Updated Aug. 14
The newest hotel in Philadelphia has horizon-stretching views, a ceiling made of mirrors, zip-fast glass elevators, more flowers than Kanye’s wedding and a spa with crystal vibes pulsing through its walls.
Though guests have already started checking in during a soft launch, Aug. 12 marks the official opening date for the Four Seasons Philadelphia, located on the top dozen floors of the Comcast Technology Center.
It’s without a doubt the most luxe place to stay in the city right now — with a price tag to match. Rooms start at $600 and go up from there.
“You could pick up this hotel and put it anyplace — New York, London, Paris, or Bangkok,” Four Seasons’ worldwide president of operations Christian Clerc told the Inquirer, “and it would be the best hotel in town.”
Despite that global elegance, the urban resort does not ignore its surroundings. It embraces them.
With local touches throughout and marketing speak that hypes its home as one of the “most exciting” metro centers in the world, this Four Seasons is a milestone on the uphill road toward Philadelphia’s precarious new balance — a city that’s honest and authentic, but also exalted and renowned.
Here’s 13 things to know about Philly’s hottest new stay-and-play address.
There’s a separate drive-up entrance
While the main walk-in entrance to the CTC is on 18th Street, where you can access the giant orb and Vernick Coffee Bar, the Four Seasons has a totally separate entrance a block away. You can access it from the Comcast lobby via an art-filled underground concourse, which is right now closed on-and-off for construction.
The official hotel address is 1 N. 19th St., just south of Arch, where you’ll find a circular driveway for guests to pull up cars, unload and meet valet parking attendants. People enter here too, but the actual check-in lobby is up on the 60th floor.
The glass elevators go 11 mph
How do you get up? A trio of glass-encased elevators that whisk people from ground to 60 in less than a minute. That calculates out to faster than 11 miles per hour.
It’s quick enough to make your ears pop, though it’s not even close to the fastest elevators in the world, which zip around at 22 mph and above.
60 stories up is really, really high
Comcast maintains ownership of the hotel space (along with Liberty Property Trust, which has a 20% stake in the building), but the stewardship of floors 48 to 60 is all Four Seasons. When you get to the top, you’re about 880 feet feet up.
Proof of how high it is: the gorgeous view is sometimes obscured when the tower’s top gets caught in passing clouds.
The Jean-Georges restaurant is open to the public
Crowning the hotel is the first Philadelphia project from global celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The restaurant, his 39th, according to the Inquirer, is open breakfast through dinner and is open to the public. A prix-fixe power lunch at the highest table in the city will run you $38 per person, with evening food significantly higher-priced.
Fronting the dining room is a slightly more casual lounge and bar called JG SkyHigh, where you don’t need reservations to secure a seat.
Across the entire room is designer Norman Foster’s impressive mirror-clad ceiling. If the name rings a bell, this is the dude who put together Apple’s new spaceship-looking HQ in California. At Jean-Georges Philadelphia, his handiwork pulls off the very neat trick of reflecting into the restaurant all the motion of the sidewalk and streets below, so you never forget you’re in the heart of the city even while floating above it.
Vernick Fish provides a more grounded food experience
On street level is another of the hotel’s restaurants, this one by locals. Greg and Julie Vernick, well-regarded for their eponymous Rittenhouse spot, are overseeing Vernick Fish. Greg started his career working for Vongerichten in NYC.
With a menu like “a modern oyster bar,” according to a press release, the restaurant will seat 200 at a bar and tables that spill into a sidewalk cafe. Expect lots of seafood with a focus on sustainability, served in a space covered with tilework and outfitted with brass.
Flower arrangements are not an afterthought
Both restaurants and the entire hotel proper are bursting with flowers. All of the floral work is thoughtfully designed by world-famous florist Jeff Leatham, who is also the hotel’s artistic director.
How does one become a celebrity flower person? If you saw pics of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s wedding, you’ve seen Leatham’s work. At the Four Seasons, which considers floral arrangements part of its brand, you can also see an original type of orchid he created.
The spa has crystals in its walls
Also open to the public is the luxurious “spa and wellness” center that takes up the 57th floor. Spa director Verena Lasvigne-Fox, a native of Germany, wanted to infuse good vibes throughout the space, so she enlisted a local crystal expert to help make it happen.
During construction, a carefully-chosen assortment of various crystals were embedded throughout the entire space. They’re tucked below the floorboards and even behind the walls, where they were set atop electrical outlet boxes to keep them in “proper” positioning.
Impressive infinity pool (for guests only)
Next to a pretty nice gym is the pool, and it’s a serious looker. It’s not available to the public, even if you book a spa treatment, but If you have friends staying here, this alone is a reason to visit.
The 30,000 gallons of water stretch right to the edge of a floor-to-ceiling windowed room, offering views of the neighboring skyscrapers and the sky above.
Views of North Philly cost more than Center City
Anyone who’s stayed at a multifloor hotel knows that rooms with a view — ostensibly more desirable — are often tagged with a higher price. Usually it’s skyline sights that command top dollar, but in this case, it’s the opposite. Of the 219 rooms, those facing northwest cost more than those looking out on the city to the east and south.
The expansive vista of North Philly rowhomes also includes the pretty Schuylkill River and the architectural interest of the Art Museum and Eastern State Penitentiary. That’s called the “Landmark View.” Why is it considered better than looking the other way? Probably because some of the other Center City skyscrapers are extremely close — to the point where you hope no one across the way is deploying binoculars.
Brian Eno made the room art
Of course all the rooms in the Comcast Technology Center are tricked out with the latest flatscreen TVs and Xfinity voice-remote tech. The TVs double as canvases: The Four Seasons tapped celebrity musician Brian Eno to create an original video-music composition called “Philadelphia Dorian,” which plays on the screens when you’re not using them.
Bathrooms with a view
If you pony up for one of the hotel’s 39 luxury suites, it won’t just be from your bed that you can appreciate the tower’s height: nearly all the bathubs also have great views.
Other touches in the guest rooms include locally-sourced wood accents, local booze in the mini bar and a commitment to sustainability — if you want to save water by keeping the same sheets another day, just drop the giant silver key trinket on the bed.
Do not disturb in digital form
One pretty cool feature of the guestroom doors, which open with standard-style key cards: the do not disturb notice. Instead of a hang-tag, which can easily fall off, the entire color of the room number light turns red if you are looking for privacy. The button to turn that on is right next to the bed, meaning you won’t even have to throw on a nice provided robe to keep housekeeping at bay.
Meeting rooms galore
Business folk looking to impress or wedding planners with deep-pocketed clients can also get in on the action. There’s 15,000 square feet of meeting space throughout the building, including two ballrooms on the fifth floor and other areas available up on the 59th. The full complement of catering and display tech options are on offer.
A Four Seasons worth its price tag
If you’ve been in the city for a few years, or visited before 2015, you might remember the former Four Seasons Philadelphia. When it opened on Logan Square 30 years prior, it surely was a top spot. But by the time it closed, it was sagging. The service was excellent as ever, but the decor and surroundings couldn’t help but feel and look tired.
This new Four Seasons is the opposite. It’s new, modern and clean-edged — and feels entirely worthy of the requisite splurge.