I recently had the opportunity to experience a new style of hospitality, Curio – A Collection by Hilton. The concept is fairly simple, the global collection includes upscale and luxury hotels handpicked for their unique character. The hotels each have personality, history, a sense of style and many other characteristics that set them apart from more cookie-cutter experiences. I could think of no better, or iconic, hotel to first experience this new trend in luxury travel than at the elegant Logan Hotel in Philadelphia.
History and Art
My personal aesthetics trend towards the modern; give me clean lines executed elegantly over tassels and throw pillows any day. That being said, I always love staying at hotels with character and history, where you can feel the life and the energy from years of hospitality. It’s rare when these two elements converge, but when they do I know I’ve found something special. For me, that is The Logan. While a luxury hotel has called this space on Logan Circle home for years, a recent (and massive) redesign has created the artistic masterpiece that it is today. While not all guests may realize it, art is truly at the heart of The Logan experience.
From the very beginning, The Logan wanted to share the story of Philadelphia through the eyes of local artists, more than two-dozen pieces placed throughout the hotel come together to share this impressive history. Not only is the artwork representative of Philadelphia, but it’s also an important addition to the neighborhood that The Logan calls home. Situated conveniently along Logan Circle, most of the city’s best museums are an easy stroll away. The locally inspired and produced artwork inside the hotel itself add more than just an aesthetic quality to the property, I think that the pieces help fulfill The Logan’s mission of being inextricably tied to the community, a true Philadelphia icon instead of a mass-market hotel. Each piece tells a different story of Philadelphia’s history, from the roots in manufacturing; to famed Philadelphians such as Grace Kelly, Walt Whitman and Joe Frazier; to some of the city’s historic moments such as the Pennsylvania Coat of Arms, the Philadelphia Mint, Boathouse Row and much more. I’m not normally an art guy, but even I couldn’t help but admire the impact the pieces had on my own personal enjoyment of The Logan.
World Class Cuisine
As hotels in the U.S. evolve into offering more personalized and bespoke experiences, I’ve also noticed that the quality of the culinary offerings is also going through a shift. It wasn’t that long ago here in the U.S. that the concept of eating in a hotel was looked upon with scorn. For decades bars, cafes and restaurants in even some of the best hotels were left to languish, offering only overpriced and bland options for would-be diners. Over the last few years though that’s been changing, perhaps inspired by their counterparts overseas. Regardless of the reason, there is no doubt that the modern traveler is the beneficiary, and this emphasis on the food experience was one of the hallmarks of my own stay at The Logan.
I first experienced this commitment at The Logan’s unique and incredibly popular rooftop bar, The Assembly. Featuring stunning city views, this upscale and incredibly stylish lounge is definitely the place to be. With lush seating, fire pits, an extensive collection of champagnes and cocktails, The Assembly isn’t only great for guests, it has very quickly become one of Philadelphia’s hot spots.
The real star of the culinary scene at The Logan though is its affiliated restaurant, Urban Farmer. “Farm to table” and “locally sourced” are buzz words in the foodie world that are abused and overused. However, at Urban Farmer they’re actually true. Every last detail, from decor to each morsel that hits the plate isn’t only thoughtfully planned, but it’s planned with Philadelphia in mind. Herbs are grown in-house, they do all of their own pickling and every cut of meat is even butchered in the restaurant. If this trendy steakhouse could raise cows in the hotel I’m sure they would. Capturing the concept of rural chic, this is an upscale establishment that feels casual, a wonderful complement to The Logan itself. At the end of the day though it’s all about the food, and after an exhaustive (in a good way) dinner, I can definitively say that the Urban Farmer delivers on all fronts. As a true carnivore, I’m picky about my steaks and sides, but could honestly find no fault with this delicious eatery. It was a fun and tasty meal and one that I hope to repeat in the not too distant future.
Comfort and Hospitality
At the end of the day, we don’t choose a hotel based on artwork or how nice the bar is. We select hotels based on their comfort, convenience and commitment to service and hospitality. This is where the true magic of the Logan shines through and why I know I’ll always choose The Logan when I’m in Philadelphia. Walking through the front doors I at once felt at ease, thanks to the boisterous welcome from the doorman and the incredibly relaxed lobby that is impossible to miss. It looks like an old-school club with rich but comfortable leather, muted colors and plenty of natural light. It was the perfect first introduction to the hotel that carried through to the room experience itself.
With 391 rooms and 64 suites, most of the rooms still manage to retain their own sense of style and character. Large spaces, luxurious bedding and linens and some incredible views of Logan Circle all come together to create a welcoming and infinitely comfortable temporary home in the City of Brotherly Love. Luxurious but not stuffy, well designed but not pretentious, it’s a fine line to walk, but the Logan manages it expertly.
I always tell people that the hallmark of any luxury hotel is the service. It’s the one asset that can’t be purchased; it’s the result of great training and a personal commitment on behalf of each and every staff member to care. That means a lot to guests and sadly, it’s getting harder and harder to find. From a warm and enthusiastic welcome when I arrived to every single request I made, the service at the Logan Hotel was beyond reproach. It set the stage for all of the other elements to enter and add to my own personal enjoyment of the property. One morning I was in the elevator and a staff member entered behind me. He asked me what I thought of the newly remodeled hotel and after saying I liked it, he was beaming. “Good,” he said, “I just always hope everyone loves it here as much as I do.” That’s a special moment, that says something and it’s not a sentiment that can be planned or rehearsed, it just has to happen. If The Logan is representative of what the other Curio Collection hotels must be like, I can’t wait to experience their other destinations, just as unique and just as passionate about sharing their communities with me through their delicate but expertly guided hand.
The Logan calls itself Philadelphia’s hotel, and it has certainly embraced all that is great about the city. Every work of art around the hotel, the menus and even recommendations on what to see and do, they all indicate a certain love for the city that frankly can be hard to find. This isn’t a cookie cutter experience, this is a unique and luxurious hotel that is the hospitality equivalent of an open love letter to Philadelphia.