The real deal: Why the new Four Seasons in Philly is the perfect weekend getaway
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Since it first opened, I’ve had my eyes set on visiting the new Four Seasons Hotel in Philadephia.
Having gone to college in Philly, I watched as the Comcast Technology Center sprouted from the ground. At a cost of $1.5 billion, this 60-story mixed-use tower in Center City is the tallest in Philly — and houses the new Four Seasons hotel on its top floors.
Though I’m now based in NYC, I still have a soft spot for Philly. I love the city’s exploding dining scene, manageable downtown area and proximity to major Northeast cities.
So, I thought what better way to celebrate my birthday than a weekend trip back to Philly? My fiance and I had a great time as a guest of the resort, and what follows are my impressions of the tallest hotel in North America.
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Top-notch COVID precautions
After months of lockdown, I slowly restarted traveling throughout the summer and fall. At first, I exclusively took road trips — to the Miraval Berkshires and Topping Rose House in the Hamptons. I then started flying again, with trips to California, Colorado and even Dubai.
Throughout my travels, I’ve seen a range of anti-coronavirus measures at different hotels.
The Four Seasons in Philly was one of, if not, the best at how it handled its safety program, called Lead with Care. Every guest and employee got their temperature checked by an automated, minimally intrusive machine upon entering the ground floor.
There were social distancing decals on the floor throughout all the common areas.
Plus, there were posted signs of the maximum capacity and all the various safety precautions at each turn.
In addition, there was a wellness pack in every room, with two surgical masks, two bottles of hand sanitizer and two refreshing pads.
But most impressive to me was mask compliance. As data continues to show that the coronavirus primarily spreads through respiratory droplets, it’s more important than ever to ensure that masks are worn appropriately above the nose and mouth.
At this hotel, both the staff and guests all wore their masks correctly. And during the few times that guests weren’t wearing masks correctly, the staff politely approached them to ensure 100% compliance.
The nicest Philly hotel
For years, the hotel scene in Philly has been quite average. Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott each have a few properties, but none really fit into the five-star category.
Enter the Four Seasons. This is easily one of the nicest city-style resorts in the country, and definitely the most luxurious in Philadelphia.
While the Four Seasons doesn’t participate in a major loyalty program, it is a member of American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders can enjoy a host of amenities with every booking, including complimentary breakfast, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, upgrades and a $100 spa credit.
In addition, through the end of the year, Fine Hotels and Resorts guests can enjoy a complimentary third night when booking a stay of three nights or longer.
Upon entering the lobby, your eyes will immediately appreciate the towering 360-degree views of the entire metropolitan area.
In addition, you’ll also be drawn to the Jeff Latham-designed floral display that rotates each season. (Insert joke here about landscaping.)
The front desk gives way to two of the hotel’s dining outposts — JG SkyHigh and Jean-Georges. With floor-to-ceiling windows, this is the perfect place to sip on a cocktail or indulge in a meal. (Note that indoor dining is now banned in Philly.)
Vernick Fish is the hotel’s third restaurant located on the ground level by the entrance.
The rooms themselves are located on floors just below the 60th-floor lobby.
They’re a bit small for a brand-new hotel, but the finishes are the nicest in the city.
Aside from the signature Four Seasons bed, I greatly appreciated the On the Rocks Cocktails stocked in the minibar.
I could easily spend hours up here sitting on the couch or chaise lounger soaking in the sun, high above the hustle and bustle on the city streets.
The pool was a great place to relax in the morning and right around sunset, while other guests were sleeping or getting ready for a night on the town.
In addition to the pool, the hotel features an incredibly well-equipped fitness center designed by celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak. There were plenty of weight machines for every muscle group, as well as a range of bands and free weights for those looking to tone.
In addition, I particularly appreciated the variety of cardiovascular machines, including a Woodway treadmill and Peloton bike. Even though we were the only ones in the gym, mask compliance was enforced.
In between the pool and gym is the hotel’s spa. Featuring seven treatment rooms, as well as a relaxation lounge, the spa was quite crowded during our stay, both with hotel guests and local residents.
Due to COVID-19, all employees wear masks as well as face shields, and guests must wear face coverings throughout their treatment.
There are also two gender-specific locker rooms, with a sauna and steam room, but they’re both closed due to COVID-19 precautions.
Convenience to major cities
As the coronavirus continues to spread, everyone will need to assess their own risk tolerance for travel.
But if you’re avoiding planes and sticking to ground transportation, the Four Seasons in Philly is an easy getaway for many.
Located just about 90 minutes from NYC and within driving distance of both Boston and Washington, D.C., the hotel is well situated for a large chunk of the population in the Northeast. Plus, 30th Street Station is just a few short blocks away from the hotel, if you’re comfortable taking a train.
If you’re driving, note that valet parking is quite pricey at $58 a night. There is a Views and Valet package on offer that includes complimentary parking with your room rate.
There are also other holiday-themed offers, like the Experience More package that includes a property credit.
Speaking of the holidays, the hotel has a variety of themed workshops available to guests, including floral design, gingerbread house decorating, cocktail making and more.
Once in Philly, you’ll be in the center of all the attractions. There’s even a Tesla Model X house car available for all your pickups and dropoffs within a 1.5-mile radius of the hotel. The car gets fully sanitized after each guest, making it a safer alternative to a Lyft or Uber rideshare.
How to make it a weekend
While some might prefer to spend an entire weekend confined to the hotel, the Four Seasons is a great launching point for exploring local attractions.
I’d highly recommend walking through Center City and Fishtown. Along the way, be sure to stop at Mike Solomonov’s all-day K’Far Cafe, featuring an assortment of pastries and inventive toasts. Note that Solomonov also designs the menu at the Amex Centurion Lounge in Philly.
If you’re a coffee fan, you’ll definitely want to visit La Colombe in Fishtown — the flagship store for this Philadelphia-based roastery.
If you’d prefer some outdoor exercise, take a walk or run along the Schuylkill River Trail, just a few blocks away from the hotel.
And when it’s time for dinner, try to get into Zahav, Solomonov’s flagship restaurant. With an open-air, heated patio, Zahav is still whipping up its delicacies in a COVID-safe environment. (Just be sure to make your reservation well in advance, or Platinum cardholders can take advantage of the new reservation benefit.)
With a modern, state-of-the-art design, the Four Seasons in Philly soars above the clouds and towers over its competition.
The rooms are tastefully appointed, and the hotel’s amenities — infinity-edged pool, fitness center, spa and four restaurants — are all top-notch.
At just over a year old, the Four Seasons Philadelphia is the city’s flagship hotel.
All photos by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
Note: The author was staying at the hotel on a discounted/free rate given by the public relations team.
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