If elegance, classic tradition, 5 star service where the staff anticipates your next need, fabulous food and ideal location is all on your hot button list, then Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Hotel in the heart of Rittenhouse Square should be your hotel when next in historical Philly.
Rittenhouse Square is notorious in Philly — in summer, there are plenty of fairs, festivals and markets and you’ll find people lounging about under trees, talking, relaxing, people watching or reading a newspaper. Nearby are fabulous restaurants, wine bars, cafes, small galleries, locally owned boutiques, high-end stores and craft beer pubs. The square was named after celebrated Philadelphian David Rittenhouse, and its modern layout was completed in 1913 to the design of Beaux-Arts architect Paul Cret.
Below, the entrance to the hotel — you can see how beautifully garnished it is in the summer months when the flowers are in bloom.
The Rittenhouse’s home has had many incarnations. At the turn of the 20th century there was a mansion where the Rittenhouse now stands. Living there were A.J. and Lois Buchanan Cassatt. A.J.’s sister Mary was a renowned painter and printmaker who travelled to France and had work selected and exhibited by the Paris Salon of 1868. In recognition of her remarkable story, Mary is the namesake of the hotel’s lounge, now renowned the world over for its exceptional Afternoon Tea. Who doesn’t love High Tea? Hey, I lived in England and South Africa for awhile and “Tea” is a special tradition. Apparently, the Academy of Notre Dame was also established here. In other words, it has a boat load of history.
Rooms differ in style, however there is a more modern version if you want to go that route, or something a little more classic (both pictured below). We had a Rittenhouse Square facing modern-styled room (first photo below) and they’re fairly spacious for a central city hotel — from 450 and 600 square feet. Of course, as is standard in a 5 star property, they had stunning marble bathrooms, plush beds with pillow-top mattress, duvets and king-size down pillows. They also offered entertainment on demand , free wifi, individual climate control, a separate vanity area (all women love this), bathrobes and slippers and 24-hour in-room dining, which is great if you’re up working late at night (or writing), which I often am.
Soap and shampoo come from Acqua Di Parma and the coolest feature we loved but forgot to take advantage of, was the overnight shoe shining service. Your shoes are apparently picked up at late at night and returned by 6 am. They leave a lovely elegant white card out for you that simply says:
“We would love to shine your shoes while you sleep.
Please leave this card with your name and room number inside your shoes before placing them outside your door.”
Another great feature even though it didn’t apply to us on this trip, is that they allow pets. Upon arrival, VIPs (Very Important Pooches) receive a complimentary personalized pet bowl and dog goodies prepared by their pastry chef . Dog sitters and walkers can be arranged through the concierge for a fee. Apparently, the Rittenhouse was voted #2 Hotel to Travel with Dogs by Delta Sky Magazine. There are some rules of course which are stipulated on their website and an additional fee, but for animal lovers who want the works, Rittenhouse has you covered.
If you have a sweet tooth, watch out for the temptations. There’s also a fridge with a bar full of apertifs, wine, beer and so on.
The Rittenhouse Club & Spa is a true standout, and is located on the premises. Luckily, I did have time (okay, so I made the time) for a service before we left. Frankly, it was one of the best facials I’ve ever had — be sure to read my write-up on the spa. They have a gym, an indoor pool with great ambiance and an outdoor sun terrace where you can tan during those hot summer months and catch great city views. (both pictured below).
Photo credits: above two shots, the below gym photograph and inside of the hotel room shots all from Rittenhouse Hotel website.
There’s a gym of course, which has everything you need, from Technogym Cardio and Strength Training Equipment, Kinesis One, Realryder & Peloton Cycling Bikes, Women and Men’s Sauna and Steam Facilities (a GODSEND – I loved it), Personal Training Featuring The Rittenhouse Club’s Three Tier Training Progression (for those with longer stays), Fitness Programming, Technogym Treadmills, Vario, Bikes & Elliptical Cardio Training equipment with 16″ full-screen interactive Web-based monitors, a Yoga Studio which I wished I had time to try and as mentioned above, an outside sun and fitness Deck and an Atrium indoor heated pool. They also offer classes, which include Body Sculpting, Pilates, Vinyasa Yoga, and Cardio Dance to name a few.
In and around the hotel, you can take lovely walks through downtown Philly, although you’ll also find some architectural gems nearby, parks and cafes in addition to a raw urban feel. You can change feels within blocks and it’s a really fun city to walk when the weather is great. I’d also encourage you to rent a bike if you have time.
I should also mention the fact that it’s a great hotel for business travelers. While it wasn’t a traditional business trip for us this time around, I saw many business travelers come in and out of the lobby and given its top notch service and additional amenities, it makes for a great choice if you’re traveling on business. It’s astonishing that not every hotel regardless of star or class, doesn’t offer complimentary wifi, but so many still don’t and want to charge you anywhere from $10-30 a day depending on where you are. Even if you’re on a luxury getaway or your company is picking up the tab, it’s so unnecessary. Bottom line: make it easy for your guests to get comfy the moment they arrive, and that includes not messing around with wifi charges, additional passwords and log-ins.
We also loved the fact that they offer a complimentary glass of sparking wine or a cappuccino in the Library Bar, which is no ordinary bar. Think old school England and you’ll be on your way to the right visual. Having lived in the UK for awhile and spent time in many hotels and pubs over the course of my stay, I got used to Chesterfield leather couches, heavy luxurious drapes in every room, pianos abound, chandeliers, afternoon tea, wooden walls and ceilings and classic old paintings. That ambiance is great for sipping on a glass of sparkling wine, brandy or whatever holds your interest.
Photo credit: Rittenhouse Hotel website.
If on business, you can also use the business center, the Rittenhouse Club with that fabulous pool and gym I mentioned above, take advantage of the early morning coffee and tea in the lobby, morning newspapers, and Premier luxury Jaguar driver service for drop-off within a twenty-block radius (upon availability of course). How classy and East Coast is that?
In addition to my fabulous spa experience and the over-the-top service, the food at their on-site French restaurant Lacroix was a true stand-out. Be sure to read my write-up on the restaurant — its worth browsing through the article just to catch a glimpse of their exquisite menu and delicious food photos.
Before I left, I noticed that they had a bit of a shrine in the middle of the restaurant – how cool is this? Feng shui at its best — in addition to my palette being as happy as a clam, it’s no wonder that I felt so relaxed during the meal despite our tenuous traffic-ridden drive from New York City. It was just the thing we needed to end our evening and a perfect introduction to Rittenhouse Hotel and to Philadelphia.
And, the service was…..over-the-top like every 5 star should be, but not all restaurants and hotels deliver on. Our needs were anticipated before they were needs, from the timing of our appetizers and main courses to the selection of wine, which I let their on-site sommelier select. Our waiter was also incredibly knowledgeable, passionate about food and wine and had a great sense of humor. Who doesn’t need that at the end of a long day? Simply eloquent! Would we return? You betcha! Two thumbs up!
210 West Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
T. 800.635.1042 or 215.546.9000