Banker and philanthropist Stephen Girard was a big deal in Philadelphia – he left more than $6million in trust to the city of Philadelphia, and in 1907 his estate commissioned the Lafayette Building. Now operating as Hotel Monaco Philadelphia after extensive renovation, the property is ideally placed for sightseers smack dab in the old city. I could see the Liberty Bell from my bathroom window – it doesn’t get much more historical than that.
The building’s weather-beaten façade has been lovingly restored, and the interior by Todd-Avery Lenahan, is full of bold pizazz, with extravagant printed wallpaper and deep rich colours that achieve a playful sophistication without too much gaudiness. Plenty of respect has been given to the heritage detailing of this lovely old property, too.
Of the public spaces, I enjoyed my time in the Red Owl Tavern – the watering hole offers some tasty bar fodder and good local draft beers – but my favourite spot was the Stratus Rooftop Lounge. Service is everything, and I enjoyed being the guinea pig for some of the skilled and friendly bartender’s experimental cocktails. The hotel has two private pavilions up top that are available for hire, different in style but both offering private bars that would make for great party venues. By the evening I’d done a bit too much nibbling on canapés to take a comprehensive run at chef Jorge Chicas’ menu, but the scallops I sampled were delish.
We’re hoping to make it back for the International Great Beer Expo at the end of May, but there are events throughout the year and if I make it back, the Hotel Monaco Philadelphia would be top of my list of accommodation.