It’s coincidence, surely. But the new wave of Philadelphia hotel openings would almost seem to have happened in the spirit of cooperation. There is the playful, less-servicey Aloft (Starwood’s original entry into the burgeoning micro-hotel trend); over in Fishtown, WM. Mulherin’s is an archly hipsterish B&B above an archly hipsterish restaurant; and the Four Seasons at the Comcast Center, well…it’s a Four Seasons.
Nestled ideologically between them is the classy new Notary Hotel, a revamp of the former Courtyard Marriott – which was, in fact, in need of a little dazzle. It makes a statement from the moment you pull up, with its imposing N. Juniper Street building (the restored 1926 City Hall Annex) holding a hallowed spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The entrance’s dramatic arches and the lobby’s beautiful coffered ceiling have been left magnificently intact.
Part of Autograph Collection Hotels, the brand has craftily found an in-between niche (which Hilton is now trying to match with Curio): 4-star amenities and service, plush interiors nearly always fitted into historic architecture, with low-key, non-sceney (but great quality) restaurants. They also tend to be mostly hipster no-go zones – so don’t come looking for fixie lender bikes and Stumptown coffee.
Service is also taken very seriously, as, arriving for the Notary’s opening bash, we were greeted at check-in with earnest smiles and comforting banter – decisively mitigating the previously terrible day we were having. We were graciously upgraded to a corner room with what was arguably the most prized view in all of Philadelphia: the awesome City Hall building to the left, the dramatic, 1873 Masonic Temple (with its Norman style architecture) to the right – and a straight eye-shot down Market Street to the Beaux Arts elegance of 30th Street Station.
Handsome rooms boast neo-neo-classical headboards, oversized chairs, chicly mismatched patterns and artfully-adorned shelving space. Tapping into a particular current trend, the feel is comfortably residential, meaning you might find yourself preferring to stay in with room service.
Speaking of caffeine, we were particularly thrilled with the on-site outpost 0f La Colombe, Philadelphia’s coffee sensation, where you can start your day with a flavor-packed Nizza or Rouge Organic. Down the hall, Sabroso+Sorbo serves sherry-based cocktails and sangria, as well as plates of Spanish ham and cheese, and creatively realized tapas (albondigas, red snapper ceviche) in an evocative, light-wooded space.
The Notary Hotel could not be better located, as its decisively immersed in the buzz of Center City, with Reading Terminal Market and the trendy S. 13th Street restaurant corridor just a few blocks away – making it ideal for a Philly weekend getaway…which is becoming more of a thing every day.