When Le Meridien first opened its stunningly designed Philadelphia outpost in 2010, the City of (amongst other things) Brotherly Love was still a little light on the noteworthy boutique hotels – something that has finally begun to be rectified these past few years. There’s even a W opening in early 2020.
Le Meridien Philadelphia itself got a makeover recently, mostly to rework the energy flow of the public spaces. But on a recent visit we still felt that same sense of visual awe upon entering the lobby, as the hotel is one of those rare instances of historical architecture and modern design melding in such a flawless manner. Indeed, the respectfully preserved early 20th Century Georgian Revival style building still exudes an understated elegance, with its warm woods, dramatically arched windows (on Arch Street, of all places) and handsome facade.
The Amuse bar still anchors the lobby, but now glows in a strikingly contrasting cobalt blue; and dramatic new chandeliers give the space a bit more dazzle. The restaurant tables have also been moved out of a side room and are now assembled around the bar – which makes for a much greater buzz in the evenings. (Though we would probably turn up the lights a bit.)
But it’s the rooms that are, in our opinion, stylistic near-perfection – all sophisticated, subdued greys, with brilliant splashes of yellow and red, and luxurious but sleek bathrooms. Best of all? Many have tall windows framing captivating views of the Masonic Temple, JFK Plaza and the awe-inspiring 19th Century, Second Empire style City Hall building. It’s absolutely worth splurging for one of the suites.
Somehow we were able to tear ourselves away from the view long enough to spend an evening flitting between a few of our fave S. 13th Street spots, just a few blocks from the hotel. And so we chatted up the cool, rocker-chick bartenders over happy hour bubbles and mussels at Vintage, before sipping cocktails with names like Penicillin and East of Eden next door at Charlie Was a Sinner – and finished up with to-die-for duck fettuccine and Moroccan spice ribs at Mediterranean hotspot Tredici Enoteca.
Back at Le Meridien, we capped off the night with an alluring cocktail creation called Wishful Drinking. At Amuse, in fact, each drink is named for one of The Muses, in this case, Urania, Muse of Astronomy – and thus inspired, we made our way up to our room to stare at the stars for awhile.