The Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia has historically been one of my favorite hotels in downtown Center City. This time, however, we experienced a few glitches that took it down a notch in my estimation. Not that I wouldn’t return, because I would. It just won’t be my obvious first choice when I stay in the Rittenhouse Square area. Still, this luxury hotel in the heart of the city offers a comfortable haven from the bustle of the city.
The first strike against the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia came when when we walked through the door. First impressions count, even when you’re familiar with a hotel. A check-in line snaking almost to the front door did not make a good one. Only one clerk worked the front desk. The infused water containers were empty. Luggage carts clogged the area next to the line so that hotel guests trying to get to the elevators had to excuse themselves to squeeze past us.
We stood in line for ten minutes or so before, miraculously, clerks and workers appeared. Two more clerks slipped behind the desk, and another employee filled the water. A bellhop moved a luggage rack or two. It’s as though the restaurant had called a staff meeting that ended at 4 pm on a Saturday, taking valuable employees from their jobs at a busy check-in time.
Fortunately, the upbeat clerk who helped us worked efficiently. Because my husband’s IHG status qualified us for a complimentary upgrade, she moved us to a room on the 22nd floor.
One of my pet peeves is when a supposed luxury hotel does not include a chair for a second person, as though only the person reserving the room matters. Although we had booked a simple king-size room, I expected that any room, especially an upgraded king, would have at least one chair for a second person. Instead, the only chair was at the desk by the window. Since my husband always claims the desk, I had to sit on the bed even when I didn’t want to sleep. The room had an ample entryway with a wall that blocked the bed, all wasted space. And no chair.
Now for the good stuff: housekeeping kept the room clean and neat, with a crispy made bed. In keeping with the urban vibe of the Kimpton’s Palomar branding, the décor created a contemporary yet relaxing environment.
As with many city hotels within older buildings, the bathroom felt somewhat old-school, with a tub and shower curtain instead of the more upscale glass-walled shower. I loved the purple geometric wall paper and the vanity counter large enough to hold cosmetics. Once again, though, I encountered an annoyance. IHG hotels, of which Kimpton is a part, has moved toward large refillable bottle for shampoo and body wash. At the sink, that meant no individual soap to wash my hands. I had to reach across the tub for shower gel.
Even though we didn’t face anything of particular interest, the view from the 22nd floor added to the ambience.
Public Areas and Amenities
Because the Palomar’s building once belonged to the American Institute of Architects and is known as the Architects Building, you can discover interesting features around every corner. Of course, Kimpton has added its own contemporary touches to meld the Art Deco past with contemporaray urban design.
The lobby has two seating areas, one near the front windows and another in front of a gas fireplace that burns even in August. As a testament to its comfort, people hang out there all day.
The hotel offers a daily wine hour from 5 pm to 6 pm. I liked that they offered, in addition to wine, a light vodka (very light on the vodka) spritzer to fight the summer heat. No non-alcoholic beverages were offered. In addition to the wine, The Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia puts out a bowl of truffle popcorn that guests can scoop into a provided bag.
The Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia is pet-friendly, and dogs accompany their owners everywhere. The hotel displays a pet guest list on a small chalkboard near the front desk. Cute!
Rooms contain a mini-bar, a yoga mat, and robes. If you sign up for a free IHG account, you’ll get Wifi access. In the morning, the staff sets up coffee urns that disappear around 10 am. Infused water containers remain throughout the day — as long as they are refilled.
The hotel has a restaurant, room service, banquet rooms, and a 24-hour fitness center.
The Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia is conveniently located near Rittenhouse Square, a popular shopping and dining district. Streets here are narrow and often one-way, so driving can get a little crazy. On foot, though, the location is within walking distance to much of what Center City has to offer. For example, the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia’s premiere performing arts venue, is a mere 10-minute walk as is the Reading Terminal Market.
Philadelphia’s major museums line the Ben Franklin Parkway, with the closest about 15 minutes on foot and the farthest, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, about 30. Most people would do well to take a ride share, taxi, or drive themselves to the farther museums.
If your main reason to visit Philadelphia is the historic district, then you’ll be better off choosing the Kimpton Hotel Monaco or the Renaissance Downtown Philadelphia in that area. From the Palomar, Independence Hall is roughly a 25-minute walk.
Yes, I would return to the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia despite some disappointments. It remains a great option when visiting Center City. Since hotel rates in Philadelphia can vary wildly for the same hotel and room from day to day, it pays to research options.
Debbie Lee Wesselmann