Hotel Palomar Philadelphia Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The 230-room Palomar near Rittenhouse Square Park is one of the city's chicest boutiques, with bold, sleek style, excellent service, and contemporary rooms with plush, comfortable beds. The Palomar delivers the Kimpton chain's typical thoughtful extras -- an open-arms pet policy, a hopping nightly wine hour, free morning coffee and tea -- and the location on South 17th street is near some of the city's best restaurants, bars, and shopping. In Philadelphia, only Le Meridien offers a comparable boutique experience.
Le Meridien Philadelphia Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Le Meridien is one of the most stylish hotels in Center City, with a striking combination of historical and modern design. Only the Hotel Palomar offers the same level of luxury boutique experience. But it's not quite perfect: Some rooms face an interior atrium and lack privacy.
The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia Rating: 5.0 Pearls
The Ritz is housed in a stunning 1904 bank building designed after the Pantheon, and its grand rotunda lobby delivers serious "wow" factor. The terrific restaurant from celebrity chef Eric Ripert is also a highlight. But the large, bright rooms aren't as stylish or impressive as the public spaces.
The Rittenhouse Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This elegant, 98-room luxury property right on Rittenhouse Square Park has the largest rooms in the city -- they start at 450 square feet -- and draws both well-heeled families and business travelers. The first-class service, impressive original artwork (including drawings by Mary Cassatt, whose father's house once stood on the site), and kid-friendly amenities are all pluses, but the room decor -- though stately -- is a little dated.
Sofitel Philadelphia Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The most notable feature at this elegant Sofitel near Rittenhouse Square Park is the sleek restaurant and lounge, Liberte. Light wood details and plush white beds make the rooms refined and comfortable, but they lack the striking boutique style of the Palomar across the street. (The hotel plans to renovate in the near future.)