The Philly Ritz-Carlton wins, hands-down, best hotel entrance in the city: an imposing Greek temple portico that leads into a simply stunning colonnaded lounge and reception area modeled loosely after the Pantheon in Rome. (This was built as a bank in 1904–08. It opened as a Ritz in 2000.) Rooms are stacked into the tall, 1930s McKim, Mead & White–designed tower next door, anchoring the north end of South Broad across from City Hall itself. This hotel is very posh, and comes with that famous and formidable Ritz-Carlton level of professional, personalized service from an ever-helpful staff. As is often the case with a hotel retrofitted within an historic structure, rooms vary widely in size, but the best come with an amazing view of the Billy Penn statue atop City Hall across the way.
Beyond that jaw-dropping lobby—with nouveau American comfort food at the pricey 10 Arts Bistro off to one side—the room décor is getting a bit stale and frayed at the edges, but the hotel says it is planning a complete renovation soon. Repeat guests recommend that you pay extra for access to the Club lounge, a dark, clubby hotel-within-a-hotel with a dedicated concierge and free nibbles and drinks.