Best Historic Hotel: Well, it's only the "lite" version of what it used to be, when Thomas Edison designed the fixtures and the ballroom defined swank. But the top floor of the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, Broad and Walnut streets, or 1415 Chancellor Court, between Walnut and Locust streets (tel. 800/223-1234), with its Library Lounge bar and pastel-painted, domed Barrymore tea room, carries traces of a century's worth of history.
Best for Business Travelers: Hotel Sofitel, 120 S. 17th St. (tel. 800/SOFITEL), is one of the upscale chain with a French accent. Philly Sofitel's location is incredibly convenient, and the rooms are large and elegant, with easy access to plugs and modem jacks at a handsome desk. You'll find personal voice mail, also. The service staff is efficient and courteous.
Best for a Romantic Getaway: The Penn's View Hotel, Front and Market streets (tel. 800/331-7634), feels like an exquisite club, with views over the Delaware River. And how could you not like what the New York Times hails as "the mother of all wine bars" downstairs?
Best Hotel Lobby for Pretending You're Rich: There's no place like the cool, plush Four Seasons Hotel, 1 Logan Sq. (tel. 800/332-3442), for rubbing elbows with the moneyed elite (it's also a great place to stay if you are the moneyed elite). The Swann Lounge overlooking Logan Circle is a constant stream of chic outfits, custom suits, and the frequent black tie.
Best for Families: The Hilton Inn at Penn, in West Philadelphia at 3600 Sansom St. (tel. 800/445-8667), is a cross-town ride from the historical sights, but offers the whole family space to roam among spacious corridors, ever-present fruit to munch on and tea to sip in a comfortable library lounge, plus TV for children to watch while parents exercise. Also, the campus of U. Penn across the street is perfect for throwing a Frisbee or playing tag. Slightly tattered but more moderately priced is the Embassy Suites Center City, 1776 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. at Logan Square (tel. 800/362-2779), with cute little open-air balconies (yes, the railings are sturdy), and an opulent buffet breakfast at the TGI Friday's at street level. It's 5 minutes to the premier children's museums and Logan Circle. And all the rooms are suites, so parents can have their privacy.
Best Moderately Priced Hotel: The Hotel Windsor, 1700 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. near Rittenhouse Square and City Hall (tel. 877/784-8379), is the best choice in its price range. A one-room suite with two double beds and full kitchen goes for $139. A generous continental breakfast is included in the rate.
Best B&B: Many, many more B&Bs are listed through A Bed & Breakfast Connection/Bed & Breakfast of Philadelphia than are listed independently. A favorite among the latter is Shippen Way Inn, 418 Bainbridge St. (tel. 800/245-4873 or 215/627-7266), which has nine rooms in two Queen Village row houses built around 1750 and lovingly maintained. You might also try Ten Eleven Clinton, 1011 Clinton St. (tel. 215/923-8144), an elegant 1836 Federal town house on a quiet tree-lined street. See the "Historic Bed & Breakfasts" box on for more on both.
Best Service: The training process for every employee of the Ritz-Carlton hotels is legendary, and the staff at the hotel at 10 Avenue of the Arts (tel. 800/241-3333) is no exception. Guests pay top prices (though weekend packages are actually quite affordable) to be pampered. It's a fantasyland of amenities; service attendants earn points for thinking of extras like both foam and down pillows in the closets and bookmarks in the TV Guides.
Best Hotel for Historic District Hopping: If you're here to see Independence Park, why not wake up looking at it through the floral chintz curtains at the Omni Hotel at Independence Park, 4th and Chestnut streets (tel. 800/843-6664)? All 150 guest rooms have views of the Greek Revival Second Bank of the U.S. and a half-dozen of America's Georgian jewels. And the clip-clopping of horses and carriages below maintains the sense of history.
Best Hotel Health Club: The Wyndham Philadelphia at Franklin Plaza, 17th and Race streets (tel. 800/996-3426), with 758 rooms -- second only in quantity to the Convention Center Marriott -- has the best facilities for hotel guests, including a 45-foot indoor pool, a track, three racquetball courts, three squash courts, outdoor handball, and two tennis courts -- all on the third-floor lobby roof. Weights and Nautilus machines round out the picture inside.
Best Hotel Pool: Above the garage complex of the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue is the Sporting Club, with its four-lane, junior Olympic pool. Hotel guests and local members can use the pool and the other 2 acres of health facilities, or you can pay $20 for a 1-day pass to the club. The Four Seasons Hotel's indoor pool at 1 Logan Sq. (tel. 800/332-3442) is smaller, but is absolutely spectacular for laps or lounging.
Best Views: Many of the hotel listings specify one side or another as preferable. In Center City, rooms at the Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 W. Rittenhouse Sq. (tel. 800/635-1042), all have wonderful views of the Philly landscape, from the leafy park below on the east to the western view of the Schuylkill and the Parkway. The new Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing, on the Delaware River waterfront at 201 S. Columbus Blvd. (tel. 800/228-1234), commands spectacular views of Center City to the west and Camden to the east.
Best Hotel Restaurants: The Zagat guide to local restaurants has listed the Fountain Restaurant in the Four Seasons as one of the country's top 50 dining spots. Recently refurbished, it is virtually flawless, with high prices to match the high quality. It now has a worthy rival in the Rittenhouse Hotel's restaurant Lacroix, opened in 2003 by Jean-Marie Lacroix, for 2 decades the chef at the Fountain. This haute-meets-modern French restaurant is soothing and sleek, with park views, limestone accents, and elegant green-velvet seating; it has received great acclaim from Esquire's John Mariani, among others.
Best Splurge Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, 10 Avenue of the Arts (tel. 215/523-8000), is an overwhelming dose of luxury, with its massive domed lobby, lavish furnishings, and clubby bars. Upgrade to the Club Level for less than $50 and experience a lounge spread of champagne and endless hors d'oeuvres.
Best Trendy Hotel: Philly's luxuriously hip Hotel Sofitel, 120 S. 17th St. (tel. 800/SOFITEL), has modern decor, a groovy long bar, and lots of French people swanning in and out frequently, plus Deco-contemporary furniture and a great location for shopping near Walnut Street.
Best Hostel: Centrally located near all the historical and nightlife attractions, the Bank Street Hostel, 32 S. Bank St. (tel. 800/392-4678 or 215/922-0222), is smack in the Old City/Society Hill nexus; it's perfect for budget or adventurous travelers.
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