Review: Hyatt at the Bellevue Philadelphia

Last weekend my wife and I had the opportunity to stay at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia, an historic hotel in Center City that dates back to its original luxury in 1904. It opened decades ago as a lavish set of rooms used by 15 presidents and famous people of all sorts. After some hard times and changes in ownership, it has been well-renovated and currently has over 700 guest rooms and 55 suites, and has access to a world-renowned exercise facility called the Sporting Club.

If you want to stay at this hotel you can either spend upwards of $300 per night or you can do what we did: transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points and redeem for 15,000 points per night, earning over 2 cents/point (a great award value according to the Points Guy).

The room was quite spacious, with a very comfortable bed, well-sized bathroom (although a slightly smaller bathtub than we are used to), with a small mini-fridge, tea/coffee making materials, and even came with an air filter. It turns out we were given a hypo-allergenic room without even asking for it. It was very well received.

Because of the hypo-allergenic nature of the room, the bathroom was also filled with non-scented, high-quality toiletries. My wife was so excited that we didn’t have to worry about strange smells affecting her asthma!

The odd thing about the hotel is that there is a large courtyard/atrium area in the middle that some of the rooms face. It gives the sense of having an outside-facing room, without the actual outside-facing window. Also, it meant that we did not look over the city, unfortunately. I imagine you could spend more money and have a nicer view.

Our stay was overall quite pleasant with one notable exception: the temperature in our room was incredibly cold when we went to sleep and it took about an hour to resolve the issue. For some reason our heater was not pushing out warmer air, so we asked for extra blankets. It turned out that even though there are hundreds of rooms at the hotel, due to two weddings they were completely full and had no extra blankets. When we finally realized it was the heater at fault, the engineer came and fixed the situation within 10 minutes, and then we were able to get to sleep. As they were very professional, the next morning the woman at the front desk told me that they were crediting 10,000 points back to my account (essentially giving us around $200 back). I am glad she offered without being prompted – that is a very classy institution.

In summary, we are definitely going to return to this hotel when we have another opportunity. It was very comfortable, centrally located, and had very kind employees, despite the heat/blanket issue.




Review: Homewood Suites by Hilton Philadelphia – City Ave

My wife, her grandmother, her great aunt, and great uncle all spent two days in Philadelphia to join my family in celebrating Chanukah together. It was such a lovely experience to be with both sets of families in my home of origin. And we made such tasty treats for Chanukah! Amazing!

But, really, this post is about a review of the location we stayed for those two nights: Homewood Suites by Hilton in Philadelphia – City Ave branch. We chose this hotel since it was relatively inexpensive, came with a free breakfast, and was close enough to my parent’s house to be conveniently accessible by car.

The check-in process was so-so. For some reason the room for my wife and me screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-8-07-15-pmwas ready but the room for the elders was not, despite us arriving at 4pm (their check-in time). We had to wait 30 minutes for the room to be prepared, and later I overheard from the service staff that it was not even completely ready. Unfortunately, it got worse in their room (more on that later).

Our room was pleasant – a studio suite with full amenities in the kitchen. It came with pots, pans, dish ware, glasses, and utensils to use had we wanted to cook anything. The refrigerator came in handy later on when we had leftovers from my parents. The bed was quite comfortable and the desk area had a supportive chair. The TV was on a swivel stand, allowing you to watch from either the bed or the sitting area. Finally, the bathroom was stocked with only a few bottles of shampoo (no moisturizer, which disappointed me).

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A big plus of this location was the quality of the breakfast in the morning. There were a variety of cereals, milks, fruits, drinks, and hot dishes (waffles, eggs, potatoes, bacon, etc.). We enjoyed the meal thoroughly, spending more time there than we really needed to.  The seats were comfortable and there was plenty of space (even on Saturday morning). It was a little on the early side (6:30am-9:30am) but still worth it to wake up.

Additionally, there were meals offered from 5-7pm on Monday-Thursdays. They were not the most robust, of course, but they existed and they came with free beer and wine.

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Back to the room issue, briefly. The elders were in a room that was incredibly cold overnight. While they didn’t complain that night they did the next morning and it took quite a lot of time to organize a different room. I was disappointed since this hotel was directly connected to another Hilton that we could have moved them to easily. The combination of the not being ready at check-in and this issue makes me wary of staying there again the future. Watch out: you might get what you pay for.