Fodor's Expert Review AKA University City

2929 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104, USA See on Map

Alyssa Pinsker

AKA University City is Philadelphia’s premier ultra-luxury hotel and apartment residences. Located on the top 18 floors of Brandywine Realty Trusts’ FMC Tower at Cira Centre South – “Philadelphia’s first vertical neighborhood” - AKA University City has 268 luxury hotel and apartment residences. AKA’s signature sleek, contemporary design, robust lifestyle offerings and guest services are elevated to new heights, introducing never-before-seen luxury accommodations to the city of Philadelphia.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Because 165 of the 268 suites are residences, your full-service hotel experience can get a little confused with the residence experience (plus there is an office building entrance on the other side also attached to the building) so a bit too much in one. No one of a kind theme boutique hotel experience respites here.


One-bedroom residences at AKA University City are fully-furnished and range from 715 to 818 square feet. Living areas feature 10-foot finished ceilings and some of the city's best panoramic views. Suites boast Italian design, wide-plank Italian white oak flooring, luxurious natural fabrics and a King bed with 500 thread count Sferra Italian Linens. In-suite fully stocked kitchens offer yes, Italian cabinetry and premium stainless steel appliances.


Marble-clad bathrooms feature a sleek glass shower and AKA brand white tea scent bath products. Bathrooms include Stevalli brand, custom-made, Italian thermoplastic laminate vanities; floor to ceiling tempered glass shower enclosures; and a Grohe Concetto Pressure Balance Valve Shower Combination head.


Also designed by the Italian Lissoni Associati, the minimalistic lobby with floor to ceiling windows resembles an office building reception area, as the actual office building reception entrance lies around the corner. However, in reality, understated Pietra D’Avola natural stone tiles, a floating wood ceiling, Formglas concrete panels walls, some leather chairs and a white marble concierge desk are there where you check in with the Resident Services Team who serve as 24/7 concierges.


Philadelphia’s highest and largest indoor “pool in the sky” is infinity-style surrounded by contemporary lounge seating and floor to ceiling windows, offering 400-feet in the air views of the city. However, it can feel a bit suffocating and exposing (imagine coming down in your robe) as its enclosed on the other side of the windows is a busy walkway. But if you're an exhibitionist, it's a dream come true.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Because it opens to the elevators on the amenity floor, it's enclosed by glass doors facing a hallway with business meetings next door in the business rooms on one side and meeting rooms on the other side, suit-clad guests walking make it an awkward location and not a popular hangout spot in the hotel.


There is no spa but the fitness center offers a variety of massages provided by an in-house team in the single massage room.


Again surrounded by picturesque skyline views of the city, Level 28’s sleek fitness center is centered around state-of-the-art Technogym equipment, Peloton Cycle bikes, rowing machines strategically placed to overlook the Schuylkill River, a glass-enclosed yoga and stretching studio, a private spa-like treatment room, private men’s and women’s locker rooms and nine different styles of semi-private group classes, led by instructors from Weston Fitness and Revolve Athletics.


The Michelin-starred team behind New York’s Pearl & Ash run Walnut Street Café, the partner restaurant available on the ground level rat FMC Tower at Cira Centre South for guests. The all-day café has an upscale accessible American menu, terroir-driven wine list, and inspired pastry program from acclaimed pastry chef Melissa Weller. You must try the kouign-amann, a breton croissant that is thicker, richer and divine. Walnut Street Café provides in-suite dining for guests of AKA University City, who can also have the food delivered to their suite.


Patrick Cappiello is the award-winning sommelier who curates Walnut Street Café’s wine program. The resto offers 120 bottles in both classic and emerging wine regions, favoring small production, hand-crafted wines that, in most cases, employ organic or biodynamic farming methods. All bottles on the wine list are available by the half bottle, and over 50 selections of by the glass options will rotate on a frequent basis. David Powell, formerly of Death & Company, Pearl & Ash, Raines Law Room, and The Bennett, crafts the cocktail menu. Coffee is provided by local Rival Bros Coffee, featuring a selection of custom house roasted blends from carefully sourced single-origin beans.

On May 1st a full-service bar on the lifestyle club level will open during membership hours.


Getting Around

Leave the car at home, because AKA Offers a Tesla model X town car and driver for guests (for a price.) Or, it's a 2-minute walk to 30th street station which offers free regional rail passage to Suburban Station (15th Street) and Jefferson Station (11th street) and connects to all regional rail hubs.SEPTA's Market Frankford Line stops at 34th street and travels North and South through the city for your major stops.The 21 and the 42 busses are at the base of FMC (30th and Walnut) and run East and West.Free shuttles are available for AKA guests and run from 38th street to 15th street. A porte-cochere allows for easy Uber/Lyft pickups for guests but calling one is up to you or ask the concierge.


A local institution since 1983, particularly a West Philly institution, White Dog Cafe (11-minute walk ), is an award-winning contemporary local, seasonal, sustainably raised American Cuisine resto known for and friendly service. Co-op (9-minute walk) is a seasonal local American dining experiment inspired by maritime and agricultural community lifestyles of the past.


World Cafe Live is an independent music venue in the University City (1-minute walk ). Set in a renovated Art Deco factory building, "WCL" Philly offers the best local, national and international artists on two stages to its loyal fans since 2004. In addition to over 500 shows annually, World Cafe Live offers great food and beverages daily. Pod (15-minute walk) from Steve Starr is an ultra-modern conveyor sushi/pan-Asian restaurant that has an ultra-hip lounge, where guests gather to sip colorful cocktails, people-watch and catch up with friends.


AKA University City undoubtedly has the best 360-degree views of the city and in an uber-luxury apartment-style setting. The Italian interior design and architecture may be imported by AKA was born and bred in Philly. The amenities are impressive like an in-house cinema( a.cinema), a private theater with fully automated leather seating, complete surround sound, and curated film screenings or a 3-D indoor golf simulator featuring some of the world’s most renowned courses. Still, it feels like an uber-luxury office building or a chic place to do business, the vertical urban park is a work in progress for yoga and more stunning views.


130 rooms, all suites
Breakfast yes
Lunch yes
Dinner yes
Bar yes
Cafe yes
Room Service yes
Gym, Pool
Valet Parking


Phones: (215) 372-9000

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