You are currently viewing 2 nights in the heart of the action: A review of the W Philadelphia

2 nights in the heart of the action: A review of the W Philadelphia

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Philadelphia is known for several things: serving sumptuous cheesesteaks (I’m looking at you, Barclay Prime), being the birthplace of our nation and acting as the backdrop for the “Rocky” movies. But the City of Brotherly Love offers so much more, including several top-notch hotels, such as the W Philadelphia.

Eager to find a property for a weekend stay, the W Philadelphia immediately caught my eye. Its proximity to excellent bars, restaurants and shops meant I’d have lots of amenities within easy reach. Not to mention, its Living Room lounge and Wet Deck spaces looked promising.

If you, too, are planning a visit to America’s former capital, don’t sleep on this hotel. Here’s why you should consider a stay at the W Philadelphia.

What is the W Philadelphia?

The W Philadelphia is part of a global network of Marriott hotels. Several W properties span the globe, from Osaka, Japan, to Rome to Mexico City and beyond, though the majority of W Hotels are in the U.S.

W Hotels are geared toward a younger demographic and often feature dim lighting similar to what you’d find in a nightclub, as well as dark, bold decor.

Unsurprisingly, the vibe at the W Philadelphia is similar, offering a moody aesthetic with black and deep, rich red accents, plus textured wallpaper in the rooms, the common spaces and the elevators. Funky light fixtures and art throughout the property add to the ambience.

Combine the property’s cool, lively atmosphere with its proximity to many of Philly’s must-visit landmarks, restaurants and bars, and it’s safe to say the hotel serves as an eye-catching place to bed down while sightseeing and enjoying all the city has to offer.

Related: 11 best hotels for nightlife — from popular nightclubs to swanky lounges

How to book the W Philadelphia

I booked my stay directly on the W Philadelphia website. The process was straightforward and simple, taking less than five minutes to complete from start to finish.

You can opt to pay a cash rate or redeem Marriott Bonvoy points to cover your stay. When I made my reservation for a standard Wonderful room, the nightly room rate, including taxes and fees, was $363; alternatively, it would’ve cost 44,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night if I’d opted to pay that way instead.

If you drive to this property like I did, know that there is no self-parking option available. Unless you make your own parking arrangements off-site, you’ll need to use the hotel’s valet service, which will set you back an additional $60 per night (plus tax).

When booking the W Philadelphia, consider using a credit card that earns additional points for Marriott stays — preferably one that also offers automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status so you can enjoy value-added benefits — such as:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Platinum Elite status; and 25 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Gold Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Gold Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Gold Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Silver Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card: Earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program; automatic Silver Elite status; and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.

The information for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you’re looking to boost your points, miles or cash-back stash, you can also opt to book your stay with a travel credit card — like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card — to keep those rewards rolling in.

Related: Credit card transfer partners: Guide to transferring points and miles to airlines and hotels

Expect a central, lively location

This W property is in the heart of the action, located mere steps away from beautifully ornate Philadelphia City Hall and an array of shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and can’t-miss landmarks.

History buffs will enjoy visiting the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, which are only about eight blocks east, while foodies will find that they have within walking distance their pick of eateries that cater to every palate. The mix of nearby dining options will come in handy, as Dolce — the on-site restaurant — is not worth going out of your way to visit.

If you’re looking to explore other parts of Philly, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s 15th Street Station is less than a five-minute walk from the hotel, making the property a great option for those who don’t want to rely on a car or ride-hailing services to get around. The W Philadelphia is also within walking distance of restaurant-packed Rittenhouse Square — my favorite neighborhood in Philly — and other areas of interest, like the macabre Mutter Museum and the science- and technology-focused Franklin Institute.

While I chose to drive to the property, renting a car to get to the city center isn’t necessary. In addition to its proximity to all downtown Philly has to offer, the hotel is convenient to reach from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). If you’re flying in, allot about 20 minutes for the drive from the airport to the hotel.

The check-in process is speedy but personable

Checking into the W Philadelphia was about as straightforward as you could expect. My partner and I pulled up into the designated valet parking space right in front of the property and were promptly offered assistance in getting our luggage out of the car.

After a smooth transition from the car to the spectacularly decorated lobby, we were warmly greeted and offered a glass of green juice. The drink looked thick and generally unappetizing but tasted phenomenal — it was actually the best green juice I’ve ever had.

The common spaces throughout the W Philadelphia, like the lobby seen here, are beautiful. DAISY HERNANDEZ/THE POINTS GUY

While getting checked in, the receptionist asked me if I had ever stayed at a W property. When I shared that this was my first time, he mentioned upgrading our room based on availability. Though I had originally booked an entry-level Wonderful room, we were upgraded one room category to a Spectacular room on the 39th floor — quite high up considering this property features 51 floors.

In total, checking in took less than 10 minutes from the moment I entered the lobby to the moment I unlocked the door of my upgraded room.

Rooms continue the moody aesthetic

Upon stepping foot inside my room, I was immediately impressed with its overall layout and size. The 402-square-foot space matched the dark, moody design of the rest of the hotel while still offering tons of natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows.

I enjoyed the thoughtful touches throughout the room, including a vanity that allowed me to dim or brighten its lighting as needed and a small reusable towel for removing makeup. The vanity, which offered a lot of surface space and was ideal for laying out my toiletry bag and hair tools, felt a bit out of place, though, due to its location at the entrance of the room instead of within the bathroom.

As an aspiring morning person, I was so glad to see the in-room Nespresso machine, complete with pods, cups, creamers and stirrers. The room also had a minibar with snacks that included chips, nuts and chocolates, plus beer and miniature bottles of liquor (all for a fee).

One of my favorite room features was a remote atop the workstation that had five settings for different types of lighting:

  • Hello
  • Work
  • Mood
  • Glow
  • Sleep

Each option adjusted the lighting throughout the entire room, which was handy for both going to sleep and waking up. I didn’t have to walk around the room to flip every light switch and lamp on and off.

DAISY HERNANDEZ/THE POINTS GUY

As for the bathroom sink, it was sizable but featured a very short faucet and a moldy receptacle. Still, the large sink area was great for washing my face and brushing my teeth, though the faucet design was not my favorite.

Because of how short the faucet was, water splashed everywhere whenever I tried washing my hands since I had to place my hands right up against the side of the sink to get under the flowing water. I remedied this by stuffing a small hand towel in the area where water splashed the most, but it was still an inconvenience to maneuver around.

The bathroom was a decent size, with the toilet in its own section behind a dividing wall. The space featured a shower with a glass “door” (which was more of a divider; there were no actual doors attached to the shower) and offered a stream of low water pressure. There was a big temperature range for those who enjoy cooler showers (like myself) and those who come out of the shower looking like a lobster because they prefer the hottest possible temperature (my partner).

One noteworthy downside to the shower setup was that water splashed all over the bathroom tile whenever either of us showered. This presented a slip hazard, especially when reaching for a towel because the closest hook required us to fully step out of the shower to get our towels.

There were a few other things that weren’t ideal, including the dust-covered vent over the toilet and the bedroom window getting stuck when closing, but overall, the room was comfortable and well designed. My partner and I never got in each other’s way; I had an oversized desk to work from, and there was additional seating that made it so we didn’t have to sit on or lie in the bed while hanging out in the space.

As an added bonus, the wardrobe was a great size. It offered more than enough room for two adults to hang up their clothes while staying for a weekend.

DAISY HERNANDEZ/THE POINTS GUY

On-site dining is hit or miss, though the cocktails are superb

For meals, the W Philadelphia has one sit-down restaurant, plus a casual spot for coffee and drinks and a poolside bar for healthy drinks and snacks.

During our stay, we ate at Dolce, the full-service restaurant, for two meals: breakfast and dinner. The dinner options were decent and generously portioned, though the breakfast dishes we ordered left a lot to be desired.

For dinner, I chose the roasted half chicken accompanied by fennel, haricots verts, Campari tomatoes and crispy polenta ($31). The chicken was juicy and impeccably seasoned and featured a tasty piece of crispy skin. The fennel and green beans really upped the flavor in this dish, but the two small polenta cubes that came with it added nothing to the plate, as they were tasteless.

My partner ordered the lamb osso buco, which came on a bed of Parmesan risotto, broccoli rabe and roasted peppers ($46). The lamb and vegetables were flavorful, but the risotto fell short.

Where Dolce really stood out was with its cocktails. I enjoyed a cucumber gimlet ($18) with my meal, and my partner had a blood orange Old-Fashioned ($18). Both beverages were delicious and refreshing.

Our second meal at Dolce was breakfast on the morning we were set to depart the hotel. There were several options to choose from, including oatmeal, avocado toast, various egg-based dishes and even an acai bowl. We chose a Belgian waffle ($15) and French toast ($16) with a single cup of coffee ($4) and two sides of bacon ($12 total).

The best part of both of our meals ended up being the bacon. The waffle had no flavor aside from the side of syrup and the fresh fruit on top — the Nutella whipped cream topper offered no assistance in that department — and the French toast was equally bland.

During our stay, we also visited the Living Room, the hotel’s lobby lounge. Our cocktails here were fantastic.

For our predinner drinks, my partner and I ordered La Toxica ($17), a fruit-forward but not overly sweet concoction, and the Smoked & Ready ($19), which masterfully blended Earl Grey tea with ginger, scotch and bourbon. We also shared an Italian Market Espresso Martini ($18) and loved that it came with a miniature cannoli garnish.

If the hotel restaurant isn’t appealing to you but you desire more sustenance than the small plates available at the bars, know that room service is also an option. Available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. or 1 a.m., depending on the day, the extensive room service menu features an eclectic mix of food and beverages, including:

  • Fruit juices ($4 each or $18 for a pitcher)
  • Various sodas ($5 each)
  • Hot chocolate ($5)
  • Various types of milk, including whole, skim, almond, oat and soy (all options are $8 per glass)
  • Eggs Benedict ($17)
  • Bagels ($5)
  • A fruit platter ($12)
  • Smoked salmon ($8)
  • Roasted garlic hummus ($16)
  • Grilled shrimp lettuce wraps ($21)
  • Philly cheesesteak empanadas ($19 for 2 pieces)
  • Jerk crabcakes ($20)
  • A falafel gyro ($18)
  • An Angus burger ($21)
  • Pan-seared Atlantic salmon ($32)
  • Rigatoni bolognese ($25)
  • Pizza ($19)

We skipped the food items, but on our first morning we ordered four bottles of water ($2 each) and two cappuccinos ($6 each) via room service. Our drinks arrived quickly, though they weren’t delivered together. The water bottles came first, and the cappuccinos followed about 10 minutes later. The cappuccinos tasted watered down and were pricey, given the cups were only halfway full.

DAISY HERNANDEZ/THE POINTS GUY

Fitness buffs will appreciate the hotel gym

One thing the W Philadelphia does incredibly well is make the public spaces feel super luxe. For example, the 24-hour gym felt like an upscale, private fitness facility due to its spacious layout and variety of amenities.

In fact, the gym at the W Philadelphia is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The space — which houses a selection of cardio equipment, free weights and fitness accessories, plus extras like fresh towels, a water station and flat-screen TVs — was designed intentionally. Unlike so many other hotel gyms I’ve visited, this one was not tucked away into a corner as an afterthought.

Don’t miss the seventh-floor amenities

If you’d rather unwind than break a sweat, head to the seventh-floor Wet Deck. It offers a large heated pool, private cabanas, chaise lounges and cold plunge pools, among other amenities. Though the main pool is open free of cost for guests, the cabanas require a rental fee and have a minimum spend threshold you’ll need to agree to when making your cabana reservation. The cold plunge pools also require their own reservation.

One of my favorite hidden gems at this W property is the Secret Garden, also located on the seventh floor. This space features a fire pit and lots of seating. During my visit, it felt like a sanctuary completely removed from the bustling city a few stories below.

I regrettably didn’t get any treatments at the on-site spa — also on the seventh floor — but the space, which blends modern design with art deco details, looked like a perfect place to relax and decompress. Guests have the option to book massages, body treatments, facials, private fitness training and energy healing sessions. Depending on the season, you can also book specific packages designed to minimize the effects of environmental stress.

Reasons the W Philadelphia may not be for you

If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, the W Philadelphia is not the property for you. You can catch DJs on the weekend — one in the lobby and another at the Wet Deck. These areas essentially become nightclubs that draw sizable crowds; if that’s not your scene, you’ll want to avoid a weekend stay.

Accessibility

The W Philadelphia offers three types of accessible rooms — Wonderful, Fabulous and Mega — some of which are close to the elevators. They can be specially requested.

Here’s a breakdown of the accessibility features each room offers and how they differ:

  • Wonderful: These rooms offer roll-in showers, hearing-accessible features like visual alarms and notification devices for doors and in-room phones.
  • Fabulous: These rooms do not have roll-in showers but do come equipped with hearing-accessible amenities, such as visual alarms and door and phone notification devices.
  • Mega: This type of room offers roll-in showers and the aforementioned hearing-accessible features.

Additionally, the elevators are roomy, leaving ample space for wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

The hotel entrance is wheelchair accessible since it is at street level, and the transition from the indoor portion of the Wet Deck to the outdoor pool area is also wheelchair accessible. The Wet Deck pool has a lift as well, so guests who need extra assistance can easily enter and exit the water.

DAISY HERNANDEZ/THE POINTS GUY

Checking out

Overall, the W Philadelphia is a great property to stay at if you ever find yourself in the area. It’s close to historic landmarks, an awesome food scene and great shopping. Not to mention, it offers several top-notch amenities to enjoy while lingering on-site, including a small urban oasis and an impressive fitness center.

I would certainly stay at this property again, and next time I’d leave time to take advantage of the pool, spa and gym. If you are into a lively ambience, want to be near world-class dining — or simply a good old-fashioned Philly cheesesteak — and wish to be in the middle of a bustling city, the W Philadelphia checks all those boxes.

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