Go Antiquing in Philadelphia

1. Where to Stay

General manager David Benton runs the ritzy Rittenhouse Hotel (from $330) with precision and pride. The hotel, centrally located on Rittenhouse Square, is first class from the décor to the service to the in-house restaurant, Lacroix. The rooms are big; ask for one with a view of the square.

From left, Philadelphia's historic Rittenhouse square district; guests of Rittenhouse 1715 enjoy complimentary wine from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each evening. Photo: Courtesy of 1715 Rittenhouse

The antiques and period reproductions in Rittenhouse 1715 (from $239) could give you ideas for your shopping list. Formerly the Rittenhouse Square B&B, the property expanded into an adjoining townhouse last December. The sixteen Salgado Saucier–designed rooms are all traditionally handsome, but the duplex presidential suite has a more loftlike feel.

The Ritz-Carlton (from $299) remains the most stunning show in town. A rotunda soars over the hotel lobby. Book on the north side of the building above the fifteenth floor to be face to face with the statue of William Penn, across the street atop City Hall. On Friday and Saturday evenings, save room for the chocolate buffet in the lobby.

2. Where to Eat

A multi-million-dollar restoration softened the nineteenth-century industrial feel at the Water Works Restaurant, inside the former engine house of one of the nation’s first drinking-water pumping stations. From the terrace, eat mezes and watch the scullers on the Schuylkill. Inside, under a vaulted ceiling or in the glass solarium, order the vanilla-butter-poached lobster.

From left, Amada on Chestnut Street; the restaurant's dining room, where guests sample tapas and sip sangría.Photo: Courtesy of Amada

If you like a little flamenco with your chorizo a la plancha, rising Latin chef Jose Garces’s first tapas bar and restaurant, Amada, won “best new restaurant” accolades this year.

Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr brought innovative dining to Philadelphia with the Continental; he hired Shawn Hausman (who did the Standard in L.A.) to design the Continental Mid-Town. On the second floor, swing from a wicker chair hanging from the ceiling, or have a drink and a smoke (still legal!) by the fireplace on the rooftop bar.

Photo: Courtesy of Tria

Formerly the sous-chef at Philadelphia favorite the Striped Bass, Jon Myerow recently opened his own place, Tria. The tiny café honors cheese, wine, and beer. Let the knowledgeable staff pair a hard-to-score Russian River golden ale with an aged Le Sarlet goat cheese.

Georges Perrier’s Le Bec-Fin is where Philadelphian’s go to celebrate very special occasions. The townhouse recalls the city’s high-society past, all crystal chandeliers and gilt chairs. The menu is classic French at its best.

3. What to Do

A shopper in the store Whirling Dervish on Philadelphia's Antique Row.Photo: B. Krist for GPTMC from gophila.com

Shop Antique Row, the stretch along Pine Street between 9th and Broad Streets. Find silver at Jeffrey Lee Biber (1030 Pine St.; 215-862-7633), stained glass at Antique Design; eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French and English furniture at Classic Antiques, nineteenth-century French furniture at G.B. Schaffer (1014 Pine St.; 215-923-2263), china and porcelain at Eloquence (1034 Pine St.; 215-627-6606), Asian at Jansen (1042 Pine St.; 215-922-5594), and samplers and needlework at M. Finkel & Daughter.

4. Insider’s Tip

Cezanne's Card Players and Seurat's Les Poudreuses.Photo: Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

Before a court order forces the Barnes Foundation to make a hotly contested move into Philadelphia, see it in its original, esoteric glory in suburban Lower Merion. Barely a fifteen-minute commuter-train ride away, this collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings is one of the finest in the world. Call for an appointment well before your trip; the foundation accepts only a limited number of visitors a year.

5. An Oddball Day

The café outpost of Le Colombe Torrefaction. Photo: Courtesy of La Colombe Torrefation

Wander through Philly’s French Quarter, the underappreciated area surrounding Sansom and 17th Streets. The chic Sofitel hotel also sells Gallic finds like Lalique bubble rings and CDs straight from the Buddah Bar in Paris. Stop by La Creperie Café (1722 Sansom St.; 215-564-6460) for tomato-and-feta crêpes. And for a perfect café au lait, linger at La Colombe Torrefaction, supplier to all of Jean-Georges’s and Alain Ducasse’s U.S. restaurants.

6. Links

Foobooz covers restaurant and bar openings and includes reviews.

The Philadelphia love child of Gawker and Gothamist, Philebrity posts news, gossip, and commentary.

Request a personalized tour of the city by real live locals at Move to Philly.

Go Antiquing in Philadelphia