Okay, so I posted a discussion before about a little road trip I'll be taking with my boys to Philly. I am now swayed to staying right in Downtown so that we can walk to everything. But deciding between the Courtyard Marriott and the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Any suggestions?
TThey're both virtually next door to one another. So there's no real difference location wise. The CY is, unusually, quite a unique property, refurbished in the last few years and very well regarded. The Marriott is huge and adheres to brand standards, but is getting towards the time for a refurbishment. Lounge offerings at the downtown are good and the lounge is big. If the prices are the same then as a gold/plat I'd choose the Marriott for the bennies, as a silver I'd choose the CY. If the price difference is high I'd go with the cheapest as both are good. Overall I'd say the CY takes it for the rooms, whilst the Marriott takes it for the Gold/Plat bennies and points on incidentals.
I've been to both properties several times and agree 100% with the assessment. As a Silver you won't have access to the lounge, so I would pick whichever is cheaper. The Marriott is enormous - it's actually the biggest hotel in PA by # of rooms. I actually like the CY more since, as was mentioned, it has a very unique feel to it.
I live just outside Philadelphia and am in the city regularly. My wife and I often stay at one of the three properties right near City Hall - The Courtyard, Residence Inn and Marriott. Quite frankly, I go where we get the best deal, since we spend very little time in the room or the hotel bar or restaurant. There are just too many great places to dine and drink close by, it makes little sense to spend time onsite, unless you have meetings. Of the three, the Residence in provides a full breakfast and you will get a suite. It is right next door to the Courtyard and a block from the Marriott. The Marriott is large and cold feeling. Not a big fan. It is attached to the Convention Center so there are always tons of people there. Just one man's opinion.
If you need recommendations for dining, drinks, entertainment, let me know what you like and I will try to point you in the right direction.
Well, a fun place to go to lunch is Reading Terminal Market, right behind any of the three Marriott Properties. Pretty much anything you would like to eat is there - seafood, hoagies, Italian, greek, Chinese (Sang Kee Peking Duck), Amish home cooking, diner food, cheesesteaks and roast pork (DiNic's), sushi - and awesome Bassett's ice cream, Beiler's Donuts. Also a good place for breakfast - pastries and donuts and great coffee for sure, but they also have spots cooking up full breakfasts.
Thinking about the boys, a Hard Rock Café is right next door to the Marriott. Some of the places I really love in that area might be a bit pricey for a family of four, but I will let you decide. My favorite restaurant in that area is Amada. It is chef Jose Garces' tapas restaurant. Excellent food and fun atmosphere. Another, near 2nd and Walnut is Zahav. Top chef in the region serving, as they describe it, modern Israeli cuisine. Down on Independence Mall, at the base of the Dupont building is a huge beer garden. Very family friendly, good food, nice outdoor space in the middle of everything and they do have cold beer - Independence Beer Garden. Cuba Libre, on 2nd Street, just south of Market is a fun place. Good Cuban food and it has a nice themed décor. We took our kids there a number of times. Spasso's Italian Grill on Front Street, just north of Chestnut has good Italian in that part of town and is reasonable. On 13th Street, just south of Market and close to the hotels, there are a number of good spots. Barbuzzo - Italian, Jamonera, Charlie was a Sinner (Veg), The Continental at 2nd and Market or the Continental - Midtown at 18th and Chestnut. I prefer the 2nd Street location for cocktails, the Midtown location is a great spot, with rooftop dining, and they make a quinoa salad I can't get enough of. The Dandelion at 18th and Sansom is a British-style pub, family friendly, with great burgers and other things. Take a look at Parc, on Rittenhouse Square. It is a French style bistro, right on the park. Awesome place to get a table either outside or right inside, looking at the park. Very family friendly and one of the best spots to hang on a beautiful day. At 20th Street near Manning, Rittenhouse Square (street) is D'Angelo's Italian, which is quite good. On that same block is Twenty Manning Grill - good food, but perhaps a bit pricey, and Audrey Claire - great food, BYOB but also a bit pricey for family fare. A few good places for Italian, without going in to 'South Philly' is either Pizzeria Stella ( a Steven Starr true Italian pizza place on 2nd, at Lombard) or Bistro Romano on Lombard between Front and Second. It has been there forever and serves very good Italian American fare, in large portions - i.e doggy bag. If you want a true Philly experience, head down in the morning or midday to 9th Street, between Catharine and Washington Avenue, for the Italian Market. So many great purveyors of all things Italian. Villa di Roma on 9th, between Hall and Carpenter is good and very family friendly - a bit overpriced but good. Ralph's on 9th, just north of Catharine's is also good. My favorite in that area, though, is the long standing and infamous Dante & Luigi's at 10th and Catharine. Excellent meatballs, red sauce (gravy in Philly vernacular). Back toward Center City, Little Nonna's at Locust and 13th is very good Italian.
My favorite spots for cheesesteak or roast pork are either Tony Luke's 39 W. Oregon Avenue or John's Pork (only open weekdays, lunch), on Snyder Avenue, near Columbus Avenue. Both are a car ride but worth it. If you are walking on South Street, Jim's at 4th street is good, but not as good as Tony Luke's. Now I'm hungry.
I've stayed in both, and agree whichever is the better deal is the way to go. I liked the Courtyard a bit more in terms of the room I had. The Marriott's main advantage is the CL if you are able to use it.
Best way to sightsee Philly is walking or take the Philly Phlash hop on/hop off bus loop that hits almost all the tourist spots from the Zoo and Art Museum along JFK Blvd and Market Streets to Penn's Landing - $5 for an all day pass and runs every 15 minutes or so from 9 to 6 I think. It has a stop essentially at the Marriott (12th and Market) in both directions (one direction is across the street).
I assume you'll visit the Liberty Bell/Independence Hall area - if you do also try to hit Franklin Court and the museum there on the edge of the park that focuses on Ben. Eastern State Penitentiary is pretty interesting and different and might appeal to your boys. There is a ferry across the Delaware at Penn's Landing to the Camden Waterfront which has the Battleship NJ and the aquarium. The archeological museum at U of Penn has mummies and a sphinx and is often overlooked, and if you want to maybe gross the boys out there is the Mutter Museum with its medical oddities and specimens. Also, the US Mint has a limited museum and views of the production floor.
I was just in Philly two (2) weeks ago for a conference at the Convention Center and stayed at the FS Marriott. The concierge lounge is huge and puts out a very extensive breakfast spread. Rooms were run of the mill FS Marriot. My room was on the 28th floor facing the convention center. Not sure if there were better views?
I stayed at the CY on a family trip several years ago and it is right nearby. The building itself was fomer bank or something and was not a typical CY. The rooms at the time did not match the building and were very blah. I see comments that they have remodeled so I hope they now match the rest of the character.
DiNics inside the Reading Terminal Market has my favorite sandwich ever, the roast pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. Out of this world!