If you are the kind of Philadelphian who understands that our civic forebears extend beyond the Founders, you might not be surprised to hear that the new Hotel Monaco—in a building erected by the estate of Stephen Girard—has tucked a few nautical elements into the design as a nod to the philanthropist sea captain. But even the most serious historian probably wouldn't guess that one of those nods would include an enormous crystal chandelier made in the style of a tall ship.
The entryway chandelier is one of a series of cheeky surprises guests will find at the TAL Studio-designed Monaco. Others include purple-velvet-lined elevators; closet walls adorned with quotations from style icons dishing fashion advice; and hallways adorned with vintage Mummers portraits. To say nothing of the shock guests get when they settle into a Japanese soaking tub, look out of the adjacent window and realize they're staring down onto Independence Hall.
The newest Kimpton property—in the historic Lafayette Building—boasts 268 rooms, including 27 with the aforementioned soaking tubs. General Manager Nick Gregory reports that they expect to host more than 50 weddings a year in the hotel's entertaining spaces, which include two ballrooms—one named after Girard and the other after General Lafayette.
If you prefer your dinner and drinks without small talk and forced dancing, the Red Owl Tavern and Stratus Lounge are on site. Both overseen by the same chef, the ground-level Red Owl serves upscale American and the rooftop Stratus Lounge has its own unique menu. The Stratus' focal point is an outdoor feather sculpture beside a giant fire pit. The space is flanked by two named pavilions—Vapor and Mist—that offer indoor seating under roofs designed to look as if they are being ripped open and curled back.
Gregory insists that the Stratus is not a club, and not your typical Old City hangout. While the hotel is considering allowing reservations at some of the seating areas, Gregory says the point is to be inclusive. No velvet ropes. "It's a game-changing space for the neighborhood" (cue the sounds of thousands hoping he's right).
One of the biggest surprises about Hotel Monaco—named not for the European nation, but for a word meaning "world travelers"—is that it's the only place in the city with "tall" rooms. The beds are longer and the standard animal-print robes are gown-length. Gregory says they're marketing the rooms to NBA teams in town for away games (fans, park it at Stratus now).
Gregory says they expect a corporate crowd during the week and a social one on weekends, which pretty much mirrors patterns at the Palomar. The hotel opened Thursday and was sold out on Saturday. "It's not just for tourists," he says.