Trip Report & Review – Hyatt at the Bellevue, Philadelphia (Junior Suite)

When I returned to Philadelphia to visit some friends, I decided to finally give Hyatt at the Bellevue a try. I had a trip to Helsinki and Beijing in the middle of my visit. With my return flight so late, I was initially going to book an airport hotel on my way back. However, my first night at the hotel was less than stellar, and I wanted to give the hotel a second chance. As luck would have it, I found a great last-minute paid rate for my second night in Philly. This time around, I got upgraded to a Junior Suite.

This trip report/review is part of a series. See also:

Introduction

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Bellevue building itself has a rich history. Its prime location and amazing architecture is almost a perfect set-up for a great luxury hotel. Sadly, ait seems management didn’t really let the hotel to live up its full potential.

One reader pointed out that there was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the hotel in 1976, which led to the then Bellevue-Stratford hotel’s closing. The disease was named after the American Legion convention, which took place at the hotel. I remember hearing about that in medical school, but didn’t know it was this very hotel. For people that know about this, the dirty air vents don’t do the hotel any favor…

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For this stay, I arrived pretty late at night. The friendly staff member checked me in, and acknowledged my Hyatt Diamond status. She was about to give me my room number, but then informed me that she was able to upgrade me to a Junior Suite. Normally, suites are excluded from Diamond upgrades, so I was a little surprised. It was actually my birthday, but she didn’t mention anything about that as the reason for the upgrade.

The Junior Suite

My room featured a pretty nice foyer, with a giant mirror on the side as soon as I enter.

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Hyatt at the Bellevue – Junior Suite Foyer

From the foyer, you get a pretty nice view of the room. The walls were nicely decorated with historical pictures and Philly-themed artwork.

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This isn’t a conventional “suite” in the sense that the there is a separate, compartmentalized living room. However, there is a nook for two chairs at one end of the very spacious room, with accent pillows.

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Next to the chairs in the “living room” area was a small terrace. It doesn’t actually open to the outside, per se, but rather has a nice view of an atrium.

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Back to the bedroom. Just like the King room, this one features a big flat screen TV.

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Since they share surface, the work area is actually pretty small. Since I was only staying for one night, I wasn’t super concerned about that.

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I really liked the decor and furniture choice of this room. It feels relatively well thought out without being obnoxiously ornate. Personally, I think it suits the HYATT brand quite nicely. At the very least, there is consistent design language. It was a nice departure from the hodgepodge-of-clearance-furniture vibe I got from the King room.

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Since I arrived pretty late, I am assuming they had either turned down the room already, or that’s just the usual spot where they leave the water.

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The Bathroom

The bathroom was located to the right of the bed. I liked that the vanity and closet had their own area, separate from the rest of the bathroom.

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The closet is located next to the vanity. It’s a regular closet with no compartments for shoes, etc., but I didn’t really expect that for a HYATT hotel anyway.

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The bathroom featured a tub-and-shower combo. The curved shower rod is always nice to have, since it provides some extra space in the shower. The water pressure was good, and I liked the playful artwork in the bathroom. However, the bathroom did not have a towel rack, which was a bit disappointing.

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Mini Bar

At the opposite end of the room was an actual mini bar. There wasn’t anything in the fridge other than water, but I could see this as a nice space for small gatherings.

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There were plenty of empty shelves under the bar table, which was theoretically nice but I didn’t really see a huge reason for them. It would be one thing if this space also included a stovetop or even a microwave, like in an apartment. But with nothing else here, the shelves might have been better used as a space for extra bar stools. As they stand, the shelves almost gave the impression that management simply didn’t know what to do with what used to be a kitchenette.

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No Nespresso machines here, but Starbucks packages were provided.

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Breakfast

I am kicking myself for not taking pictures of the restaurant here, because it’s truly a redeeming quality for the hotel. (Trust me, as someone with “I have to review this” in mind all the time, that’s…truly unusual for me.) They serve breakfast at the XIX Restaurant located on the 19th floor.

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The design of the restaurant is impeccable, and the view of Center City Philadelphia is quite stunning. Breakfast for Hyatt Diamond is complimentary, and I wasn’t given a specific limit for breakfast. They have a limited buffet with hot and cold items, couple with a separate a la carte menu. I ordered the buffet, as well as eggs off the menu, and wasn’t charge anything at check-out.

Overall Impression

Overall, I was much happier with this room than with the King Room I got the first night. I am glad I gave this hotel a second chance, and they did deliver (in some sense). Even with the renovation, though, you can still feel that the property is dated. It looks like management gave the room some fresh paint or wallpaper, and perhaps moved some new furniture in, but otherwise left much of the original interior intact—even the electrical cover plates.

It’s a perfectly nice room, but I can’t help but feel that something is not quite up to par.  There are plenty of luxury hotels in Philadelphia charging similar prices, from the Ritz Carlton to the Kimptom properties. A new Four Seasons is soon going to open in the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center (currently under construction).

I  feel like the hotel has some kind of an identity crisis. Hyatt at the Bellevue doesn’t seem fully committed to be a luxury hotel, as judged by the accommodation and the not-quite-there renovation. However, I would also be hard-pressed to call it a budget hotel, given its amazing location, rich history, and stunning architecture.

The bottom line is, under very specific circumstances (e.g. cheap rates, or if you need to be at a Hyatt in Philadelphia), this is a perfectly fine spot. The bed was comfortable, breakfast delicious, and service friendly. However, I’d argue that there are far better ways to spend a Free Night certificate or 20,000 points.

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Comments

  1. Geez does everyone take turns reviewing the same place ? Wasn’t a review by a blogger just posted ? While they may “sell luxury ” this place has fallen way too far behind to catch up. I have been staying here since the mid 70’s and seen it’s ups and downs and it’s down. Other than the Palm there is no real reason to stay here anymore. Unless of course one gets a comp’d room!

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