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Summer 2017 has been a whirlwind of travel and work. . . it has really flown by! In addition to our trip to Italy (more on that soon) I have also started blogging for Sonesta Hotels, a company I have been fortunate to work with in several capacities over the years.  As part of that, I will be visiting many of their US hotels and sharing my experience on the hotel, the destination, food, and other fun topics so that travelers can get a sense of why to visit.

Check out my first blog posts:

Patio Dining and Live Music at Royal Sonesta Boston

Bottling Custom Wine Gifts for Sonesta ES Suites in Massachusetts

A Poolside Event at Sonesta Philadelphia

It had been ages and ages since I visited Philadelphia, and I was so pleasantly surprised by everything.

I arrived to Philadelphia by Amtrak to the beautiful 30th Street Station. I love grand train stations, and this one was just lovely. I had big plans for the day but otherwise wouldn’t have minded spending some time in the station, marveling at its high ceilings and beautiful detail.

Philadelphia 30th Street Station

I hopped in a taxi from the station, and in less than 10 minutes, I was at the Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square. The hotel is is  stunner, recently re-imagined, and offering a stylish red, gray, and black color scheme with plenty of artsy touches throughout. This is an art hotel in a city that is devoted to the arts, so it is a great spot to rest your head while still being immersed in that art scene.

Philadelphia hotels

Throughout the hotel you can find original art that changes on a regular basis and gives this city hotel a gallery vibe.

Sonesta Philly

They even have their own Warhol Room, a meeting space complete with original artwork by Andy Warhol. The hotel’s proximity to just about everything, including the train station and airport make it perfect for meetings.

Warhol Campbell's Soup

One of the big things I noticed was that, despite being in the heart of Philadelphia, the hotel was so quiet! It had a really calm, cool feel to it, and my comfy room was really an oasis after a busy, hot day of walking around town.

Sonesta Philadelphia 

Philadelphia hotels

Like its Boston and Gwinnett counterparts, Sonesta Philadelphia brings the art theme right down to the food and beverage, featuring its own ArtBar in the hotel.

ArtBar Philly

 

art cocktails Cocktails are liquid art named after famous works-of-art. I had the “Whistler’s Mother” which was a perfect, refreshing choice for a summer day.

gin cocktail

One of the reasons I chose the dates I did was so that I could visit the pool on the 8th floor rooftop of the Sonesta Philly, and just in time for their Insta-meet, which brought together Instagrammers from all over the city for beautiful views, cocktails, and a signature Sonesta #FoodisArt spread. I ate so much!

Sonesta Philly pool

shrimp cocktail

As part of my travels to Sonesta’s hotels, getting to know the destination is also a top priority. Rittenhouse Square is simply beautiful and bustling with people, stunning architecture, and food. . . so much food! I need to go back just to eat my way around the area.

Tria Taproom has everything, including cocktails, on draft. . .

IMG_4486

Wandering around Rittenhouse made me hungry, and it was really hard to decide where to eat.

For lunch on my visit to Philly I chose The Dandelion, a completely charming little pub with fantastic food. I ate every bite of a summery tomato salad with green goddess dressing and topped it all off with a banoffee trifle, because who could pass that up?

shrimp salad

 

   banoffee trifle

Full and happy, I set off to see the city, including some of the adorable sculptures in Rittenhouse Square.Rittenhouse Square

 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is within walking distance to the Sonesta, and it is a must-visit. First, I ran up the Rocky steps (and almost died, holy hot and humid day) and then found refuge in the massive, cool museum where I spent hours taking in masterpieces.

Rocky stairs

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Wild exhibit by Michael Nichols goes through September 17, and it took my breath away. Photos of animals, many in the Serengeti, made me miss Africa and want to travel back again. Nichols captured the beauty, the ferocity, the vulnerability of the animals in such amazing ways that I definitely teared up a bit.

Wild by Michael Nichols

    Wild photography exhibit

The museum also features art from many of the greats, including Monet.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

I was delighted to see part of one of the rooms devoted to works of Degas. Ballet was one of my first loves, and I was over-the-moon to see these pieces.

degas

The entrance fee to the Philadelphia Museum of Art includes entry to the Rodin Gallery, a short walk away, so I headed there next.

Rodin Gallery

Rodin Gallery         

Sculpture is just mesmerizing, and I sat there wondering just how these pieces were created to be so life-like and fluid. Truly amazing.

I was only in Philadelphia for 24 hours, but I was able to see and do so much, thanks to the location of my hotel. There’s still so much of the city that I want to see, and I would gladly make Sonesta Philadelphia my Philly home again.

 

My stay at the Sonesta was complimentary. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: art, Food, hotels, Philadelphia, Philly, Restaurants, Travel, travel blog, travel blogging

One of the best parts about our visit to Asheville last month was that we were visiting locals for a wedding, and all of the wedding events had great local touches. The night before the wedding wasn’t your traditional rehearsal dinner but rather was a casual get together at the very cool space that is Salvage Station.

 

salvage station asheville

A riverfront complex of buildings including a concert hall, lawn games, and several bars, Salvage Station offers all sorts of experiences all in one place, all depending on what area you choose.

salvage station asheville salvage station asheville

From a giant PBR can that houses a local beer bar inside to the River Bar and  Riverside seating to the wide expanse of lawn, Salvage Station has enough space for everyone and was fun for the kids and adults in our party.

salvage station asheville

salvage station asheville salvage station asheville

Since I was with my niece and nephew, we spent a lot of time exploring, checking out the river, playing table tennis, and playing with an antique cigarette machine. . . bad auntie!

salvage station asheville

live music ashveille

In addition to all of the seating areas, Salvage Station has one big warehouse-like space that features live music and plenty of seating, perfect for our big family.

salvage station pulled pork When we tired of exploring and found ourselves hungry, we went to the food stand and picked up some truly excellent fare including pulled pork, tater tots, and fish tacos. The food was simple, fast, and fresh, great for a busy night of socializing and sampling local Asheville beers. We ate and we were up and about again!

fish tacos

Without being invited to the pre-wedding celebrations, we might not have found Salvage Station, so I am excited that it all worked out the way it did!

Have you gotten a good insider recommendation from a local when traveling recently?

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Tags: art, Asheville, Food, North Carolina, Restaurants, Travel

The one night we spent in Old San Juan was an absolute delight, thanks in part to the gorgeous Monastery Art Suites. Being in the heart of Old San Juan, it was definitely different than our beach paradise in Luquillo. The colorful architecture of Old San Juan, along with restaurants, art, and more surrounded the location, and we were a short walk from the sea on all sides.

We arrived at the hotel early for our reservation and received the warmest welcome while our bags were whisked away and stored for us. We had to return our car to the airport (definitely don’t need it in the city) and when we got back to the hotel, we explored the stunning, artistic lobby and events spaces.

Monastery Art Suites Monastery Art Suites The building has a long history and was at one point a Masonic lodge. Thick stone, high ceilings, decorative windows, and beautiful staircases make every corner worth inspecting. There are beautifully detailed surprises everywhere.

Monastery Art Suites

When we were whisked to our room by the friendly woman at the front desk, we discovered our bags had already been brought up for us. The warm and artsy theme of the rest of the hotel carried into our room, which had beautiful colors and little touches. Monastery Art Suites

 

Monastery Art Suites

And while the hotel is historic, we enjoyed many modern touches in our room, including excellent air conditioning that cut through the brutal heat, Apple television, a fridge, coffee maker, and a wonderful shower. Our shutters opened to overlook the sunny lobby area and the umbrellas we saw from the other side when we arrived.

Monastery Art Suites

The hotel’s location near government buildings meant that there were officers right at the end of the street at all times, making it feel complete safe at all hours. From here we were able to walk everywhere we wanted and to retire in utmost comfort at the end of the day. I slept so well and felt so rested after our night here.

I can’t recommend the hotel and its lovely staff enough. Monastery Art Suites will be our Old San Juan home base going forward, and let’s face it, with snow in April, all I am doing is dreaming of going back.

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Tags: art, hotels, Puerto Rico, san juan, Travel

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