Historic Hotels of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love”, may very well be the most historically significant city in the United States.  It was there that the Declaration of Independence was signed and the United States born.  This was not a coincidence; at the time, Philadelphia was the social and geographical center of the original thirteen colonies.  And during that colonial era, it was the second largest city in the British Empire, the first being London itself.  In fact, up until the year 1800, Philadelphia was the capital of the United States.  If American history is what you seek, it’s hard to go wrong with Philadelphia.  And what better way to get your start than by staying in a historic hotel?

Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue Photo courtesy of the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue

Park Hyatt Philadelphia

Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue

Where its at: Broad & Walnut Street, Philadelphia [map]

What’s its story: When Prussian immigrant George Boldt was hired to run the Astoria hotel in New York City, he soon decided that Philadelphia needed a hotel that could rival the best New York had to offer.  The Bellevue-Stratford would open in 1904 and soon become the “must” place to stay in the city.  The hotel featured a concierge on every floor, and maids specifically hired to pack departing female guests’ luggage, so their clothes would not be wrinkled.  The hotel also featured a theater, a library, Turkish baths, business services such as typists and stenographers, a bank, travel offices, a florist, the list goes on and on.  In its prime, the Bellevue-Stratford became the social center of the city itself.

Why you should want to stay there: This 172 room hotel is overflowing with history, yet today is run by Hyatt so offers all of the conveniences available to today’s travelers.  A philosophy George Boldt definitely would have approved.

What else does it have: The Park Hyatt Philadelphia at The Bellevue offers upscale shopping, fine dining, a day spa, complimentary access to a 93,000 square foot fitness club, 24-hour room service, and many other amenities.

The Morris House Hotel

The Morris House Hotel

The Morris House Hotel

Where its at: 8th & Walnut Street, Philadelphia [map]

What’s its story: The Morris House was built in 1787 and served as home to various members of the Morris family for 120 years.  Several of those Morris’s have held esteemed roles in the Philadelphia community, right down to Anthony Morris, who in 1685 became mayor of Philadelphia.  Although the home was completed after American independence had been won, the house is distinctly colonial.  It’s interesting to note that the house was brand new during the time Philadelphia served as the capital.  Today the house is still considered one of the finest examples in Philadelphia of colonial residential architecture.

Why you should want to stay there: Unlike the larger hotels, The Morris House is much more cozy and private while still located close to Philadelphia’s historic attractions.  Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are only two blocks away.

What else does it have: Luxurious rooms with 600 count cotton sheets, Egyptian cotton towels, Godiva chocolates, and free wireless internet.


Latham Hotel

The Latham

Where its at: 17th & Walnut Street [map]

What’s its story: Constructed on the original site of the home of William Bucknell, a famous philanthropist in the 19th century, the Latham was originally an apartment house that opened in 1915.  At the time, it was widely considered to be one of the best places to live in the city.  In the 1960’s, when many hotels were being converted into condominiums, a group of investors decided to convert The Latham Apartment House into The Latham Hotel.  Opening in 1970, the hotel has continued to serve its place as a well-respected Philadelphia landmark.

Why you should want to stay there: The Latham is a one of a kind, boutique hotel in the center of Philadelphia.  A 10 minute walk or cab ride will reach any attraction in the city.  The hotel is especially well liked by business travelers who enjoy the historic, posh address coupled with all of the modern conveniences the hotel has to offer.

What else does it have: The Latham features full service business and fitness centers.  For spa treatment, the hotel is within two blocks of not one, but four of Philadelphia’s best spas.

The Thomas Bond House

Where its at: 129 South 2nd Street [map]

Thomas Bond House

Thomas Bond House

What’s its story: This 1769 town house was home to Thomas Bond, the American physician and surgeon who co-founded with Benjamin Franklin the first medical facility in the American colonies, Pennsylvania Hospital.  Thomas Bond’s house has been meticulously restored room by room to recapture the 18th century Federal Period of the United States.  It is now used as a bed and breakfast.

Why you should want to stay there: This is the only lodging located within Philadelphia’s Independence National Historic Park.  It has been selected as one of the top 25 best historic inns in the country by “American Historic Inns”  The Thomas Bond House has also been featured in numerous publications as well as on NBC’s “Today Show”, which awarded it as one of the top five best big city deals.

What else does it have: Continental breakfast on weekdays with full breakfast served on weekends.  Evenings include complimentary wine and cheese.  This is an old fashioned bed and breakfast, so it does away with modern business amenities.

Philadelphia is more than just a city with fantastic cheese-steak and pretzels.  History abounds in every neighborhood, and by staying at a historic hotel, one can experience that history from the moment they arrive.  Philadelphia is a must for any traveler seeking to experience the early history of the United States.

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Flickr/Lisa Andres