The Independent Hotel
What We Love
- Intimate: just 24 spacious rooms
- Near Philly’s best bars and restaurants
- Light breakfast, hosted wine hour and WiFi are included in the Jetsetter rate
- READ MORE: 72 Hours in Philadelphia
What To Know
- Located on a bustling corner that can be loud; earplugs are provided in each room
- Parking is $20 per day
- No fitness center, though guests have access to a neighborhood gym around the corner
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
As you approach it, the Independent’s red brick Georgian Revival façade fits in perfectly with the historic row houses lining Locust Street. Inside, the structure has been stripped to the studs and completely re-engineered into a lovely 24-room inn. A second-story lobby atrium extends up to the fifth floor skylight and is dominated by a colorful three-story painting of Independence Hall by local artist Kim Senior. Off to the side there’s a small parlor space with a gas fireplace that hosts an evening wine and cheese hour.
Bed and Bath
The spacious guestrooms are charming, with wood floors, exposed brick, vaulted ceilings and plenty of natural light. King Rooms take it to the next level, adding gas fireplaces and comfy sitting areas. Dark wood desks and chairs will satisfy the business traveler, while leopard-print wool rugs add a dose of whimsy. The bathrooms are big, with a galley shower equipped with a double showerhead.
On the ground level, Little Nonna’s is the latest restaurant by Philly power couple Valerie Safran and chef Marcie Turney. This cozy Italian eatery specializes in traditional family-style faves like Sunday Gravy: a San Marzano tomato marinara served over the macaroni of the day and a platter of braised beef short rib; beef, veal and pork meatballs stuffed with fontina, fennel sausage, and pork braciole.
In the Area
Real estate agents and the official literature refer to this area as Midtown Village, but everybody else knows it as the Gayborhood, a dynamic district of renovated row houses and sceney restaurants and bars built over the last 15 years by Philly’s LGBT community. The aforementioned duo of Safran and Turney transformed South 13th Street into one of the city’s hottest dining destinations with buzzy Barbuzzo, serving such Mediterranean tapas as lima bean and preserved lemon risotto balls, caciocavallo-stuffed meatballs, and grilled branzino. Just down the street the duo have just completed a renovation of their first restaurant, a hip Mexican joint called Lolita. Stop in early, for one of the best margaritas in Philly, or late, for a satisfying selection of tacos. Chef Turney’s signature candies, Marcie Blaine Artisanal Chocolates, are sold at the duo’s lifestyle boutique, Verde, which is also a great spot to pick up gifts for friends and family.
How to Get There
Terrible service and housekeeping. So unprofessional and unresponsive to multiple requests for housekeeping before 4pm! The continental breakfast request was totally inaccurate 2 out of 3 times. Don’t stay here.
Overall had a positive experience staying at The Independent in with a few caveats. The Center City Washington Square district location is terrific with lots of fun restaurants, cafes and shops close by. The room was very clean and the bed was great. But, guests should be prepared for quite a lot of street noise on Friday/Saturday nights in particular. If you are a light sleeper, as my wife and I are, I would recommend asking for a room away from the front. The Espresso machine and 5pm wine/cheese were great. But the provided breakfast basket was disappointing. We went out to breakfast after the first morning.
The hotel has nice rooms and furniture, but that is more or less the only good thing about it. They have awful staff/front desk service and with that a lot of other things as well. But let me explain...
When we arrived the receptionist (her name was Joyce, I think) acted very strange and confused and started telling us how the system was down so maybe the room key wouldn't work and so on... Luckily it worked and we could go to our room. She didn't give us any info about breakfast, which I remembered is included in the price so I went back to her and asked about it and the receptionist said that she'll bring a list of things we can get in the morning to our room. Of course she didn't.
Then I found out that there were no towels in our room. I went back again to tell the receptionist and she said she'll bring them right away. Of course she didn't - it lasted probably more than half an hour (it was late and we really wanted to take a shower) and she only brought towels and no breakfast list with her.
The room was very dirty. A lot of dust and small pieces of trash on the floor everywhere. Could not walk barefoot in there. Since it was already quite late in the everning we stopped by the reception again to ask about the breakfast and she gave us this paper and said just mark what you would like to eat. Ok, so we did. Asked a bunch of questions about what/how much we can get and she said oh just everything you'd like. Of course we only got probably half of those things next morning and all were pretty bad quality as well. So I wouldn't really call that breakfast. I got some hard, sour piece of bread and a yoghurt. I mean, come on.. night rate was over 250$ and then you get this crappy service. I was completely disappointed. If you offer this it's better not to offer breakfast at all.
During the night there was a lot of noise from the streets, drunk people around, police sirens all the time, etc. It's a party district, but a really "heavy" party district. Nobody warned us about anything, but OK.. that was the least of our problems.
And to make everything worse.. Another receptionist basically threw us out of the room the next day. The checkout was at 12 and the cleaning lady came knocking around 11.15. We said we're packing and checking out etc, so we'll be out soon. Then it was 12.05 and we were finished and already basically at the door to go out and the receptionist comes knocking together with the cleaning lady saying how they'll charge us another night since checkout was until 12. I thought wow, that is truly the rudest service I ever experienced. We were already on the door with our coats and suitcases and she has the nerve to "threaten" me with extra charge for being 5 minutes late in this sh***y hotel. (Also, I am pregnant in 7th month and maybe a bit slower with getting out of bed and getting ready after a totally noisy night, but nobody cared about that). Hell no. Sorry for the long feedback, but this was probably my worst hotel experience ever.
I had an terrible experience at this hotel. From the moment I walked in and was not able to check in or even register, it was awful! The key maker was broken and I was unable to get a key to the room until evening. The street noise from the nightclub (which operated legally after hours) kept many guests from sleeping. I know this bc we were all complaining together. The clerk told us guests request the back of the hotel bc of this reason. How is one supposed to know this? The room was not too clean. They would NOT tell us why we should not park across the street, even though it was convenient. Then we witnessed the goings on in the middle of the night and we knew. The lot was like a circus, complete with the Phila. Police paddy wagon! I had to go in my cousin’s room at 3:00am...waking both she and her daughter. I requested a manager and was continually put off. I requested monetary compensation, as the room was about 250.00 that weekend, but none was granted. Do yourself a favor and book ANYWHERE but here.
Full disclosure: I have yet to stay at the Independent (am supposed to be checking in tomorrow), but after my experience with the desk staff over the past few days, I am seriously thinking of cancelling the reservation. I booked online in February, and booked their Savor and Stay package, which includes a credit for one of the area restaurants, parking and other perks. I have also booked a walking tour of the area in which it is located (Philly's Gayborhood). I have called three times and emailed once, and not once was anyone able to answer all my questions. The first time I called, the woman on the line was clearly rushed and didn't have time for my questions. The second time I spoke to a gentleman who said the system was down and he wasn't able to see my reservation and that he would call back when it was up -- three hours later, with no call I called back and the woman I spoke with knew very little, and while she was able to look at my reservation, knew very little about the mechanics of it, and when I asked about the walking tour, said she knew nothing. Didn't know when it was offered, couldn't see it on my reservation - nada. Needless to say, I am frustrated and debating whether just to cancel the whole thing. Leaning that way!