I know this is primarily a food board, but here's our entire trip report. We just got back from a 3 day venture to Philly for New Years Eve and stayed at the Four Seasons Philadelphia. I owe it to the Chowhound's board to report back as you guys gave me lots of great info for our trip. We picked the FS as we got what we thought was a good rate - $220 a night. We did $32 valet pking the first 24 hours and then did self park across the street for $14 the next 24 hours. Stupid on us not to just do this from day 1! We checked in, checked out our room, thought it was pretty nice, but nothing really special. To us, it could have been a nice Sheraton or Westin. Same for the rest of the hotel - didn't think it was THAT much better than other nice hotels we normally go for. It was our 1st try at a FS and our expectations were high. We did get fantastic personal attention, though, and of course the hotel was quite attractive for a city hotel. It just didn't WOW us. The hotel's room decor is getting updated in 2005 and our 1st room did have the new carpet already on the 7th floor. The king bed wasn't that great and it sagged terribly on my wife's side, so much so that we switched rooms to a 2 bedded room for night #2, so we didn't risk another awful night of sleep. For some reason, they don't believe in 2 double beds in a room, ONLY 2 european single beds! So weird with these very small beds. You pay all this money and only get little tiny twin beds. Even Holiday Inn gives you 2 double beds (usually) in a double room.
We ate at Buddakan in Philly for New Years Eve dinner and loved it! We'd never been to nor heard of any of these restaurants before we came onto the Fodor's board. We had the perfectly cooked and delicious wasabi crusted filet mignon, an awesome Caesar salad with cashews and wontons instead of croutons, a lobster fried rice dish which the perky waitress highly recommended (mediocre) and an awesome filling Creme Brulee for dessert. Dinner was $80 including a generous tip - great price for New Years Eve! Everything about this place screamed fun, fun, fun. Lots of balloons and smiling people, we ate early at 630pm! In bed by 10pm - don't laugh... we're 43 years old, but were really tired!
The next day we happened upon Steven Starr's other restaurant while walking to see the Mummer's Parade from our hotel - Continental Midtown and had a great french toast with chocolate spilling out of it with 4 huge strawberries on top that were perfect. We also split a portobello cheesesteak sandwich which was as good as anything we'd get at Jim's Cheesesteaks without the guilt of eating the meat. The retro theme of this hip restaurant made us smile the whole time we were there.
For dinner that night we went all out, after much trepidation and decided to not do a BYOB cheaper place and eat at the #1 rated restaurant in Philly - The Fountain, right at our hotel. No cab fare so we saved a little money, but it definitely was NOT worth $170 for 2 for dinner (at least in our opinion). We don't drink so had no wine, no drinks at all. All we ordered was a Caesar salad split ($12 - mediocre), a shrimp and crab appetizer ($21 - wayyy overpriced) that wasn't even good at all, a delicious but TINY Filet mignon for me and Grouper with baby brussel sprouts for my wife (we split them both, which they nicely did in the kitchen for us - $45 each entree - ouch), then a split dessert of some chocolate and banana combination - excellent. They gave us another dessert of chocolates too for free. I truly regretted spending so much as we could have eaten at the highly touted new Matyson for about half that much, but it WAS an experience. It taught me that it's not worth spending that much on food
We switched rooms at the FS that last night and the carpet hadn't been updated and looked a bit shabby. We loved the staff there and the gym was awesome but small. Free hand squeezed OJ and fresh coffee & decaf in the gym - too much! Great TV's on each machine with a little personal remote control - a bigger screen per machine than I'd ever seen. They also had a beautiful flat screen TV hung on the wall. Oh so nice to pass the time while exercising. I just wanted to stay and work out some more.
They double charged us by accident for a 2nd night of valet parking which I realized after we checked out, looking at our bill on the way to the King of Prussia Mall. They courteously offered to look into it and when I called back later, they agreed it was an error and credited our card. I always wanted to go to this mall as I've heard good things about it, and it's actually pretty great! They've got it ALL.
We also went to the Mutter Museum - excellent! Highly recommend it.
The Museum's collections include over 20,000 objects, including fluid-preserved anatomical and pathological specimens, medical instruments, anatomical and pathological models, items of memorabilia of famous scientists and physicians, and medical illustrations. Sound's gross, but it's fascinating. Currently, they have a special exhibit on conjoined twins.
Also went to the Reading Terminal Market. AMAZING! Best farmer's market with the best selection of food and restaurants we've ever seen, and very clean. She had the most delicious turkey sandwich and I had italian vegetarian delicacies from a great gourmet "carry out by the lb" place.
Can't wait to go back to Philly next year for New years again (from Silver Spring MD). We'll stay at a different hotel, whatever one we can get a great deal on, maybe the Sofitel (a friend got it for only $258 for 2 nights including parking this same weekend!).
Glad we finally went to a FS. It has to be one of the cheapest FS's in the country at only $220 a night with my Comcast ID. Next year we'll try Matyson, Striped Bass and maybe one more Starr restaurant, for lunch. We ate breakfast at the FS Fountain restaurant this morning and had the best Bircher Muesli and Oatmeal we'd had in a while! We didn't want to do the FS monstrous Sunday buffet brunch as we'd spent too much money the night before and weren't THAT hungry :o).
Steve and Julia Robinson
Silver Spring MD