The bustling corner of Walnut and 17th streets is anchored by the Latham, a stone-and-brick tower built in 1907 as luxury apartments for moneyed Philadelphians. While other Center City historic structures met their demise in the late 1960s, a group of investors doubled down on the stately building, transforming it into Philadelphia’s premier business hotel in 1970. The prestigious address completed a top-to-bottom renovation in 2011, bringing the Latham firmly into the 21st century while preserving period artifacts and style.
True to its apartment roots, arriving at the hotel is more like entering a tony doorman building, and the Latham’s residential roots bestow spacious guestrooms with tall ceilings, bay windows, and big bathrooms. Gold and gray hues are complemented by pops of blue, while big bathrooms keep it simple with a tub/shower combination; all are stocked with top-notch Gilchrist and Soames amenities.
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The Latham is an ideal perch for shoppers, putting them on the city’s prime retail strip. Urban Outfitters started out in Philadelphia, and one of the store’s largest outlets is right next door to your hotel. Upgrade your footwear at Ubiq Philadelphia (1509 Walnut St.), where sneakerphiles regularly camp out for the hottest kicks in the country. If something a bit more elegant is required, stop in at Knit Wit (1729 Chestnut St.), a locally owned boutique offering the latest styles by the likes of 3.1 Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang. If traveling with kids in tow or needing a gift to bring home to the wee one, Born Yesterday (1901 Walnut St.) stocks the city’s best selection of locally designed baby and kids clothes.
Need to Know
Rooms: 138 rooms. From $299. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Urban Enoteca opens to Walnut Street and serves tapas. The spot makes for a tasty happy hour, with local beers and craft cocktails such as the 17th and Walnut—rum, passion fruit, blossom honey, and Prosecco. Spa and gym details: While there isn’t a spa, the new fitness center is open 24 hours. Be sure to bring your A-game; the second-story, glass-encased gym is visible to everybody in the busy intersection.
Who’s it for: The Latham is aimed at business travelers, and they won’t be disappointed. It’s also close to the city’s best boutiques, making it a convenient base for shoppers. Our favorite rooms: North-facing rooms look out over the historic First Baptist Church of Philadelphia. Getting around: The hotel’s Audi A8 sedan is a classy—and complimentary—ride anywhere in Center City. Just be sure to make arrangements with the concierge prior to arrival to ensure availability.