The industrial powerhouse cities and ivy-clad college towns in Pennsylvania are within easy reach of the picturesque countryside. Whether it’s soaking up Philadelphia or a rural respite, you’re going to need a great hotel. Here’s our pick of the best in the Keystone State – bookable on Culture Trip.
Art lovers can get close to the action with a stay at the city loft-style Maj Hotel. Bordering Fairmount Park, it’s close to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum. Stylish but simple rooms feature exposed brick, metal and wood furnishings, along with occasional splashes of color. Need some outdoor space to call your own? Book a room with a private patio. Insomniacs can peddle all night in the 24-hour gym, powered by coffee and croissants from the nearby Whole Foods Market.
Bike through wildflower-filled meadows, across trestle bridges spanning babbling brooks, through the woods and along the creek. The historic Penn Wells Hotel makes an easy base for accessing the Pine Creek Rail Trail, one of the best bike trails in the region, at 62mi (100km) long. The hotel itself wears its 150-plus years of history with style; think deep reds, hunter green and mahogany fixtures. It’s grand. Stop in the lobby for a cocktail or a choppy cobb salad, and warm yourself by the open fire.
Artsy Swarthmore College, 1mi (1.6km) away, is the source for much of this hotel’s artworks. Sculptures and prints by students and alumni decorate the walls, including the light-filled rooms with wood accents and rural views. The hotel also hosts four exhibitions a year by both distinguished and emerging artists. Book the two-bedroom king suite for a view across the picturesque Swarthmore College main campus. Tuck into food and drink from local farms, vineyards and breweries, including a delicious burger with applewood smoked bacon.
Take afternoon tea in the Cameo Room of the XIX Restaurant. The belle-époque architecture of this historic hotel is perhaps most on show in this domed room, all curving archways and alcoves, ornate plasterwork, leaded windows and French doors that open to generous balconies. Dating from 1904, the Bellevue exudes elegance. Rooms range from those with city skyline views to luxury suites with parquet flooring.
Grab a fluffy bathrobe and escape to the scenic Cumberland Valley in southern Pennsylvania to stop by the world-class Springs Eternal Spa at the Omni in Bedford. It covers 30,000sqft (2,787sqm) and is fed by eight natural mineral springs; there’s also a spa garden for relaxing after a treatment. Follow the Bedford Bath ritual with an aromatic steam, a mineral deluge, a whirlpool and finally, a cool plunge to leave muscles feeling relaxed. Reservations are recommended six to eight weeks in advance. There’s also a golf course and the Clubhouse, where you can sip on spiced tortilla soup even if you don’t play.
Live, eat, sleep and breathe music at the Hotel Rock, part of the Rock Lititz campus, a 96-acre (39ha) production community for the live-events industry. This unique hotel combines art and technology to create a “one-of-a-kind lodging adventure,” with decor such as road case doors to backstage pass wallpaper. If you’ve been living too hard, hire a hybrid bike or do multiple laps in the indoor pool to restore balance before devouring a whoopie pie.
Sure, you can relax, but there’s just so much to do. Heritage Hills Resort features an 18-hole golf course. But in winter, this sprawling property also offers outdoor tubing and ice skating, and there’s minigolf and soccer in summer. Book a treatment in the spa to reward yourself for your hard work. The mineral salt scrub can be tailored to be relaxing or energizing. Cozy up in the rooms and suites, decorated in shades of brown; choose one with a whirlpool if you like to bathe near your bed.
Culture lover, look no further for a place to lay your head. On Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this hotel is close to the Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum. Take it all in from the rooftop infinity pool. Use the customized grocery program, allowing you to choose your favorite essentials from Trader Joe’s, which will be ready in your fridge when you arrive in your cozy cream-and-brown room. Try out the Irish pub downstairs for a pint of Guinness.
For more options, discover our guide to the best vacation rentals in Pennsylvania and book now on Culture Trip.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.