This elegant-modern hotel has been locked in a genteel, decades-long battle with the Four Seasons for the title of top hotel in Philadelphia. The Rittenhouse might actually be winning, if only for the super-comfy beds and down pillows in the truly large rooms, the legendary service from the impeccably trained staff, and the luxury of twice-daily housekeeping and turndown service. Not that the Rittenhouse rests on its many laurels. It is constantly improving and renovating, unveiling new large, light-filled and modern Park Suites in 2013, and welcoming a brand-new, expanded health club, spa, and salon in the spring of 2014.

The Rittenhouse also makes a strong play for the family clientele, with a free toy for tykes younger than 10 (and a copy of "Goodnight Philadelphia"), a free in-room movie with popcorn for tweens and teens, and discounts on tickets to the zoo, aquarium, and Please Touch Museum

Lacroix, with its avant-garde cuisine and second-floor views over leafy Rittenhouse Square park, is good enough that even locals come here to eat. It's great for breakfast (try the french toast on brioche made in-house); dinners consist of four- or eight-course tasting menus. A Smith & Wollensky on the ground floor caters to the upscale steak-and-potatoes set.  There's also the Mary Cassatt Tearoom and Garden (the famed Impressionist painter's brother once lived in a mansion on this site) and the chic Library Bar (when you check in you get a coupon for a free glass of bubbly or cappuccino).