By Laura Koster
For an impromptu romantic escape, Philadelphia beckons as a destination time and time again. A fast train ride from NYC lands you in the heart of a city alive with appealing sites, restaurants and activities. Like the Van Gogh exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (through early May) and the increasingly popular Philadelphia Beer Week in early June.
On our most recent jaunt, we descend into the city of brotherly love to our destination for the weekend, The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia. Situated on the Avenue of the Arts across from City Hall, the hotel is set in one of the most historic buildings in the city.
Formerly the Girard Trust, this landmark’s soaring columns offer a grand welcome to guests. Inside, The Ritz-Carlton has juxtaposed the bank’s incredible architecture with the vibrant hues and modern designs of the celebrity-chef driven 10 Arts and its lounge, which serves as the main focal point of the lobby. Abuzz with business discussions and happy hour goers, the place exudes a refined, yet relaxed vibe.
Our luxurious suite is situated on a high floor, with far-reaching views of the city. We start the evening with a glass of wine and light bites in the Club Lounge, situated in the bank’s former boardroom.
In addition to it guestrooms, The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia offers a selection of special suites, which are worth the splurge for a romantic getaway. The ultimate of which is the Penthouse, encompassing the entire 31st floor of the building. If its two bedrooms, den, kitchen and elegant dining space weren’t enough, this sprawling abode also comes with its own private elevator.
But the hotel’s Presidential suite – our place for the weekend – certainly rivals. The suite’s rooms wrap around a majority of the building, offering sweeping views that are especially spectacular in the evening. From living and dining room to an incredible marble bathroom (check out the bath butler services) , it could be easy to happily hide-away here all weekend long.
But we’re not one to miss out on a night out. Walk into the hotel here and you’re just steps away from one of the best reservations in the city.
10 Arts Bistro & Lounge is head by celebrated Chef Eric Ripert of NYC’s Le Bernardin. His Philadelphia destination is its own unique concept. The aforementioned vibrant lounge is situated underneath a sky-high dome and surrounded by towering columns, and seems the place to congregate for early evening cocktails. Live music, offered Wednesdays through Fridays, attracts quite a crowd.
Just steps away from the lounge sits 10 Arts’ dining room – our dinner destination. Chef de Cuisine Nathan Volz leads the kitchen along with Chef Ripert, offering refined modern American cuisine. Locally sourced and sustainable ingredients shine on the plate here.
Highlights of our dinner include wild striped bass with sautéed winter greens and a garlic ginger broth. Homemade crispy ricotta gnocchi with carbonara sauce, bacon and broccoli is an indulgent – but absolutely necessary start to the meal. The addictive bourbon caramel and caramelized apple beignets are served warm from the kitchen, a melt-in-your-mouth dessert.
To note, 10 Arts offers special menus during lunch and dinner that benefit Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization. At dinner, it’s a five-course tasting menu priced at just $59 per person ($95/with wine). Lunchtime brings a ‘timely’ three-course tasting – designed to get you in and out before your next meeting.
After some serious wining and dining, the next afternoon’s focus is a little relaxation. We set our sights on the recently renovated Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon, located on The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia’s third floor. The Spa offers a variety of luxurious massages, body treatments and facials. The Intimate Romantic Interlude package spoke to our weekend. Rejuvenation started with a glass of champagne, followed by side-by-side deep Swedish massages, followed by pedicures.
The Spa was busy that Saturday afternoon, with a bride and her bridal party busily preparing for her wedding. Seeing how conducive the hotel is for everyday romance, I can only imagine the weddings orchestrated at this grand hotel. The Grand and Petite Ballrooms – I took a quick glimpse – are luxe from floor to ceiling with marble columns, silk wall coverings and crystal chandeliers. And views of Philadelphia’s City Hall, of course.
A few final notes to guide your stay at this pristine property—Take advantage of the numerous overnight package offers that are available. The Art of Romance package includes luxurious accommodations, an in-room amenity of hand-dipped chocolate strawberries and a bottle of Prosecco, followed by a plentiful breakfast for two the next morning.
Another package fitting for a quick escape is the Friday Night in the City package, which includes valet parking and a one night in a deluxe or executive suite at an excellent rate. Both packages are available through the end of this year.
For more information and rates, please visit www.ritzcarlton.com/philadelphia or call (215) 523-8000