Rittenhouse Hotel, Philadelphia

We’re just back from a weekend visit to the City of Brotherly Love, where we checked into The Rittenhouse Hotel (www.rittenhousehotel.com). The 98-room, AAA-Five-Diamond property overlooks Philadelphia’s historic Rittenhouse Square and has hosted A-list stars including Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis (in fact, Washington and Hanks called the hotel home while in town shooting their film Philadelphia).

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Throughout the hotel, rooms ending in the No. 08 offer the best views of Rittenhouse Square. Our own deluxe guest room, No. 508, boasted separate sitting, work and dressing areas and a sizeable bathroom, not to mention a colossal king-size bed. Personal Touch: We arrived to find twin plates of homemade chocolates, our names artfully inscribed with chocolate along their rims. Request this elegant touch for an extra-special guest.

Suites are suitable for families, but if you’re sending your own VIP, request the Presidential Suite or the Chairman’s Suite. We took a look around the Presidential Suite, where just weeks before, insiders told us, President Bush sat down with Mikhail Gorbachev for a top-secret tête-à-tête. The sprawling suite is rich and warm, awash in tones of gold, burgundy and caramel, and features an elegant four-poster canopied bed, a baby grand piano, a large dining area/table and a second connecting bedroom. Luxury travel advisors should contact Front Office Manager Lucia Pernot ([email protected]; 215-546-9000) or Director of Sales and Marketing Karen Downing ([email protected]; 215-790-2523) for assistance with securing the perfect accommodations.

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We followed up our late-night arrival at the hotel with an early-morning visit to its Adolf Biecker Salon for some pre-function pampering. Note: Although the salon is large, it fills up quickly and early on Saturday mornings—as a result, our services felt rushed. Suggest clients come at a quieter time for a more relaxing and attentive experience. Contact spa/salon reservations (215-735-6404) to make an appointment. Tip: With our tight schedule, we had to forego a visit to the spa, but insiders say the Swedish massage (request Michael) and customized facials are its top draws. Ask Spa Director Monique Bertsch ([email protected]; 215-735-6404) for expert advice on the appropriate treatment for your VIP.

With its central downtown location, the Rittenhouse is within easy reach of Philly’s high-end shopping options, including Burberry, Tiffany & Co., Lago, Nicole Miller and more; ask Chief Concierge Frank Marandino ([email protected]; 215-546-9000) to arrange personal appointments for serious shoppers, and a private car for shop-hopping. Marandino also can assist with reservations at Philadelphia’s ever-expanding repertoire of top restaurants; however, we say one not-to-be-missed dining experience is in the hotel’s own restaurant, Lacroix. The restaurant’s menu, comprising primarily French-inspired fare (the French fries are unforgettable), is complemented by cool décor and up-close views of Rittenhouse Square. For dessert, don’t miss the chocolate fountain, which is surrounded by bite-size cookies, cakes, fruit and other goodies that are ready for dipping—or dousing.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served during the week, but take extra care to snag a table for brunch on Sundays, when Chef Matthew Levin’s kitchen becomes a culinary wonderland that’s opened to restaurant guests.

Tip: Let your late-night-loving clients know that Lacroix recently unveiled its brand-new Bar 210, which serves up specialty cocktails and an extensive wine list, as well as not-so-average bar snacks like homemade potato chips and shiitake tempura with Coca Cola-and-soy sauce.

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