Penn’s View Hotel: A charming family-run hotel in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic district

Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia and settling into Penn’s View Hotel, I left the hotel for a stroll. I had no particular destination in mind, I just wanted to check out the area and see what was around.

philadelphia-hotel-penns-view-hotelAlmost immediately, just a couple of blocks away, I turned into quaint Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continually-inhabited residential street in America. The warm colours of the nearly-setting sun bathed the colonial homes and cobblestone streets in a gorgeous light. After a turn down a small street lined with art galleries and boutiques, I stumbled upon first the Christ Church, where George Washington and William Penn attended services, and the Betsy Ross house. A few minutes after that, and I stopped to peer through the iron gates of an old cemetery. Upon reading the plaque, I discovered this was the burial place of Benjamin Franklin – and sure enough, there was his gravesite.

One of the big drawing points of the Penn’s View Hotel is this incredible, unmatched location only steps away from historic Philadelphia’s most interesting spots, including Independence Hall. Located just off Front and Market Streets, and a block from the SEPTA train, there is no better spot for a visit to the birthplace of the nation.

You arrive at a charming block of buildings, facing cobblestoned Front Street and the Delaware River, overlooking Penn’s Landing. The 1828 building that houses Penn’s View Hotel was originally built as a shipping warehouse for the port; it later served as a hardware store and coffee house. After the 1950s the building sat vacant for many years, until the Sena family bought and renovated it, and Penn’s View Hotel opened in 1990.

The Sena family’s background includes many decades and several family members involved in the restaurant business. Although Penn’s View is the family’s first hotel, it opened along with the Ristorante Panorama, an award-winning Italian Restaurant and wine bar, which holds the distinction of having the world’s largest wine preservation system, and serves more than 120 wines by the glass. The Il Bar offers wine flights and special tasting nights, winning acclaim from Wine Spectator and Food & Wine; the New York Times called it “the mother of all wine bars.”

Other onsite facilities and features include wireless internet throughout the hotel and guest rooms (no additional charge), and access to the fitness room.

Each of the 51 guest rooms are finely appointed, with queen or king beds. Some include working fireplaces or terrace balconies with views of the river and Benjamin Franklin Bridge; and premium rooms feature Jacuzzi bathtubs. Complimentary, European-style continental breakfast and the morning newspaper are included with each stay. Several function rooms are available for meetings and private parties.

Penn’s View Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Sena family’s loving restoration resulted in an architectural award in 1995 from the city of Philadelphia. Owner and family patriarch Luca Sena is a native of Napoli, Italy, arriving in the U.S. in 1967 with his father Carlo, a Master Chef. Luca’s son, Carlo A. Sena, manages the hotel and continues his family’s tradition of hospitality.

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