Philadelphia gets its very own members’ hangout (and a brilliant boutique hotel) in the shape of Fitler Club, set in the heart of the city. Sign up for honorary membership that’ll include access to a hipster playground: climbing walls, golf simulators, lap pools and bowling lanes. There’s a workspace, too, if you could possibly even dream of rattling through a to-do list when there’s so much more fun to be had. Namely: group runs along the river in the mornings, golf lessons and movie nights in the screening room. Oh, and if you want to pop out, the falcon-wing Tesla is the club car to get you there in style. Go, shawty.
Double rooms from £317.72 ($442), including tax at 15.5 per cent.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast (à la carte options start at US$7).
The club car will drop you off anywhere in Center City in style (a dark grey Tesla X with falcon-wing doors).
At the hotel
Corridor pantry with La Colombe coffee and free snacks, golf simulator, bowling lane, screening room, gym with a climbing wall and Peloton bikes, valet parking, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: smart TV, Smeg minibar with free soft drinks, free filtered water, tea and coffee, air-conditioning, a wireless Marshall speaker and Grown Alchemist bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Design nerds should book out the Master Suite, which was kitted out by French design retailer Roche Bobois, or the Minima-styled Fitler Suite. Both are roomy, though even the smallest rooms at Fitler Club are spacious. Each room has a free-to-raid soft-drink selection in its minibar with added free snacks.
There’s a three-lane indoor lap pool in the Field House gym (it’s 75-feet long for anyone taking training seriously). It’s for over-16s only.
The Spa at Fitler Club has three treatment rooms where you can have hi-tech Phytomer facials, sports massages, sugar polishes and detox clay wraps; along with a sauna, and hot and cold plunge pools. There’s a fitness-class programme, which includes boxing, Pilates and yoga; and personal trainers can be lined up.
This a super-stylish members’ club with a workspace and mega gym – any laptop that isn’t a MacBook would feel out of place. Get that spin gear in the suitcase ready for a Peloton class; or bust out the Sweaty Betty on the riverfront promenade.
The hotel is accessible for wheelchair users, and there’s a specially adapted room available.
All ages are welcome, but the club is not especially geared up for kids. There’s a staffed playroom that can take (potty-trained) children aged three to 10. Extra beds and baby cots can be added to suites. Little Smiths are welcome in the restaurant.
Sit down by the riverside: go for a table either out on the balcony, or watching the water through a window.
The club rules are relaxed, but if you want to rock a black turtleneck and play the tech-start-up-baller part, you’ll fit right in.
The Dining Room serves Italian-American classics in a generously windowed space, particularly handy for admiring the waterfront and Philadelphia skyline. The chef, Philly native Marc Vetri, trained in Bergamo and runs a whole family of Italian restaurants in the city. For burgers, pizzas and salads, beeline to the Back Bar. Breakfast in the Dining Room is an à la carte choice of steel-cut oatmeal with coconut dukkah and banana, Dutch pancakes with mascarpone and poached pears, and stuffed hash browns.
There are two: the Main Bar & Lounge that’s near Dining Room, and the separate Back Bar. At the Main Bar & Lounge, alcohol-absorbing snacks include arancini, fritto misto, and cheese and charcuterie plates; and seasonal cocktails make use of unexpected ingredients (avocado syrup, jade oolong tea). At the Back Bar, food goes down an Italian-mamma route: meatballs, cacio e pepe and pizza; and the drinks list has a noticeable devotion to whiskey. Both bars have a craft-beer selection to please bearded types.
Breakfast hours are 7am to 10.30am; lunch is 11.30am to 2pm; and dinner service is 5.30pm to 9pm. Food is served in both bars until 10pm. The Back Bar closes at midnight.
An in-room dining menu is available between 7am and 10pm.
Fitler Club is in the centre of the Pennsylvanian city of Philadelphia, close to the banks of the Schuylkill River.
Philadelphia International Airport is eight miles away; the drive should take 15 minutes. The hotel can arrange transfers for US$78 each way with a day’s notice.
The city’s 30th Street Station is just over the river and within walking distance of the hotel (under 10 minutes). From here, Amtrak has services to more destinations across the north-east, including Boston, New York, Baltimore and Washington DC.
It’s easy to get around Philadelphia on foot, and you’re staying right in the middle of all the action, but if you do want your own wheels you can park them a few steps away – valet parking at the hotel costs US$60 a night. A car will also come in handy if you’re road-tripping the East Coast; the drive from New York City should take a little over two hours.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s a whole 25,000 square feet of gym to work(out) your way through at the hotel, including Peloton bikes, a climbing wall and a golf simulator with nine holes. Fitness fans will also be pleased to hear that Fitler Club’s riverside location has a cycling- and jogging-friendly trail right outside. There’s plenty to keep art lovers entertained in Philadelphia, which has been called New York City’s smaller (and kinder) sister. Start with a trip to the Barnes Foundation, a vast collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modernist paintings thought to be worth a whopping $25 billion. Check out the biggest gathering of Rodin sculptures outside Paris by paying a visit to the sculptor’s namesake museum on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Or catch the latest bound-to-be-brilliant exhibition on show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. See mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar’s ongoing efforts to make the South Street neighbourhood prettier at the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, an immersive art experience with two indoor galleries, a sculpture garden and, naturally, a load of repurposed pieces of stone, tile and glass.
A Parisian bistro comes to Philly in the form of Parc on Rittenhouse Square, where you can shuck all the oysters and assorted fruits de mer you like; it’s also a great spot for a particularly chic brunch. Calling all hipsters: the city’s finest small plates and craft beers can be found in the white-oak-lined A Kitchen, a classic American eatery where you can also enjoy cheese and charcuterie boards, and sit out on the sidewalk. More small plates await at Vernick, but you can order bigger ones, too: wild-boar lasagne with butternut squash, soy-glazed duck with pear butter, and tagliolini with chanterelle and kale pesto. Head to WM Mulherin’s Sons, a restaurant with rooms on North Front Street for comforting carbs (wood-fired pizza, perfect pastas). On Spruce Street, the quick-thinking chefs at Vetri Cucina will have a quick chat with you at the start of your meal before creating a customised menu for each guest. And for fancy Japanese with superb sushi, try Hiroki, where the chef helpfully throws together a nine-course omakase menu if you can’t quite decide what to order.
Be prepared to play by the rules at Hop Sing Laundromat on Race Street in Chinatown, or find yourself on the swanky speakeasy’s banned list. The meticulously made muddles are worth the obedience, as are the high-ceilinged, candlelit interiors.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Pennsylvania and unpacked their cheesesteaks and bottles of Bluecoat Gin, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Fitler Club in Philadelphia…
Members’ clubs have been having a moment in bright lights, big city places like London and New York for a while – and now Philadelphia is getting in on the action. Guests at this fine Philly stay can be honorary members at Fitler Club – which includes a restaurant, two bars, a spa and a frankly enormous, river-facing gym – during their stay. There’s a screening room, which serves as a distraction for most demographics: Eagles fans (every game is broadcast on the big screen), parents (Saturday and Sunday mornings are probably animated, kid-friendly releases) and cinephiles (the programme is put together in collaboration with the Philadelphia Film Society). There’s also a workspace (MacBooks at the ready), bowling lane and golf simulator, plus a climbing wall and Peloton spin bikes. The Schuylkill River Trail, backdrop of choice for the city’s cyclists and joggers, is right on your doorstep. Just when you thought there might be something the hotel hadn’t thought of, you’ll discover an automated barista in the corridor near Room 10, where a caffeine-supplying computer doles out coffee and tea. This pantry area also has still and sparkling water on tap, fruit and just-baked treats to stockpile. Join our club? Gladly.