When people have to travel 60 floors to enter your lobby, you better make it something special. The first glimpse of the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia — which is reopening at the top of the Comcast Technology Center after leaving its longtime home on the Ben Franklin Parkway in 2015 — definitely has the wow factor down.
In contrast with the CTC’s ground floor, which is filled with warmth and wood, the Four Seasons entrance is ultra modern, with sleek onyx backdrops set off by delicate floral masterpieces.
The 19th Street side of the CTC will be the hotel’s entry point, where guests will be greeted by valet service and doormen right by the entrance to Vernick Fish. Per Four Seasons GM Ben Shank, the idea is that Vernick Fish will be a “neighborhood” restaurant. With 60 seats outside along Arch Street and 200 seats in total, Shank wants to bring “good energy” to the Center City/Logan Square cusp. The outside will have trees and heat lamps to extend the al fresco season.
Serious Willy Wonka vibes here. The three express elevators zipping you up to the reception area, swanky bar and the rooftop Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant will have glass panels.
You get an impressive view of the city, but those scared of heights needn’t fear too much: the whole trip is fast. Elevators blast up in 60 seconds flat.
Even with dust, cardboard boxes, plastic dotted wrap on the windows and laborers stomping around in boots in the site — opening is still almost a year away — the 60th floor lobby is impressive.
And in a move that hearkens back to the famed Fountain restaurant in the Four Season’s previous incarnation, there’s a giant, multi-story water feature.
Architect and interior designer Lord Norman Foster, who recently completed the Apple Park Visitor Center in Silicon Valley, put his Brit chic touch to the venue. There’ll be a sexy backlit onyx backdrop to the bar and concierge desk, followed by a dramatic, two-story waterfall that flows down a grand staircase leading up to Vongerichten’s restaurant.
Most remarkable are the sweeping views, which can be seen through enormous windows on all sides of the space but also reflected off of the ceiling, which has tilted panels that “cascade the energy and light from the city into and out of the room” (in marketing speak).
This may of course change, but GM Shank noted that, unlike in other cities, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia will have no other skyscrapers blocking its vista of the city.
Plates and Pours
None of the restaurants are operational yet, but the Four Seasons hosted a “pop down” at the Bok to show off some food and drink offerings.
Beverage options for the romance–themed soiree included cocktails from bartenders at top Four Seasons around the world. The cocktails featured were:
- Timeless Romance: agricole rum, elderflower, grapefruit bitters, fresh cardamom
- A Lover’s Jolt: coffee-infused bourbon, yuzu, date jam, thyme meringue
- Adam: gin, bitter luxardo, white vermouth, bergamot liquor
- Eve: prosecco, fresh peach puree, lime-chili bitter, aperol-elderflower foam
- Forbidden Fruit Mocktail: apple juice, citric acid, fig leaf syrup, soda water
- Punch Drunk Love: Barrel aged rum, cognac, calvados, citrus, apple, spices, shrub
- Perfect Pear: mescal chile moritas, prickly pear, lime, mole bitters
As for the food, Greg Vernick offered vegetable crudité with salsa verde and cured egg yolk, and wagyu beef pastrami with braised cabbage and whole grain mustard.
Vongerichten’s station was serving ensenada sea urchin on black bread with yuzu and jalapeño, grilled sweet corn ravioli with white truffle and basil fondue and toasted egg yolk with caviar.
World-renowned florist Jeff Leatham’s fragrant creations will have prominence throughout the hotel. The pop down preview showed why he’s referred to as a “celebrity” florist and the “rock star” of the floral industry (he’s apparently regularly commissioned by the likes of Oprah and the Kardashians).
Every one of his arrangements and topiary designs made one feel as if they were trapped inside of a dreamy fairy tale. Bok Bar was magically transformed into a land full of unusual “woodland” creatures (think pandas and kangaroos), cake pops hanging from bushels of moss, vines intertwining above and yellow, lilac and red roses arranged in stirring displays.
Thanks to Leatham, the hotel is going to look — and smell — delightful.
Spend the night
At the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, there are 219 rooms total, with 39 suites. All rooms have 11-floor ceilings and windows, with minimalist furniture and locally-sourced birch wood finishes.
The guest rooms are 350 to 450 square feet, while the suites range from 650 to 3,000 square-feet (the Presidential Suite obviously being the most grandiose). “Northside” rooms will have views of the Parkway and other cultural landmarks and “Southside” rooms will have views of the downtown cityscape.
Though Shank described the rooms as being “very understated,” they’re equipped with amenities like Xfinity services for all of the enormous flat-screen TVs, complimentary high-speed WiFi, Bose speakers and a tablet for the sole purpose of asking for hotel services via the Four Seasons app. (No one uses the phone anymore, he said.)
- Other luxe amenities include Guerlain skincare and bath products, a sizeable closet, a full tub and shower, a body weight scale and a customizable topper (which can be either standard, firm or plush depending on the guest’s preference).
Now, the question you’ve been asking the whole time: How much will it cost to stay in Philadelphia’s latest opulent hotel?
- Per Shank, nightly rates start at $600. Start saving for your staycation now: target launch is mid-2019.