View of the city skyline at dusk with the clock tower of city hall the brightest spot.

City Hall stands out along Philadelphia’s skyline. Photo © Dennis Yang, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Old City is the place to be if you’re visiting primarily to experience the historic attractions in and around Independence National Historical Park, but with few exceptions, it is expensive. It is jam-packed with families in summertime, but isn’t quite as crowded—or pricey—during other times of the year. If you can’t find a room in Old City, anywhere in Center City is convenient for visiting the historic area as well as the museums of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the rest of downtown Philadelphia.

Bed-and-breakfasts can be found scattered throughout Center City, especially in and around Washington Square West, Society Hill, and University City. Wash West is a great, centrally-located place for anyone to stay, but is especially popular with gay visitors since it is the center of the city’s gay culture. Rooms in the area fill well in advance during the annual Equality Forum in May.

The Museum District is lovely during the day when the museums are open, but can be a bit desolate at night; home to mostly chain hotels, it is also very close to Center City. University City just across the Schuylkill River is a bit less expensive while still close to Center City. Home to University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, this area can be a good choice for students with its bustling college scene and affordable bars and restaurants. And for a quieter stay, near Fairmount Park and historic Germantown but farther from the city’s main attractions, Chestnut Hill offers several options near its main business district.

Since chain hotels are so easily found with a few clicks of a mouse, the majority of Moon Philadelphia‘s accommodations chapter is devoted to the lesser-known, unique Philadelphia establishments. Chains are, however, included when there are limited options in a particular area or in some cases because the chains are in historic buildings that are too beautiful or the location is simply too convenient to leave out. In addition to Center City, you’ll find plenty of chain hotels near the airport, including the Philadelphia Airport Marriott, directly connected to the airport. There is also a Holiday Inn near the stadium—convenient for those attending events at the sports arenas.

All rates listed are based on double occupancy in summer (high season). Most hotels offer parking at a daily cost on-site or in a nearby lot, usually for around $20 a day. The Official Visitor Site for Greater Philadelphia is another excellent resource for additional listings, descriptions, reservations, and discounts, including the Philly Overnight Hotel Package, which includes hotel accommodations for two nights, free parking, and a gift and coupon book upon check-in. Bed and Breakfast Connections of Philadelphia (800/448-3619) has additional offerings if you’re looking for something cozy and special.

Save with the Philly Overnight Hotel Package

The Philly Overnight Hotel Package is available through the Independence Visitor Center’s website. It will buy you two nights of accommodations with free parking for both nights (a $75-plus value at some Center City hotels) and a free gift when you check in. Additional promotions are sometimes included, like tickets to attractions and exhibits, so it’s always worth checking the website for details when planning your visit. The deal is available seven days a week for any two-consecutive-night stay; the site connects with a Travelocity search so that you can select from participating hotels. Most local hotels participate.

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Philadelphia.