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Despite being sandwiched between Washington DC and New York and being the fifth largest city in the US, Philadelphia is often overlooked by the hoards of tourists who descend on the East Coast. Much more than the stomping ground of the Fresh Prince and Rocky Balboa, this Pennsylvanian metropolis has all the multiculturalism of a big city but with small-town charm. From skyscrapers to gritty neighbourhoods and quaint, colonial streets reminiscent of western Europe, “Philly’s” architecture – however clichéd – marries old and the new, reflecting the meeting and merging of cultures.
Often described as “the city of neighbourhoods”, Philadelphia holds something different in every corner. For a walking history lesson, hit up the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall then meander through the old town, where you can walk along the first residential streets in the US. For something a bit more lively, South Street is your go-to. Loud, eclectic and always buzzing, this is the place to experience the city’s diverse music, food and art scenes. You’ll find everything from the best cheesesteak (if you dare get into that debate) to the Magic Gardens – a mosaicked environment by artist Isaiah Zagar – jostling for space between music venues, independent cafés, bars and jewellers. Over in the Fairmount neighbourhood, it’s all red-brick townhouses with colourful front doors and open grassy parks. It’s here you’ll also find the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where you can channel your inner Sylvester Stallone by running up and down the museum’s famous steps before browsing the vast collection. In Fishtown and the Northern Liberties you’ll stumble upon the city’s creative hub, the chosen hangout of artists and cool cats, with no shortage of interesting restaurants and bars.
Your best bet is to stay in or near the centre as it’s walkable and safe, with good transport links to the rest of the city. Hotels tend to be more on the business side in Philadelphia but are still affordable and well-situated, though Airbnb offers some great options. Put Will Smith and Eye of the Tiger on your playlist and you’re good to go.
From the spacious rooms, the lobby and the decor to the service, the Palomar is a high-end choice – think lush velvet seating, cosy fireplaces, spa suites and artworks throughout the building. A renovated art-deco building, the hotel is centrally situated and easily to reach from major attractions. Make sure to get a room high enough to enjoy views over the city’s skyline.
- +1 888 725 1778
- Go to Website
Tucked away on a quiet, leafy street and in strolling distance to the gorgeous Rittenhouse Square, Rittenhouse 1715 is an elegant and intimate hotel. Perfect for anyone after a bit of old-school charm, the hotel boasts an eclectic mix furniture, fireplaces and luxurious materials. Fresh continental breakfasts are included in the price, as well as daily wine and cheese receptions.
- +1 877 791 6500
- Go to Website
The Morris House
A luxury boutique hotel built in 1787, The Morris House Hotel gives guests the very charm and history that so many of them come to Philadelphia for. Tucked away Washington Square Park, the colonial-style building boasts a courtyard garden, which especially comes to light in the summer months and is ideal to enjoy the restaurant’s five-course meals, as well as artisan cheeses.
- +1 215 922 2446
- Go to Website
The Morris House Hotel
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