After returning home from a one night getaway in this hotel (to visit the fantastic Van Gogh Up Close exhibition in the Art Museum) I am now reevaluating hotel rates in general - what is it exactly we are paying for when we are booking hotel accommodations: the room/suite itself, the service, the location, the view?
How do I rate the hotel in general if all the listed factors vary greatly from each other?
We have had a similar experience before, also in Philadelphia. The Palomar (a Kimpton hotel) had a fantastic spa room I greatly enjoyed, but the service was not up to par.
Here, in the Rittenhouse Hotel, it was the other way around: the staff was indeed superb and flawless in every way (every single one we met), but the rooms were not quite meeting our expectations.
The 2nd room was adequate (after we moved from the first which had not been to our liking), but we have had bigger and better rooms (and suites!) elsewhere for HALF the rate we paid for a "deluxe room" at The Rittenhouse.
So is the prime location worth the prime rate? Or the view onto neighbouring buildings and the park? Or does the outstanding service justify the outrageous rate?
The deluxe room 912, while kept up over 20 years, seemed outdated. The furniture had chips and nicks, and the curtain even had a burn hole from a cigarette! (Since when is this property a Non Smoking property? For how long has this hole been there already?)
While this was not disturbing us, the very high price was simply not matching the room's condition. It was absolutely clean, but it seemed strangely outdated. The style was very pleasant, and I would keep that (so this is not about fashion!), but when things get damaged or worn, they should be replaced. Especially at a rate like The Rittenhouse's!
If we had paid around $200-250 for this room, I would have been absolutely happy and would have simply ignored the chips, nicks and the burn hole. But with over $500 per night (incl. museum tickets, valet parking, breakfast for 2, taxes and fees we paid $517) you are really getting onto another level here, and I am afraid that their rooms are not worth that price.
Now that the Hersha Group (owner of properties like Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn etc) recently bought The Rittenhouse Hotel (March 2012), maybe they will take some steps to refresh the rooms.
I had serious doubts that our first (small looking) room really had the advertised 600 sqft, in fact I suspected that a mistake had been made and we had mistakenly been put into a "superior room" (their term for standard room).
The front desk reassured me that our room indeed was a "deluxe" room (one step above "superior") and that it really had the advertised 600 sqft, only the layout was different from room to room, and therefore it looked different than the picture online.
But without me asking they were looking for another room right away, found one, and a servant led me there to evaluate it.
On the way to the new room he asked me whether I had seen the large bath room, and he mentioned that its huge space is counting to the room's square feet measurement. I had seen the bath in the first room we were put in and had to tell him that they were actually not big at all, and that I was actually a bathroom nut who chooses hotels by their bathrooms, and that I am usually staying in hotels who offer spa bath rooms. And those spa bath rooms were really not comparable with the Rittenhouse bath rooms. He was a bit silent after that and then we changed the subject.
I found their bathrooms really kind of ordinary. Separate shower stalls are standard today, and the low tub was not comparable to anything other hotels would offer nowadays (google "Fuji tub" to see what is out there in other hotels). It even lost its water while I was still sitting in it (seal was not tight).
But we greatly enjoyed the 2 corner windows we had in deluxe room 912, which was actually laid out pretty well with its furniture, and it felt indeed spacious.
The vanity section between the room and the bath was also designed well. Make up mirror and big dressing mirror were helpful, and the free Fiji water and the fresh nuts were a nice greeting, along with a welcome card from the management.
Another plus was the free Internet (wired and wireless), the turn down service with robes and slippers and LaCroix chocolates, and the generously sized tubes of Aromatherapy toiletteries. They also offered complimentary shoe shining over night.
I was looking forward to swim in their pool, as hotel guests are having free access to the Adolf Biecker Spa, but alas, it was closed during our stay. Management had left a note on the desk about it with an apology, and it offered a shuttle to the Bellevue's pool, but I knew that one already from my birthday trip last year. It would have been too much of a hassle, and since we had only one night, I forsook the swim.
I actually would like to return to this property, if they'd offer a good deal. You know, if they had a loyalty program which would offer perks and exclusive offers to members only.
Oh, I forgot - they do have that already - but unfortunately it costs $150 yearly to join the "Access Level" and even $1200 yearly for the "Leaders Club Unlimited Level"... (Seriously!)
So where will I stay next time in Philly?
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Forbes Four Star Award winning Rittenhouse Hotel is rated one of the top hotels in the world as well as #1 hotel in Pennsylvania by Travel + Leisure. The Rittenhouse has an ideal location directly on Rittenhouse Square for business or pleasure. Guests may walk out with easy access to boutique shopping, restaurants and the Center City business district is just steps away. The guestrooms at the Rittenhouse are the largest in the city, the smallest measuring 450-600 square feet, with views of Rittenhouse Square or University City. Guests enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, overnight shoe shine and newspaper delivery to their room. Lacroix at the Rittenhouse is one of the top restaurants in Philadelphia with panoramic views of Rittenhouse Square. Immerse yourself in an oasis of relaxation in Center City with a menu of massage and salon services, spa packages and fitness center at the Rittenhouse Spa, Salon & Health Club with hair by Paul Labrecque. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Rittenhouse Hotel Philadelphia
- Rittenhouse Hotel Philadelphia
- Rittenhouse Philadelphia