Philly’s French predilections are long-standing, dating back to Ben Franklin’s sojourn in Paris during the Revolutionary War. At the turn of the 20th century, French-born architect Paul Cret redesigned Rittenhouse Square with Paris in mind, and today it hosts a thriving café culture. Philly’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway connects Center City to a corridor of museums including the Rodin Museum, the largest collection of the French sculptor’s work outside of Paris. Le Meridien Philadelphia, a boutique outpost of a hotel brand born of Air France, fits the city to a T. Set across from JFK Plaza, this stylish stay puts guests steps from Philly’s acclaimed art museums and lauded bistros. The hotel is housed in a 10-story Georgian-revival building that started life in 1912 as a YMCA by famed architect Horace Trumbauer. Collegiate details include a gorgeous wood-paneled library, soaring ceilings, and stone fireplace living rooms. After a four-year, multimillion-dollar renovation, the building was reborn as Le Meridien Philadelphia in 2010, incorporating Trumbauer’s original details with a rotating roster of modern art and urban musts such as a hip lobby bar that’s the first thing guests see when entering (hang a left into the parlor for personalized check-in). Each of the 202 guestrooms and suites is unique in layout, and all accommodations are set around a 75-foot atrium at the center of the building. As such, some rooms have internal atrium views while others peer out over the bustling city below. These digs are stylish, with a certain Euro-efficiency including pocket doors, retro gray chairs, and black-and-white decor punctuated by pops of deep red. Marble bathrooms are big considering the building’s age, with shower-tub combos.
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The hotel puts all of Philly’s cultural jewels at your feet, beginning with the museums lining the mile-long Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The strip starts at the iconic LOVE Park, where a selfie in front of Robert Indiana’s masterpiece is a must. Come summer, the Swann Memorial Fountain is a masterpiece in which you can splash with local children. Beyond, the Barnes Foundation is the Parkway’s latest addition, a modern museum housing one of the world’s finest private collections of impressionist art, a collection previously locked away from the masses for decades. Next door, ponder Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” before stepping into his eponymous museum, the largest collection of the sculptor’s work outside of Paris. The Horace Trumbauer–designed Philadelphia Museum of Art is a work unto itself; it houses one of the largest collections of art in the world, with masterpieces on display including native son Thomas Eakins’ “The Gross Clinic.”
Need to Know
Rooms: 202 rooms. From $165. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: The hotel’s Amuse bar and brasserie tops off the trendy scene with stylish French flair. Sidle up at the bar for handcrafted cocktails, or scour the restaurant’s iPad app to pick out the perfect varietal from the restaurant’s extensive wine cellar. The steak frites are the restaurant’s foundation, with tender hanger steak and an otherworldly béarnaise aioli and sauce. Spa and gym details: A small fitness room off the atrium courtyard is open 24 hours daily. No spa
Who's it for: Culture vultures intent on devouring Philly’s stunning collection of art museums. Our favorite rooms: The Superior Suite, with 525 square feet to spread out and a separate city-view living room. Good to know: Rooms ending in 47 have the best views of Philly’s historic City Hall.