Sunday, June 30, 2013

Memorial Weekend in Philadelphia: Palomar Hotel Philladelphia


We arrived at the Palomar relatively early at 10am after breakfast and checking out of the Radisson. The staff manning the checking desk warmly welcomed us and thanking us for being Inner Circle members. We weren't too surprise that she couldn't find a room ready for us at that hour and she said they will call us when the room was ready.

After exploring Reading Terminal Market and having a delicious lunch of Malaysian food at Penang restaurant in Chinatown, we got the phone call that the room was ready. I had booked the cheapest room available and it looked like we were only upgraded to a deluxe room instead of a suite I was hoping for. The room size was average but I liked the quirky deco and colors of the room - definitely much more fun than your typical Hilton/Doubletree.

Palomar supplies Etro amenities which was pretty good. The bath room was a decent size and comes with a tub that's only big enough for one person.

As an Inner Circle member, Kimpton hotels sends treats during a stay. Before arriving at the hotel, the Palomar had contacted me directly and I requested some candy floss to surprise Lydia since it was pretty unusual and one of her favorite food. I also made a note that the trip was to celebrate Lydia's birthday and they also sent up a nice fruit plate, two cupcakes and a nice bottle of sparkling wine.

Kimpton hotels also offers a hosted wine reception every evening. We stopped by for a couple of drinks during our stay before we headed out for dinner. 
Wine Reception
Overall, we would definitely return to the Palomar. I loved the location and its quirkiness.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Memorial Weekend in Philadelphia: Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel Philadelphia


It was a quick fifteen minute cab ride (via Uber) from the airport to the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel Philadelphia. The lobby was still busy at this late hour with wedding reception finishing up their festivities. There were two persons manning the lobby with one taking a long time to help two girls who were trying to check-in or had some issues with their room. The other was constantly on the phone and we were made to wait for about ten minutes before she got to us. It was not fun waiting considering we were really tired and hungry at this point.

When the staff that was on the phone finally got to us, she quickly apologized and informed us that there was a water leak so the room assigned to us was unavailable and they were already fully booked. She was trying to find us another hotel at their expense but as I already knew that most hotels were sold out, this was not going to be easy.

She continued to make phone calls to several hotels with all of them telling her that they had no rooms available. We continued to stay patient as it wasn't her fault and being DYKWIA would not have helped the situation. By some luck, they managed to changed out a toilet in one of their own rooms but needed some time to touch up the room. We gladly made the best of the situation and gave them time to clean up this room while we headed out for supper.

There were no major signs of issues or damage to the room we were assigned and we were happy that it all worked out in the end especially after she refunded the 44,000 points for the inconvenience caused. The room appeared to be a recently renovated room with new furniture and a really comfortable bed. The hotel was undergoing upgrading to a Radisson Blu so I'm assuming the room was part of that upgrading. In addition to its central location nearby Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, I would not hesitate to return to this hotel in the future.

Memorial Weekend in Philadelphia: Introduction & Austin to Philly


Except for one cross country mileage run, I was grounded for the last month or so. Work was hectic with a project deadline fast approaching (12-15 hour days and working weekends aren't fun!) and Lydia was finishing up her last semester of her law degree that she was taking remotely.

By the time we decided that Memorial weekend was a good time to get away, ticket prices to places we wanted to visit like Chicago and New Orleans were absurdly expensive. We had enough miles to hop over to Europe but we couldn't justify using the miles for just a short weekend. We finally decided on Philadelphia since there were some interesting tourist attractions like Independence Hall and the Rocky steps but more importantly, the plane tickets were reasonably priced at ~$350 a person. Not cheap or mileage run worthy but we couldn't complain considering we booked it a couple of days before. The outbound would be on United and the return would be on American.

Finding a hotel was also somewhat challenging. We initially couldn't find a downtown hotel for the first night and had to settle for an airport hotel but thankfully a Club Carlson redemption at the
Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel for 44,000 points opened up later. The hotel was asking for $350 a night so the 44,000 points was well worth the redemption. With the recent Hilton devaluation, I was done being loyal and wanted to try other chains. After reading rave reviews, I had status matched to Kimpton Inner Circle and decided to stay the final two nights at their Palomar Hotel.

I was disappointed that there was no earlier flight to do a free same day change to so we only left evening late on Saturday evening. After working out in the morning and finishing up some last minute work later that day, we were at the United club winding down the busy month with some beers while catching the end of the Champions league game between to Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Only my upgrade had cleared for the short Austin to Houston flight. Lydia was the next person on the upgrade list but the cabin had already checked-in full. I guess someone didn't show up as the gate attendant came up the plane and upgraded Lydia to the seat next to mine right as before the doors were closed.

With both our upgrades already cleared for the Houston to Philadelphia flight, we skipped getting dinner at the airport and just headed to the nearest United Club thinking we would have dinner on the next flight. This turned out to be a big mistake as our 7.15pm flight was a snack service instead of dinner. The only food on offer on the 3 hour flight was a small serving of cold Mediterranean snack plate consisting of some cos-cous, pita chips, cold cuts and cheeses. The food was definitely disappointing considering we were drinking since we got to the airport at 4pm and needed some real food.

I did manage to stay awake for most of the flight watching Pi before nodding off to right before landing. We arrived on time a bit before mid-night when by now we were hungry and just wanted to get to our hotel and hoped there were still places open where we would grab a late bite.