Story by Jeff and Stephanie Sylva
Interior Photos by: Chris Molina for Kimpton Hotels
Exterior Photo by: Gensler
Location, Location, Location. With rooms that offer views of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, street-side dining, a hip rooftop lounge and an array of unique amenities, the Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, one of the Kimpton Hotels newest members, beckons visitors to Philadelphia’s historic old city. What impressed us was that the Hotel Monaco is so much more than an upscale hotel with luxury accommodations.
Our King Spa room was luxurious and comfortable without being overly elegant. But comfortable, luxurious rooms can be found in any number of more upscale hotels. It is the warm, welcoming hospitality and special touches that made our stay so memorable.
The Hotel Monaco, a boutique hotel like all Kimpton hotels, exhibits an intriguing “old meets new” design. Housed in the classic-styled architecture of the Lafayette Building (which had been vacant for a number of years), the hotel sports a theme inspired by the eccentric, discerning world traveler who has collected items from around the world. This theme is quite evident in the living room lobby which gives guests a sense of being in the home of a global traveler.
With a number of modern, contemporary accents, the hotel exhibits an eye-catching juxtaposition of old and new. The abundant use of vibrant colors and textures, coupled with playful décor and bold prints, gives the hotel a whimsical, even at times quirky, feeling. This whimsy is reflected in a number of ways, such as the copy of “Alice in Wonderland” found in every room and in the bathrobes found hanging in each room’s closet – one in a wild animal print and the other designed to recall the robe worn in the ring by Philadelphia’s most famed fictional boxer, Rocky.
Before you stay at any Kimpton Hotel, be sure to register with the Kimpton InTouch Guest Loyalty program. It’s free to register, and InTouch members get some great perks like free Wi-Fi, a “Raid the Bar” perk that gives you $10 to spend in your room’s mini bar or at the restaurant bar, and your favorite newspaper delivered to your door each morning of your stay. Check the website for special deals and discounts.
These perks are just the start. Mornings at the Monaco begin with complimentary coffee, teas, and homemade apple cider donuts. Of course many hotels have this perk – but how many offer a daily hosted wine hour? It was a delight to return to the Monaco after a day’s sightseeing in Philadelphia and settle into a comfortable couch in the Monaco’s Living Room lobby and enjoy a glass of wine.
Another thing that really separated the Monaco from other hotels was the hotel staff’s devoted attention to making our stay as enjoyable as possible. Whether it was a doorman, front desk concierge, a waitress, bartender or manager, everyone was eager to be friendly and helpful. Staff eagerly answered questions, gave information about a museum or attraction, and offered suggestions about different attractions and sights to see in Philadelphia.
Guests traveling with pets will love the Monaco. The hotel is pet friendly with separate pet-free floors for those with pet allergies. There are no size or weight restrictions for pets. Pet bowls and a pet bed are placed in your room, and a VIP (Very Important Pet) amenity is delivered to your room upon arrival. A dog leash and plastic bags for dog walks are provided. Pet sitting, grooming, walking and massage services can be arranged through the concierge.
The Hotel Monaco is family-friendly as well. Upon arrival kids get to pick a toy from the “welcome wagon.” The hotel also has a “Guppy Love” feature. A goldfish is delivered to your room to keep kids company for their stay. Hotel staff will feed and take care of the goldfish. Kids also get to use a “Wild Child” animal print robe during their stay.
Other features designed to make family-travel easy are child equipment rental including, strollers, bouncy seats, and scooters; child safety kits with various safety devices like outlet covers, toilet latches, and nightlights; and cribs and playards delivered to your room. Kid-friendly dining in the restaurant or for in-room dining is featured, and high chairs or booster seats are available.
Travelers looking to attend to their fitness will love the hotel’s on-site, fully-equipped fitness center. Those who would rather remain in the privacy of their own rooms can request the complimentary “Roll-Out Service” which includes a roll out yoga mat in each room, extra towels, flavored water, assortment of fresh fruit, and the TV turned to Kimpton’s on-demand yoga or Pilates channel.
The Hotel Monaco also provides two complimentary workout classes for its guests. On Wednesdays at 6:30 a.m. a “Lithe on Location” class, which incorporates innovative props and specialty equipment in an invigorating 60-minute class toning and sculpting the entire body. On Thursday mornings at 6:30, the Monaco’s very own doorman Thomas Govens (“T”) utilizes his years of boxing experience in his heart-pounding cardio workout “Total Knockout with T” (“TKO with T” for short).
You can get some outdoor exercise on one of the hotel’s complimentary bikes or make use of the customized jogging maps of the area. Maybe you just want to go fly a kite (you know, to channel the spirit of Ben Franklin). Just ask and the hotel will provide you with an old fashioned kite – perfect for flying in Independence Park right across the street.
The hotel’s signature restaurant, the Red Owl Tavern, continues the old/new theme, as it incorporates existing and new materials, utilizing brick and exposed structural steel, for a hip yet casual atmosphere. This chef-driven restaurant is an upscale deli and butcher shop selling hand crafted gourmet sandwiches and burger by day and wood-grilled roast-house specialties by night. One such specialty is the sausage, which is made on site and changes daily. We found the dining experience to be excellent with very friendly, attentive service and excellently prepared food.
The other venue at the Monaco which has developed a lot of buzz is the Stratus Rooftop Lounge. With two of the building’s ornamental corner pavilions reclaimed into intimate enclosed lounges; a large outdoor patio with a Japanese maple surrounded by bench seats and a 30 foot-long fire wall; and an enclosed bar area with a cast-in-place concrete bar, shared seating on large couches, and oversized glass garage doors that open to the expansive terrace, the Stratus is a cosmopolitan, chic gathering spot unlike any other in Philly. The “signature” cocktails that we ordered at Stratus provided a perfect finishing touch to our evening.
The Hotel Monaco Philadelphia reflects Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants’ commitment to offering the traveler an escape destination with a level of welcoming hospitality and an array of amenities that make guests feel truly cared for, not simply provided a place to stay when away from home.