The new W Philadelphia puts context front and center

Brotherly Love

Strategically located in the center of the Northeastern metropolis, the recently opened W Philadelphia sits in a class all its own. Towering above many of the city’s historic sites—the late nineteenth-century, Second Empire-style city hall most prominent among them—the new 51-story hotel incorporates a slew of stand-out amenities and bold design accents. This latest accommodation helps shake up Philadelphia’s somewhat stiff luxury offering with a scheme that honors the city’s enduring artistic and musical legacy, if not also it’s defining culture of gritty irreverence.

A view of the William Penn Statue atop Philadelphia City Hall from W Philadelphia’s top floor WOW suites (Courtesy W Hotels Worldwide)

Established in the late 1990s, the W Hotels Worldwide brand has set itself apart by breaking convention and developing experience-driven properties that situate within their surroundings rather than follow a set cookie-cutter model. Each of its 60 methodically-designed venues reflects local idiosyncrasies and celebrate different facets of these storied locales. Recently acquired by Marriott International, the brand has been able to expand on this unmatched approach with the W Philadelphia as a shining example.

The ground floor Living Room Bar (Courtesy W Hotels Worldwide)

The secret Stevens' Prophecy lounge (Courtesy W Hotels Worldwide)

Philadelphia is the quintessential city for a W hotel—rebellious, unexpected and original,” says Tom Jarrold, global brand leader of W Hotels Worldwide. “Its diverse neighborhoods and rich history attract travelers from around the country and the world and we are excited to put our unique stamp on its luxury hotel scene.”

The 7th floor Secret Garden terrace (Courtesy W Hotels Worldwide)

The WET Deck Pool (Courtesy W Hotels Worldwide)

designstudio ltd’s overall concept for the properties’s numerous public and private spaces—the Living Room lobby, Stevens’ Prophecy saloon, outdoor pool-adjacent WET Deck Bar, 7th floor Secret Garden, fully-equipped AWAY Spa, LDV Hospitality-run Dolce, and 295 guest rooms—focused on commemorating the city’s place in 1970s music history. Rich tones and gilded accents are juxtaposed by metal grills patterns that evoke Philadelphia’s prototypical city grid. Various decorative elements include custom luminaire enclosures that feature unique graffiti motifs spelling out portions of the Declaration of Independence. Paying homage to different parts of town and it’s strong international influence, as well as its unique urban design, the hotel comes together in these cohesive interiors.

The step-down Living Room references the sunken gardens of nearby Fairmount Park. It offers up coffee from local artisan roaster Rival Bros in custom ceramics by Philadelphia-based houseware and design studio Centerpeak during the day. By night, this space transforms into a cocktail lounge and serves craft cocktails conceived by local mixologist Resa Mueller. Hidden behind the main bar is the exclusive Stevens’ Prophecy saloon outfitted with bespoke artworks and design features that honor Hollywood legend, Monegasques princess, and Philadelphia native Grace Kelly. The vignette was deftly themed based on her high school yearbook and aspirations to attain stardom. A green and blue pixelated tile motif—inspired by a classic French parterre pattern—adorns the WET Deck pool and WET Deck Bar, only to be accentuated by unique server uniforms furnished by local fashion brand Grant BLVD—a Black-owned sustainable fashion brand that upcycles vintage clothing. 

The living room portion of one of the few Fantastic Suites (W Hotels Worldwide)

While a cleverly positioned mosaic of a young Benjamin Frank can be spotted overseeing the hedged rows of the Secret Garden, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette film serves as inspiration for the color-scheme in the adjacent AWAY Spa. This tranquil yet engaging matrix of treatment rooms, lounges, and beauty bars champions socialization and the trisected concept of detox, retox, and repeat. Encapsulating the complex is a wall clad in traditional Philadelphia slate roofing. A full gym completes the hotel’s FUEL Your Stay program. 

Sweeping views of the city from the hotel’s top guest room and suite levels (W Hotels Worldwide)

Perhaps most important for the hotel is it’s well appointed guest rooms and multi-tired suites. Pennsylvania craftsmanship is evident in the amble use of Shaker-style chairs placed within integrated workstations. Signature W Beds are made up using custom Philly Toile bedding kits. In true W Hotels Worldwide fashion, throw pillows depict Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE statue on one side and the word LUST on the other. Suites include open plan bathrooms with luxurious soak tubs, Danby marble, and Chesterfield-style furnishings. The hotel has the only private guest balconies of any hotel in the city. The half-floor WOW and Extreme WOW Suites go even further with spinning beds, plush T.V. nooks, custom foosball tables, and in-room DJ booths.

Tying everything together is a strong focus on the hotel’s art programming. Works by emerging talents that call Philadelphia home feature prominently throughout the property. Developed based on the theme of “collective Independence,” various pieces are grouped in salon-style displays that nod to the impressionist and modern art collections on view at the Barnes Foundation, down the road.