World Heritage City Philadelphia sees old-world charm blend beautifully with urban beauty. The city has not only been at the heart of the country’s revolutionary history but is also the birthplace of the LGBTQ civil rights movement in the US. Today, the city not only has a thriving queer life but has even made efforts to preserve and celebrate sites where LGBTQ history was made. It is these very open-minded sensibilities that have made Philly a top LGBTQ destination in the US. What also makes the city so popular with gay travelers are the many gay hotels in Philadelphia, which welcome them with open arms. From luxury hotels to wonderful B&Bs, gay travelers have tons of accommodation choices to choose from.
It is no surprise that Philadelphia, which is famous as the birthplace of liberty, was the site of the first major LGBTQ rights demonstration in 1965. The city was also the first city in the United States to launch a major marketing campaign for welcoming LGBTQ tourism.
It’s also been more than a decade since Philly officially recognized its ‘Gayborhood’, the gay area in Philadelphia, by adding rainbow flag symbols to street signs. Gayborhood, a gay area in Philadelphia with its lively queer ambiance is the site of pride events like the Philly Pride Parade and Festival and Outfest. Apart from fabulous gay bars, Gayborhood also has the country’s longest-running gay bookstore, Giovanni’s Room. What’s more, Philly has also been home to many LGBTQ rights activists. Today, there are historical markers all over the city, recognizing and commemorating their efforts.
With such a unique and iconic history, it’s important to know what Philadelphia is all about. So, before having a look at the top 11 gay-friendly hotels in Philadelphia, we’d recommend that you read about taking this fantastic 2-hour tour of the city.
Kimpton Hotel Palomar
Right across the street from Gayborhood lies the stunning Kimpton Hotel Palomar, one of the classiest gay hotels in Philadelphia. The 1929 art deco hotel stands proudly amidst Philly’s 18th/19th-century architecture. The classy and historic Rittenhouse Square is a hop, skip, and jump away, as are Philly’s top attractions like Independence Hall.
Kimpton Palomar scores a posh, sophisticated look with edgy artwork by local artists, snazzy red-green busts of Ben Franklin, and a glittering mosaic wall. The hotel makes for a great full-service choice of accommodation, complete with complimentary wine hour drinks and morning tea/coffee. Exercise enthusiasts can head to the fitness center or borrow bicycles for exploring the iconic neighborhood.
Rooms are dotted with neutral colors and offset by green and purple accents. Large-ish windows, especially ones with the views of the city, and heavy curtains are fantastic additions, as are the modern, comfy furnishings. Gleaming white bathrooms relieve all stress, especially the ones with huge soaking tubs. If you’re gay, like to live life classily, and want to stay within walking distance of the gay area in Philadelphia, choose the Kimpton Palomar.
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With top Gayborhood establishments U-Bar and Tavern on Camac right across the street, its no wonder that The Independent is so popular with gay travelers. With a fantastic gay sauna, Club Philly, in the next street, the hotel is great for those looking to dive into Philly’s gay scene. Also, since both the historic district and Rittenhouse Square within walking distance, The Independent is equally popular with intrepid LGBTQ explorers to the city as well.
Housed in a red-brick Georgian Revival building, the small yet elegant hotel greets you with a fabulous 30-feet-high watercolor of Independence Hall. The Independent is dotted with some great artwork by local artists. Even though it’s a small operation, the hotel still has creature comforts like a door-delivered breakfast and a complimentary sip ‘n snack wine reception. It also offers free passes to the Optimal Sport health Club nearby, since it has no fitness center.
With just 24 rooms, the Independent is as intimate and personal as a hotel can get, making it one of the best gay hotels in Philadelphia. Rooms are spacious with lots of character in the form of exposed brick walls, fireplaces, full-length mirrors, large windows, high ceilings, and wooden floors. Modern furnishings in relaxing blue and grey tones with gold accents dot the rooms. There’s even a fun, old-fashioned bedside alarm clock, as well as books to read. Mod-cons in the rooms and excellent ensuite bathrooms make staying here a fab experience.
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If exploring Philly is on your mind, then the gay-friendly Warwick Hotel at Rittenhouse Square is perfect. Some of the top things to see in Philadelphia, like Reading Terminal Market, City Hall, and Kimmel Center concert hall, are within walking distance. On the other hand, Old City attractions like Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are a mere four-minute train ride.
The coolly contemporary hotel begins to impress right from the lobby itself. There are thought-provoking quotes on white walls and starburst lights hung from the towering ceiling. The staff is well-equipped with the knowledge of the neighborhood and top-notch in their service. In-room spa services are a wonderful thought, especially if you’re traveling with your partner.
There are even two on-site eateries for satisfying a gamut of cuisine cravings. After that, you can work off the delish Philly calories at the large fitness center. Environment-conscious guests will particularly love the fact that the hotel is a station for Philadelphia’s Indego bike-share program. Evenings are great for getting out and exploring the Gayborhood, a 10-minute walk from here.
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The Logan Philadelphia
The boutique beauty that is the Logan Hotel at Logan Square is one of the more discerning gay hotels in Philadelphia, especially if one is a culture buff. History, art, and science museums and cathedrals abound the surrounding area, which is something of a cultural district. The hotel itself is a work of art. An open-plan lobby with a bar, a double-sided fireplace, and French doors welcomes guests. It opens out to a fountain-equipped courtyard, which is the largest outdoor space in a Center-City Philly hotel. Custom art installations dot the hotel. The chandelier, with famous Philadelphians’ sepia-toned portraits, is perhaps the most striking piece of art installation ever.
Since Logan’s business travelers always flit around for work, leisure guests are particularly doted upon. Consequently, some of the best spaces and services are available for leisure guests. The staff is always ready with tips and local recommendations, while the Library is a haven for bibliophiles. Respites include a billiards table, a bar, and a fabulous steakhouse for a restaurant.
The highlight of the hotel is the bioluminescent spa with a spectacular five-foot indoor pool. Rooms are luxurious and done up in tones of gray, navy, and chestnut. Black-and-white photographs clash brilliantly with the lime-green pillows. Hi-tech mod-cons, a super-comfy mattress, and soft-lit lamps complete the picture of perfection.
Gayborhood is a 20-minute walk, while the cluster of attractions in the historic district is a five-minute subway ride. The subway station is also five minutes away. Rittenhouse Square, on the other hand, is a mere 10-minute stroll.
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The Rittenhouse Hotel
Old-money luxury comes to Philadelphia in the form of the sawtooth-ziggurat that is the Rittenhouse Hotel. The gay-friendly hotel’s unusual design leads to uniquely-shaped rooms with a generous footprint. In fact, the rooms here are some of the largest guest rooms in the city. Rooms celebrate the hotel’s gloried past with gold-plated fixtures and navy carpets. The suites are more modern, with spice-toned furnishings and wood-grain bathrooms. However, all rooms boast of panoramic windows with sweeping views of Rittenhouse Park and the beautiful city.
Gays who appreciate the good life and are willing to splurge will love the ostentatiousness at the Rittenhouse, for the hotel features a slew of amenities. Lacroix, the modern French restaurant, is one of Philly’s most elegant dining experiences. Scarpetta is one of the best places for fresh Italian food and cocktails in the city. Plus, there’s also the swanky Library Bar. One of the best gay hotels in Philadelphia, the hotel even has a fitness center with a pool and steam/sauna. Make it a point to give time to the luxurious day salon and spa which is extremely popular with locals. You never know who you might end up meeting.
Gay travelers looking for excitement outside the decadence of the Rittenhouse won’t have to go too far. Since it’s located at Rittenhouse Square, the famous gay bars of Philadelphia like Woody’s is a 15-minute walk. The historic center is a five-minute PATCO ride.
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The small, art-deco Alexander Inn is one of the best gay hotels in Philadelphia in the heart of the gay area in Philadelphia. The hotel attracts a large gay clientele, what with fabulous bars like Bike Stop and Boxers PHL just round the corner.
All rooms at the Alexander Inn are sound-proof, well-maintained, and boast of great views of the Center City. Leather and wood furnishings and artwork accents dot the chic monochromatic rooms. Mod-cons in the form of flat-screen TVs and direct-dial telephones with auto wake up are useful features.
If you have your own car, Alexander Inn has a steal of discounted parking at a garage nearby. There’s a 24-hour gym for those who don’t wish to miss their workouts. For the price offered, there’s even a continental breakfast on the offer. What’s more, the hotel is a 15-minute walk from Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Museum of American Revolution.
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The Gables Bed and Breakfast
How would you like to live in a charming, historic inn just 20 minutes from Philadelphia’s major attractions? The Gables B&B is located in SW Cedar Park, an easy, 25-minute trolley ride to the Center City. This ornate, three-story brownstone features dashes of cherry, ash, mahogany, and chestnut, coupled with tons of Victorian curios and trinkets.
All ten rooms feature Victorian furniture and extremely comfy beds. While some have ensuite bathrooms, some are shared, so make sure to ask while booking them. Five bedrooms have fireplaces and one even has a glass-enclosed patio.
Breakfast is taken seriously here. Menus change daily, with tea, coffee, cereal, and muffins being permanent fixtures. Mornings are for enjoying a cuppa on the idyllic wrap-around porch. All these elements make for an intimate, cozy ambiance, making Gables the perfect romantic sojourn for gay couples visiting the city.
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Thomas Bond House
The best way to explore the historic district of Philadelphia is to stay at the equally historic gay-friendly Thomas Bond House. The 1769-built four-story Georgian House has been beautifully restored, and it was supposedly a place where Ben Franklin hung around. Thomas Bond House is a mere five-minute walk from the fellow historic Betsy Ross House. It is also the starting point for this spellbinding 1.5-hour walking tour through the Old City of Philadelphia. Not only does the tour tell you all about America’s Founding Fathers, but it explores the iconic Independence Hall and Liberty Bell.
Rooms at Thomas Bond House blends 18th-century Georgian style, American colonial style, and modern living elements. Marble fireplaces radiate charm, while the four-poster beds are heavenly for a good night’s sleep. The period parlor room is extremely inviting, and great for relaxing on lazy days. Weekdays see guests being served continental breakfasts, while weekends see a full breakfast. What’s more, there’s also complimentary ice water, tea, and coffee, while cookies are served at 8 pm. For a tight ship of a B&B, Thomas House makes for a fantastic place to stay in Philly.
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Gays looking to shop and stay luxuriously on their Philly vacation should know that nothing can beat The Westin. Located midway between Rittenhouse Square and City Hall, The Westin is easily one of the most luxurious gay hotels in Philadelphia. In fact, the One Liberty Observation Deck, the highest view in the city, is right next door. The hotel impresses right from the very lobby itself, with turquoise and muted blue chairs beckoning the weary traveler.
Westin’s rooms have always been known for their super-comfy beds, and this one is no different. Even standard rooms are equipped with Starbucks coffeemakers and thick terry robes, apart from the Westin signature Heavenly Bed. Apart from all mod-cons, the rooms also boast of contemporary touches including soothing wall decor, plush carpets, and sleek furniture. Workout fanatics will appreciate the top-notch fitness center. What’s more, the hotel’s street-level lobby is also connected to the Philly shopping mecca Liberty Pace. Finally, dine at Winthorpe and Valentine, which also has an optional ‘superfoods’ healthy menu and an extensive wine list.
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LGBTQ travelers looking for an upscale, affordable downtown Philadelphia hotel will love the francophile Sofitel. The exterior chaos of Rittenhouse Square fades away as you set foot into the lovely, spacious lobby. It’s gorgeously decked out with comfy lounge seating, funky artwork, and a geometric-print stone floor.
Older guests will be pleasantly surprised by the lack of hi-tech amenities in the rooms, which features the 2000s-era Bose radio/alarm. The rooms are avant-garde in design, with abstract artwork, herringbone-style headboards, and geometric-print carpets. The cloud-like mattress is particularly raved about, as are the additional in-room amenities including fresh flowers and Lanvin bath products.
Sofitel is one of the best gay hotels in Philadelphia for travelers who want to explore Philly by the day and its gay scene by the night. Some of the best gay bars in Philadelphia are a 10-minute walk. Meanwhile, the patriotic, iconic, and historic Independence National Historic Park housing Independence Hall and the Ben Franklin Museum are a 15-minute walk.
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The Windsor Suites
The Windsor Suites is the perfect accommodation for larger groups of LGBTQ travelers to Philadelphia. This all-suites gay-friendly hotel gives guests the options of both one-bedroom apartments and studio ones. All suites feature gorgeously muted color schemes, modern furnishings, and comfy padded headboards. Plus, there are also bells and whistles like full kitchens, sitting areas, dining tables, living areas, and ergonomic roller chairs at work desks. Some units even have private balconies.
For a suites hotel, Windsor has a great set of extras. There’s a fantastic rooftop outdoor pool with a lazy sundeck. There’s even a small, 24/7 fitness center as well as the quintessentially Irish pub, Con Murphy’s downstairs.
What sets the Windsor apart is the extreme warmth of the staff. What’s more, Windsor’s location near Logan Square is great. It is within walking distance of both the Center City, the Museum District, as well as the vibrant Gayborhood.
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Just So You Know:
- Philadelphia’s OutFest, which is held annually around National Coming Out Day, is the largest coming out event in the world.
- Philadelphia is also home to the oldest LGBT weekly in the US, the 1976-founded Philadelphia Gay News.
Get Some Culture in Philadelphia:
- Philadelphia Pride Parade and Festival: Philadelphia was one of the USA’s first cities to host a pride parade in 1972. The three-day Philly Pride Parade and Festival kick off with a Pride party. The annual William Way Homecoming follows it the next day. The festival ends with a splashy and vibrant Parade.
- Gayborhood Tour in Philadelphia: Hop on to this 1-2-hour walking tour and get to know all about the people and institutions important to Philadelphia’s LGBTQ history.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Philadelphia:
- Woody’s: One of the most popular gay bars in Philadelphia. There’s a dance floor, a video bar, and even a cozy coffee bar.
- Tavern on Camac: This friendly LGBTQ spot encourages singalongs at its piano bar. There’s even a dance floor upstairs.
- Voyeur Nightclub: One of the most dazzling gay dance clubs in Philly. There’s erotic video art, a fantastic dance floor, and lasers and chandeliers adding to the sexy ambiance.
- U Bar: A laid-back gay bar perfect for beginning your night of fun with cheap but great drinks.
- Bike Stop: A fabulous leather fetish bar which is also a sports and cruising bar with a dance floor. Need we say more?
Best Gay Saunas in Philadelphia:
- Club Philly: One of the best gay saunas in Philadelphia with a gym, steam room, and theme nights.