Here's a quick guide to hotels in the downtown area (known to locals as "Center City") as well as some options outside the city.  With good values available through several channels, including visitphilly.com, it is strongly suggested to stay in the Center City area for most tourist related activities.

Hotels in Recommended Areas: Center City

 Most of Philly's hotels are clustered in the Center City area and are convenient to tourist attractions.  

   Historic Area    The "Old City" neighborhood is most convenient to Independence Park and the Liberty Bell. It's also a good base for visitors headed to a concert at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden.  Hotels here include the Hotel Monaco (opened 2012), Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District (formerly a Holiday Inn), Omni Independence Park, Society Hill Sheraton, Best Western Independence Park Inn, and Hyatt Penns Landing.  Other lodging choices include the Thomas Bond House (bed and breakfast) and the Penn's View Hotel (small boutique hotel).

   Convention Center Area Convention Center visitors will find any of the three Marriotts (Courtyard, Residence Inn, and Downtown) and the Loews very convenient.  These hotels are also fine for tourists and walkable to the historic area.  There is also a Hilton Garden Inn in this section, adjacent to the Marriott Courtyard.  Chinatown, Reading Terminal Market and Macy's are close by.

   Avenue of the Arts Area Broad Street, also known as the "Avenue of the Arts" is a centrally located area, and is home to the Kimmel Center, the Academy of Music, and several other theaters, and is close to upscale shopping and restaurants.  The Doubletree, Ritz Carlton, and Park Hyatt Bellevue hotels are right on Broad St.  This area is also convenient for those planning to take the subway to the stadium area to see a game or concert.

   East of Broad-Midtown Village Area East of Broad Street, you're in Midtown Village (affectionately known as the "Gayborhood"), a quirky mix of residential, shops, restaurants and bars, where you'll find some smaller hotels like the Independent and the Alexander Inn.  These hotels are also a good base for tourists and business people.

   West of Broad-Rittenhouse Square Area  West of Broad Street consider the Sofitel, Westin, Palomar, and Sonesta.  These hotels are convenient to upscale Rittenhouse Square, a city park that's right in the middle of expensive condos, shops, restaurants and bars.  Also in this neighborhood, consider the Lippincott House Bed & Breakfast.

   Benjamin Franklin Parkway Area On the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (the large avenue lined with colorful flags that runs between the art museum and City Hall),  you'll find the Four Seasons and the Embassy Suites (always a good option for families).  These hotels are most convenient to the Parkway museums (Academy of Natural Sciences, Franklin Institute, and a longer walk away, the Art Museum).  The only hotel that's really close to the Art Museum is the Best Western Center City, but it gets terrible reviews, so please stay away from there.

Hotels in Areas Outside Center City

It is not usually a good idea to book a hotel outside Center City. In some cases, there may be a specific reason for staying in a less central location, or cost/hotel availability is a concern. Those areas are summarized below.

   University City Hotels:  This neighborhood is home to the Hilton Inn at Penn and the Sheraton University City.  Convenient area for visiting Penn or Drexel.  University City is just west of Center City, across the Schuykill River (pronounced Skoo-kul by most locals).  From here you'll need to take public transportation or a cab to the tourist attractions.

   City Avenue Hotels:  City Avenue is the borderline between Philadelphia and the suburban area known as the "Main Line."  Not too convenient for sightseeing, because from here you must either drive (15-20 min) or take public transportation (Route 44 bus) to Center City.  However, this area can be a good base for college visits because it is a stone's throw from St. Joe's and a short drive to Penn and Drexel.  Crowne Plaza Philadelphia West, Hilton Hotel and Homewood Suites are here. Avoid the American Motor Inn. 

   Airport/Stadium Hotels: There's nothing really to see or do in the airport area, and it's not convenient to tourist attractions.  The Marriott hotel has the convenience of being connected to the airport, and the rest of the hotels are a shuttle ride away. The closest hotel to the stadiums is the Holiday Inn Philadelphia Stadium.  May be a convenient choice if you are just coming for a game or concert.

   PA and NJ Suburbs: Some suburban options include King of Prussia (convenient to King of Prussia Mall and Valley Forge Park), Plymouth Meeting, Ft. Washington,and Mt. Laurel NJ.  While you may find some hotel bargains in these areas, the costs savings may not really be worth the inconvenience of having to drive into Center City (and during rush hour many routes are congested) as well as the hassle and high cost of parking in the city.  For college visits to suburban colleges like Villanova, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore, the Radnor Hotel in St. David's is most convenient.