvania is tax-free for clothes and shoes (sadly not handbags, Apple items or jewelry) so the Westin Philadelphia is in a perfect location to take advantage of the shopping nearby in Rittenhouse, along Walnut Street (Apple Store, Stuart Weitzman, Urban Outfitters, Zara, Lagos Jewelry, BlueMercury to name a few) and Chestnut Street (famous Philly boutiques such as Boyd’s, Joan Shepp and Knit Wit). The hotel entrance is next to the Shops at Liberty Place entrance, step inside to find Bloomingdale’s Outlet, a food court and the new Liberty Observation Tower in Two Liberty Place. Chestnut Street is anchored at 17th Street by Nordstrom Rack, Davio’s Steakhouse and a Rite Aid Pharmacy. Walk further down 17th street and turn onto Sansom Street for a plethora of food (Federal Donuts, Philly Soft Pretzels, Dizengoff Hummus, and Dandelion British Pub), spa (Adolph Biecker), craft beer (The Foodery) and wine (Tria Wine Bar) options.
Westin Philadelphia Parking
I drove to the hotel and chose to valet park ($54 – ridiculous I know but so convenient in this part of town). I was instantly greeted and welcomed to the hotel by staff. Normally, I’d park a few blocks away for less but with a tight time schedule and traffic upon arrival (note 17th is notorious for backups and it once took me more than an hour to go one block). There is self-parking in the building for about $41 but it’s my least favorite parking garages in the city so I go out of my way to avoid it. To retrieve your car from valet, you send a text with your ticket number and get a reply with the wait time. My reply was immediate and my car was waiting for me at check out.
I’ve stayed at the Westin Philadelphia many times over the years so am familiar with the building (plus it was the Ritz Carlton eons ago when my firm used it for events). Upon arrival, you walk through the doors to the elevators to go up one floor to the hotel lobby. There are bellmen to greet you and assist with luggage.
Upon exiting the elevator, the smell as mentioned above greets you first as you walk to the desk. My check in was quick (photo ID check, credit card swipe), my SPG gold status recognized (I picked the points over drinks) and my room preference verified (quiet away from elevator, king bed). I was assigned a corner room on the 10th Floor (SPG Preferred Floor).
The Lobby – Lounge Area
The hotel hit “refresh” recently and the décor and color palette were updated along with the art to present a modern, affordable luxury hotel (I do miss the wood-paneled and fireplace of the best hidden bar in the city). If you didn’t know better you’d think the hotel stole a designer from the stylish boutique Kimpton Hotels (the Palomar is one block away). The artwork captures the history of the city through the founding fathers and a colorful, modern interpretation making this a departure from the other Westins I’ve stayed at. The lobby has three distinct areas – Winthrop & Valentine (a nod to the movie Trading Places but not my favorite name) restaurant and bar, a piano area and a separate seating area to meet, east and drink comfortably. The lobby provides free wi-fi, sadly, it costs $15.95 a night otherwise.
Westin Philadelphia – Standard King Room
The SPG Floor has a set of standard rooms all about the same size based on the floor map. When I entered the room, a large closet is on the left with a bathroom on the right. The room has an entry table with a lamp and coffee machine (Starbucks coffee), television, minibar above and below, storage drawers and a desk on the left side of the room. On the right side of the room is the Westin Heavenly Bed (a bit lumpy upon arrival as you can see), side tables (each with outlets) as well as a reading chair and small table with overhead light. The views from the hotel aren’t great as its surrounded by buildings.
While I’m usually citing hotels for lack of style and personality as they are missing pictures and color, this room did not have those issues – it had personality and style and wasn’t a cookie cutter Westin. The rounded mirror, the wandering eyes of the bolster pillow, the script of the declaration of independence on the chair and the colors and print of the floor and accessories were quite pleasing for me.
The Heavenly Bed is really that heavenly. Westin is one of the pioneers of the hotel bed that folks want to buy and take home (Four Seasons I think was the first and now the Sofitel So Bed is also in the game), the Westin has created a crave-able home product. I can’t afford the whole bed (I’d never leave home) but have bought Heavenly Pillows and the Heavenly Sheet Set for just a bit of the luxury sleep experience at home. It’s really hard to leave the comfortable bed especially with the room darkening curtains and the quiet as I was at the end of the hall.
The bathroom has been updated many times over the years, the layout hasn’t changed (I wish they would move the toilet quite frankly) but the décor is all Heavenly Bath – the robe, the towels and the waterfall shower (again, all available for purchase online). I was a bit taken aback at first that my favorite green leaf White Tea soap was gone, but relieved to see it only changed colors – from green to white and the packaging had a makeover too.
Moments after swiping the keycard to enter the room, I had a knock on the door. When I opened the door, I was greeted by a hotel delivery of chocolate covered strawberries, a bottle of water and a personal welcome note that included my PhilaTravelGirl information and the hashtag #spglife. This was quite the surprise because I’d never received a welcome gift before. I was staying on points and had not contacted the hotel in advance. When I returned from dinner, a bottle of wine (white) was waiting for me on the front side table in a bucket of ice. Again a surprise. I appreciated this type of recognition but wasn’t sure if related to my profile or my interactions with the SPG twitter team on an issue for my upcoming London stay or part of the #spglife program. Either way, it’s always good to feel special (**note for the future – my perfect combo is Red Wine & Chocolate Chip Cookies).
Breakfast at Winthrop & Valentine
The on site hotel restaurant is fine to satisfy your food needs and late night cravings but it’s not a destination restaurant. Frankly, there are too many amazing Philly food finds right outside the hotel so go explore. For me, I enjoyed my American Breakfast ($14) which included: coffee (which I don’t drink), juice, two eggs any style, one meat (of course bacon!) with hash browns and toast. There isn’t much open in the area for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. when I was eating so this was fine choice.
Westin Philadelphia Rates
The Westin Philadelphia is a category 5 hotel and award night cost 12,000 – 16,000 SPG points a night for a standard room. Since this is heavily booked for business travelers and conferences, the prices do fluctuate during the week and surprisingly you might see them on Hotel Tonight (use my referral code SWOLKO1 for $25 off your first booking of $135+) with an extra room or two on slower nights. The base rate is in the low $200 + tax per night but during events, I’ve seen it over $500 a night!
The Westin Philadelphia continues to be one of my favorite hotels in the city. I always recommend it to visitors as the location is wonderful and the staff so very friendly. It’s consistent, quiet and relaxing in the center of all that I need in Philadelphia. Its modern luxury décor, Heavenly Bed/Bath and excellent staff are a winning combination for your travel needs.