This is likely to be a holiday season like no other. Things will be different as many event organizers err on the side of caution or take a wait-and-see approach.
Our version of pandemic protocol dictates that you leave the kids at home and immerse yourself in the rarefied air of Center City’s most lavish hotel. At the new Four Seasons Philadelphia, the lobby is an ear-popping 60 floors up, via a glass elevator the gets you there at lightning speed. Once ensconced in a state-of-the-art guest room or suite on one of the upper floors of Philadelphia’s tallest skyscraper, you’ll never want to close the blinds on your vast cityscape.
The Comcast Technology Center’s imposing glass-and-stainless-steel tower was designed by world-renowned British architect Lord Norman Foster and completed in 2017. It’s the tallest building in the state, the 14th highest in the U.S., and the tallest outside New York City and Chicago. For an eerie sensation, look straight up toward its tip 1,121 feet above from a block or so away.
The Four Seasons’ 219 rooms and suites begin at level 48. Our meticulously appointed Landmark Room on the 56th floor afforded views of the Schulykill and Delaware rivers, Logan Circle, the Art Museum, Temple University and far beyond. We were high enough to clearly see the cooling towers of the Limerick Generating Station 37 miles away.
Window shades and lighting are controlled with the touch of a few buttons by the bed. The spacious bathrooms feature deep-soaking tubs, sleek fixtures and stone vanities. The locally based, family-owned Fessenden Hall supplied the rich birch-wood millwork that brings warm accents to every super-sleek room. And the 65-inch flat-screen television is the perfect showcase for Comcast’s primary function as a cable provider.
The Four Seasons’ COVID-19 safety measures are, in a word, meticulous. All guests undergo a temperature check daily as they walk into the ground-level entrance, and masks must be worn in all common areas. Each room is equipped with masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. Expect such social-distancing measures as appropriately spaced fitness equipment, modified spa services, and contactless check-in and housekeeping services.
Our favorite view of the city came while soaking in the infinity pool at the 57th-floor Spa & Wellness Centre, which has seven treatment rooms, a huge fitness center and a salon. The 10,000-square-foot space was recently joined fewer than 100 luxury spas worldwide as a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star facility.
Signature treatments include the full-body crystal oil massage, designed to relieve stress and improve balance and energy. Couples can opt for a 60-minute massage, then unwind with champagne and snacks in a private suite overlooking South Philadelphia. The spa also offers gentleman’s pampering, energy healing and nail services.
Related Article: 6 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in Philadelphia’s Western Suburbs
The Four Seasons’ 59th and 60th floors are the culinary domain of Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. His self-named restaurant awaits at the bottom of a waterfall-encased staircase, the menu featuring an impeccably crafted fusion of French, American and Asian influences.
We enjoyed dinner at JG SkyHigh lounge on the floor above, where the mirrored ceilings and panoramic views are a stunning combination and the pared-down menu is more casual.
The Parmesan-crusted organic chicken was excellent, and the signature Concord grape sundae, with port wine figs and peanut caramel, is a clever deconstruction of a classic.
Those who prefer to dine closer to Earth can head to the ground floor, where Vernick Fish offers a seasonal menu that favors seafood.
Four Seasons creative director Jeff Leatham has big plans for both lobbies, including Christmas trees, oversized ornaments, a sleek reflective reindeer, and a stunning floral display. The hotel is offering a number of curated experiences for this atypical season. Led by expert craftsmen, its holiday workshops focus on everything from holiday décor to pastries to gingerbread houses to craft cocktails. All classes comply with social-distancing guidelines, and space is limited. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.
Those venturing out in Center City can still peruse the annual Christmas Village. A modified version of the open-air German-style market is scheduled to take over LOVE Park at City Hall Nov. 26- Dec. 24. At press time, reports were that the ice rink at Dilworth Plaza would be open for skating. Alas, the Macy’s Christmas Light Show—a 150-year tradition—has gone virtual.
The stunning views, prime location and first-class service do come at a price at the Four Seasons Philadelphia. Rates start at $650 a night. You may be eligible for a 15-20 percent discount if you book early and/or in advance. The hotel also offers specials for a three-night stay, along with a bed-and-breakfast package.