I grew up in Philly and have about five family overnights per year there as many of my relatives remain there. I have stayed at all the major hotels in Philly, previously settling on the Sofitel before moving on to the Palomar as our goto hotel. Kimpton is my favorite hotel operator by a mile, and I always try to stay in Monacos and Palomars when I travel for business.
So you can imagine how pleased I was to find out that a Monaco was opening in Philly. I immediately snagged reservations there over Thanksgiving and Xmas. For Thanksgiving we secured corner suite for our family of four and a basic King room for my mother-in-law. The hotel was new, and the restaurant newer, when we stayed over Thanksgiving.
My expectations were high, and they were exceeded. The Philly Monaco is now my favorite Monaco (Baltimore, of all places, and Portland are now runners up). It is also my favorite hotel. Period.
Design: Like other Monaco's I've stayed in, the building is landmark-esque and has high ceilings. As per the Monaco brand I guess you can call it maximalism - flamboyant yet classy, modern yet warm. The pictures capture the gestalt of the design but not the quality and distinctiveness of every piece of furniture. The lobby is wonderful and very chill. It’s a good place to read the paper, get some free morning coffee, or meet up with others before going out.
Rooms: Wow. Even my hard-to-please, design-obsessed mother in law was blown away. Our suite had one nice touch after another, so much so that it’s hard to pick favorites. The sectional white leather couch, half of which opened up into a sofabed, and the adjacent comfy white leather chair, was mine. The bathroom with soaking tub my wife’s favorite.
The location is ideal even if you’re not a sightseer. The area west of Broad Street (which is about seven blocks up) has better shopping but is more 'generic city,' while the Society Hill area in which this hotel is located is distinctively colonial, charming, and rich with history. We managed to spend some in-between time throwing a football right in front of the hotel, in the expansive independence park, with the liberty bell on one side and independence hall on the other.
View: We had a direct view of Independence Park, with a view of Independence Hall (where it all began) if I were to sit in the comfy white leather chair in one corner of the room. I think that some reviewers who complained thought that they’d be gazing directly on Independence Hall.
Service: Check-in was very smooth. That evening the ‘turndown specialist’ came up within minutes of our requesting to have our sofabed made up. She couldn’t have been more personable, professional, and efficient.. The real test came at checkout. The hotel was very crowded (Black Friday), we had lots of baggage to load into two cars, and we had to transfer a large rug between the cars before departing (long story). They handled it all perfectly, and with a smile.
Amenities: the fitness room is brand spanking new with good equipment, TVs, and peaceful view with the occasional passing horse drawn carriage. We did have an unfortunate experience with room service , and service at the restaurant, but I’m chalking that up to the newness of the place (even relative to the hotel), but in the spirit of the holidays I will give them a chance to redeem themselves over Xmas, after which I’ll submit a follow-up review.
In sum, the Monaco has the coolness of the coolest design hotels without the pretentious and indifferent staff that sometimes comes with the territory. It adds to that the grandeur and elegance of a luxury hotel, but without the stuffiness.
Our family can’t wait to return over Christmas.
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