We hold these truths to be self-evident: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of a bubble bath with a view of Independence Hall. It’s all possible at this luxe hotel, a 2013 addition to the Old City scene. Hotel Monaco is set in the historic 1907 Lafayette building directly across from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Kimpton enlisted historic hotel designer extraordinaire Todd Avery Lenahan to transform the stately 11-story Greek Revival building, and his vision takes guest on a stylish ride through Colonial and Federal styles while preserving the dignity of the edifice. Lenahan infused historic whimsy into every nook and cranny, mixing period wainscoting and original coffered ceilings with Federal-nouveau furnishings and bold hues, from a front desk backed in hot pink to the fireplace living room lobby in yellow. Completing the scene are the Red Owl Tavern, a gourmet gastropub glamorizing a bygone agrarian era, and rooftop Stratus lounge with a 30-foot fireplace wall and city views.
Lenahan’s Colonial-chic concept extends to 268 guestrooms and suites where no wall is left uncovered with print or color. You’ll find a menagerie of exaggerated damask, floral, and paisley in each room. Furnishings range from glossy red armoires to black lacquered bookshelves to mirrored end tables, to bonded leather headboards; picture windows are draped with bold blue and gold drapery. Massive granite bathrooms have soaking tubs, glass-encased showers, and a nod to Philly’s most famous resident: Every bathrobe is hung with Rocky-style robes.
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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 setting may be historic, but the cuisine is progressive at Old City hot spot Zahev. Chef Michael Solomonov serves modern Israeli cuisine, including a meze and ha'esh menu grilling rich lamb and succulent branzino. Another must-taste Old City eatery is chef Eli Kulp’s Fork, where classic American dishes are elevated with modern preparations—think fermented broccoli rabe, brioche infused with dried beef, homemade peach wine, and charred octopus with slices of lightly fried potato. Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant empire 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 for the family—roasted suckling pig, grilled green onions, garbanzos, and white beans.
Need to Know
Rooms: 268 rooms. From $413. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: Ground-level Red Owl Tavern’s steampunk barn aesthetic is the perfect setting for Chef Jorge Chicas’ “indie steakhouse” menu. Expect to dine on local produce and meat. Get a seat outside for the smoked and braised pork shank with mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts paired with a craft brew. Spa and gym details: A good-sized 24-hour gym is stocked with state-of-the-art tech and quirky gear like hula hoops, balance balls, and yoga mats.
Who's it for: History buffs with a taste for the finer things, from the hotel itself to Old City’s hip restaurants, bars, and galleries. Our favorite rooms: About that bubble bath… Hotel Monaco Philadelphia’s chic, 464-square-foot Corner King Spa Room is anchored by a freestanding soaking tub that looks out over the Birthplace of America. Nighttime tipples: Hotel Monaco Philadelphia takes Kimpton’s traditional hosted wine hours to the next level. Not only can you enjoy a sip in the fireside living room come early evening, but the hotel also pours complimentary nightcaps—cognac, whiskey, port—later in the night.