A well-preserved row of early 19th-century shipping warehouses along a cobblestone lane fronting the Delaware River has been lovingly restored and transformed into the atmospheric Penn’s View Hotel in Old City. Despite the prime location near Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Constitution Center, the buildings sat vacant for decades before being rescued by Philadelphia’s Sena family in 1990. Under their ownership, the hotel has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and in the memories of loyal guests who love its intimate setting, historic locale, and award-winning wine cellar.
Three restored buildings house 49 rooms and two suites. Each is uniquely decorated; many add gas fireplaces and exposed brick while others include Jacuzzi tubs and Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge views. Its riverfront perch also puts it near I-95 (routed along the river in the late 1960s), so light sleepers should request rooms on the other side of the inn. A complimentary continental breakfast is included in every stay.
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Narrow cobblestone lanes and redbrick row homes define Old City, Philadelphia’s original neighborhood and the true birthplace of America. But it’s not all history here. The area supports some 55 art and design galleries, hosting one of the best First Fridays in the country complete with live music. The restaurant empire of Iron Chef Jose Garces has ballooned across the country, but it all started in Old City at Amada, dedicated to the flavors and ingredients of Andalucía. For a full feast, order a cochinillo asado—roasted suckling pig, grilled green onions, garbanzos, and white beans.
Need to Know
Rooms: 49 rooms, 2 suites. From $179. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The Sena family hails from Italy, and the hotel’s Ristorante Panorama is a treat, serving classic trattoria fare paired with fine wine from a list that runs 800 bottles deep; the wine cellar has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for its wine preservation system. Spa and gym details: The fitness center is diminutive, but does the job. There is no spa on-site.
Who’s it for: History buffs willing to trade the amenities of a big-brand hotel for charm and personalized service. Our favorite rooms: The fifth-floor Queen Patio has a gas fireplace, spa shower, and large outdoor patio with the best views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge. Add wine: Upgrade your stay with the Vino Viaggio package, which includes a wine flight and Italian cheese plate.