Fodor's Expert Review Renaissance Philadelphia Downtown Hotel
401 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19106, USA, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA See on Map
This totally revamped Renaissance property has a stunningly high-design lobby that mixes in modern with colonial touches for a Benjamin Franklin theme. There are nods to both Franklin and France in its kitchen: Chez Ben and bar: M. (for Madame) Brown's, a sexy aged liquor bar. The spacious rooms, many of which overlook bustling Old City, have free wireless Internet, boutique stylized furniture, flat-screen televisions, and Franklin quoted alarm clocks. All are decorated with clean whites, deep blues, and cream colors. This is a stylish boutiquey base for visiting the nearby art galleries and cafés, as well as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other sights.
Rooms are spare and hip with black walls and Franklin modern art paintings, posters, and sculptures. Mahogany desks and red chaise lounges are accented with luxury lamps. They all have the comforts of individual climate control, down or feather pillows, luxury bedding and linens, cable TV on flat screen, and a view of either the Independence National Historical Park or the city. Two bottles of water are provided daily.
YOU SHOULD KNOW There is no refrigerator but you can request an empty one if you need it.
Bathrooms are slick with white tiles and black painted walls. Aveda products are provided. Any other amenities are available upon request. All rooms have a tub or a shower, but not both.
The modern, artsy lounge is high-design mixing colonial and modern and it's both cozy and striking. It has low lighting and art on display and for sale from three local curators: The Clay Studio, National Picnic, and 36 Craven. M. Brown’s, the lobby bar has a painting of an afroed woman with love written in the background is a stunning centerpiece and a symbolic personification of Philly. The front desk is graffiti themed. There is comfortable open seating.
On the lower level is a chic indoor heated pool, towel and lounge chairs are provided, it's open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The pool while very stylish is quite small and doesn't have natural light.
The 24/7 gym has cardio equipment and free weights as well as towels and a water fountain and is across from the pool. Fitness classes are available for a fee and personal training services are available but front desk staff insists neither are available. There is a whirlpool in the fitness center. A third party comes and does the training for the fitness center. There are classes and trainers. You can book through front desk for fitness classes and trainer.
Chez Ben is an elevated, contemporary French Brasserie with a cafe counter with quality coffees, fresh juices and pastries for an la carte breakfast-or choose the Parisian or American breakfast. For lunch and dinner, it serves locally sourced food with a slight French twist like steak frites, and mussels. They also have a raw bar and full bar with Franklin themed drinks (some of his favorites like Franklin Sangaree) and specialty themed cocktails like "Philly 75" or "Go Fly a Kite."
Gold and Platinum Marriott membership get free breakfast.
M. Brown's is a long-aged brown liquor bar with upscale signature libations paired with small plates (seven-item menu) It's open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. or closing time (2 a.m.) on occasion. It attracts outside guests for its high-design, glass windows and low lighting (and the portrait.)
There is a Happy Hour, times vary, ask the concierge for details.
There is a taxi stand at the hotel so no need for uber or lyft unless you prefer it (concierge recommends it, I say support Philly's cab drivers. The subway, SEPTA Market Frankford Line (blue line) is at 5th Street is a 4-minute walk and takes you East and West across the city. To get to the stadiums or neighborhoods up north take the orange line, a 23-minute walk and maybe worth a drive instead.
Buddakan (1-minute walk) is an iconic pan-Asian themed restaurant with a giant golden Buddha. Amada (3-minute walk) is Jose Garces' Spanish tapas masterpiece. Fork (4-minute walk) is a Philly classic sleek and modern serving New American and a popular brunch.
Old City Beer Garden (5-minute walk) is an outdoor summer-only beer garden with music and games and local beer on tap. Sassafras Bar (5-minute walk) is a romantically lit global food & drinks bar. The Olde Bar (6-minute walk) in the Old Original Bookbinder's, Jose Garces serves seafood and recreates a saloon with retro drinks.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Renaissance owned by Marriott is known for creating hyper-local modern art hotels and they did a fantastic job in overhauling a standard hotel and bringing it to a boutique local luxury level. The style and attention to detail from Franklin themed cocktails and B.F. themed modern art in the rooms is appreciated. It's chic, hip and ultra-modern. Staff is helpful and a concierge is usually around to answer questions, one offered to get milk and cookies for kids at the nearby bakery if needed.