Since I began this column a few years ago, I’ve provided readers with several “favorite” lists that pay tribute to local and regional leisure activities consistently among the most impressive in their respective categories. These lists have covered outdoor excursions, LGBT special events, holiday attractions and summertime destinations. In gathering material and inspiration for this week’s article, I reviewed these past columns and noticed a glaring omission. Despite their diversity, quality of service, LGBT friendliness and importance to local residents and tourists alike, I’ve never offered top recommendations for hotels.
As a strong sector of the local economy, Philadelphia’s hotels provide space for special events, top-tier restaurants and innovative architecture that keeps our streets and skyline evolving. Most importantly, the experiences of Philadelphia visitors at the hotels are largely responsible for stimulating tourism, making an impression that keeps guests coming back. The following list recognizes my top picks in Philadelphia’s hotel game, with a special twist for spring and summer. I hope you enjoy! Favorite LGBT-friendly staff: Loews Hotel Philadelphia, 1200 Market St., (215) 627-1200; www.loewshotel.com.
The Loews Philadelphia is spectacular from top to bottom, but it receives especially incredible reviews from LGBT visitors. The staff is accommodating, respectful and accessible. The way you are treated upon checking in to a hotel sets the stage for your entire trip, and gay and lesbian visitors are always made comfortable by the Loews staff.
Favorite rooms at the best price: The Independent Hotel, 1234 Locust St., (215) 772-1440; www.theindependenthotel.com.
The Independent Hotel is the most recent hotel addition to Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. The design is progressive, the rooms are spacious and the amenities are some of Philly’s best. It successfully combines the intimacy of a boutique hotel with the professionalism of a major chain.
Favorite view of the city: XIX, Hyatt at the Bellevue Philadelphia, 200 S. Broad St., (215) 790-1919; www.nineteenrestaurant.com.
Many local hotels are home to critically celebrated restaurants, but none is more spectacular than XIX. Located on the top floor of the Hyatt at the Bellevue, it includes two exceptional dining rooms bracketing an amazing bar. With the recent addition of an outdoor space and new windows, XIX provides breathtaking views of Center City’s skyline.
Favorite lounge for happy hour: Sofitel Philadelphia, 120 S. 17th St., (215) 569-8300; www.sofitel.com.
Though it’s a world-famous hotel chain, the Sofitel Philadelphia has all the accouterments of a European boutique hotel. On the ground floor, adjacent to the lobby, is the bar and lounge. The happy-hour cocktails and food specials are phenomenal, and its position in the middle of Philadelphia’s business district makes it the perfect happy-hour destination.
Favorite specialty summer drink: Cucumber Cocktail at 1682 Restaurant, Hotel Palomar, 117 S. 17th St., (215) 563-5006; www.hotelpalomar-philadelphia.com.
If you have yet to stop by the new 1682 Restaurant in Hotel Palomar, this needs to be a top priority on your social “to do” list. Once there, you must try the Cucumber Cocktail — hands down the most refreshing specialty drink I have ever had: a simple concoction of fresh cucumber, vodka and lime juice.
Favorite spa/salon: Ettoré Salon and Spa, 1201 Market St., (215) 928-9010; www.ettorespa.com.
Ettoré Salon and Spa is gay-owned and -operated by an exceptional team — brothers Ettoré and Gary Mastrodi. In a time when many local businesses have folded, Ettoré Salon and Spa is thriving due to innovation, exceptional leadership and outstanding customer service. Ettoré’s location on the ground floor of the Marriott Downtown makes the wide range of personal grooming and wellness services equally accessible to residents and visitors.
Favorite brunch: Four Seasons Hotel, 1 Logan Square; (215) 963-1500; www.fourseason.com.
The Four Seasons is known across the globe as one of the best luxury hotels. The Four Seasons Philadelphia is situated on the Ben Franklin Parkway with amazing views of area museums and cultural attractions. And if you’re a brunch-lover, there is no better place to go than the Swan or the Fountain.
Favorite outdoor patio: Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing, 201 S. Columbus Blvd.; (215) 928-1234; www.pennslanding.hyatt.com
The Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing features an outdoor patio with some of Philadelphia’s most expansive views. Whether facing the water or the city, it’s an incredibly relaxing patio that’s removed from the hustle and bustle of Center City, while being easily accessible from all locations throughout Philadelphia.
Favorite place for visiting parents of LGBT residents: The Alexander Inn, 301 S. 12th St., (215) 923-3535; www.alexanderinn.com.
Most LGBT transplants to Philadelphia have family or friends visit the city at one time or another. If your guests prefer a hotel to your couch, put them up at The Alexander Inn. The Gayborhood’s most historic boutique hotel has it all — fantastic service, beautiful rooms and reasonable room rates. And it’s central to historical attractions and retail shops, as well as a variety of gay restaurants and bars.
That’s it for the “Hotel Hot List.” As you embrace springtime over the next two weeks, don’t forget that Nightlifegay.com’s Mr. Gay Philadelphia competition is right around the corner on April 17 at Voyeur Nightclub, 1221 St. James St. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, be mindful that this event has sold out each of the last three years. Advance VIP tickets, which will guarantee you a seat close to the action, are $50, and advance general admission passes are $25. Tickets can be purchased online at www.Nightlifegay.com/tickets; at Charlie Salon, 203 S. 12th St., and at Metro Men’s Clothing, 1615 E. Passyunk Ave. A limited number of VIP and general admission tickets will be available at the door for $60 and $30, respectively. For more information, visit www.nightlifegay.com.
Feel free to send questions or feedback to [email protected]. ’Til next time, get offline and see what your community has to offer!