Comfort & Joy: Accessing Some Seriously Necessary Holiday Cheer at Philadelphia’s Logan Hotel

When finally lifting our heads above the parapets in the wake of nineteen fearful months of on-and-off lockdowns and surges (worriedly, it’s not over yet), there were no shortage of taken-for-granted things we’d missed out on that we began to catalog in our minds. To wit, not having seen certain close friends, not having witnessed live music (that one a genuine shock to the system), and not having cued up at a security checkpoint in an airport…all for nearly two years. Never mind all those vodka martinis never ordered, never drunk.

Of course, when we checked out of the Ritz Carlton one December day in 2019, we could not have possibly known how long it would be before we set foot in Philadelphia again. Considering we make a point of returning at least a few times a year, we were suddenly aware of just how much the act of spending time in one of our favorite American cities has come to mean to our general mental well-being (especially since being in New York City mostly just makes people feel bad about themselves). So as yet another holiday season approached, we were determined to make a plan to correct that situation.

It must be said, whatever its troubles, Philly does very much know how to bring the merry and bright, most especially with its exuberant, German-inspired Christmas Village, complete with an annual spectacular light show projected dazzlingly onto the facade of the imposing 19th Century, Second Empire style City Hall building. But a few local hotels in particular are also well known for their contribution to making the city sparkle. And this year we happened to discover that The Logan (part of the well-curated Curio Collection) had flown bravely in the face of this intractable pandemic by transforming its plush, 1400 square feet James Logan Suite into the signature “Holiday Lodge,” as immersive an experience as one could hope for if the goal is to conjure some very much needed holiday cheer. And we really, definitely needed it.

The Logan has actually been perched elegantly above its namesake Logan Square for just about six years now, after it was finished being converted from a Four Seasons in December of 2015. It has since become one of the city’s most coveted stays, with its stylishly urbane rooms overlooking the majestic facade of the Franklin Institute across the way, and its trio of cosmopolitan epicurean offerings. But as we waited in the festively done up Commons Lounge for the Lodge to become available, we suddenly realized we were being serenaded by the unremitting gloom of Interpol’s ‘Slow Hands,’ rather than by Burl Ives or Bing Crosby. Such is the Logan.

But once settled into the holiday suite, we became quickly giddy with that feeling of being in on something that was otherwise somewhat undiscovered. And the decorating had been carried out with a kind of Elle Decor / House Beautiful sense of good taste, the antithesis of all that Great Christmas Light Fight gaudiness that seems to be trying so hard to take over the seasonal aesthetic. (Do we still have to remind you that more isn’t more?) A prettily lit, human sized Christmas tree occupied one corner of the living room (near to the handsome L-shaped couch butting up against the front windows), complete with wrapped packages that we obviously pretended were for us. Completing the atmosphere, nearby there was an old wooden sled, and a classic film poster for It’s A Wonderful Life, all tapping so perfectly into those favorite childhood holiday memories. Exhibiting keen attention to detail, even the bedroom had its own smaller tree of red bows and white lights, as well as an authentic looking North Pole mailbox – so we left a letter for Santa, asking for him for a good bottle of Scotch, and also wondering if he could possibly help to effectively eradicate COVID from our lives in 2022.

We quickly engaged with a plate of gingerbread cookies that was thoughtfully accompanied by a shaker of perfectly mixed Black Manhattans, a particularly warming tipple as we move into the later reaches of the autumn season. The latter was courtesy of the hotel’s perpetually trendy Urban Farmer restaurant, where we popped down to next to make merry with fellow guests (and friendly husband/wife staff Russell and Jenn).

Because only the bar was in service, it felt like everyone was kind of huddling together on an otherwise quiet Sunday night, surely as a respite from all the genuinely bad news flashing across our television screens upstairs. The soundtrack was so well done – T Rex’s ‘Telegram Sam,’ Cheap Trick’s ‘So Good to See You’, Billy Idol’s ‘Dancing With Myself’ – that we actually felt it might be okay to be taking a break from all the Christmas carols – especially that mercilessly unceasing Mariah Carey song. But what we noticed about the new acquaintances we were making there, was that it fit a trend of meeting people who had moved to Philly in recent years and professed their particular joy at having done so – and we found ourselves revisiting that possible future plan in our own heads. (At one point we even thought about inviting them all up to the Lodge, if only to show off the dining room chairs which were so charmingly covered in oversized Santa hats.)

But once back upstairs, we simply called up A Charlie Brown Christmas on Spotify (as one does at this time of year), and dove back into that plate of holiday cookies. Mesmerized by the glowing lights of Logan Square, we suddenly realized we were having our first truly meditative moment in many, many months – and the emotional tumult of 2021 seemed to fade into insignificance, at least for this one peacefully festive night. We even took the time to shoot a few games on the handsome billiards table that is a feature of the James Logan Suite all year round.

Everyone has their own little personal therapies, of course – and we’ve generally found that closing out the year with a few particularly memorable hotel experiences accomplishes that for us, and helps us to gather our thoughts for the new year ahead. The Logan’s sweetly conceived Holiday Lodge, in fact, seemed designed for exactly that purpose, following eleven-and-a-half months that had incessantly attempted to beat us all down. When we checked out, we definitely did so with a bit of genuine cheer in our hearts – an amenity that we’ll take any day over a bath butler or some extravagantly conceived spa treatment.

(N.B. The Logan Hotel‘s James Logan Suite can be booked any time of the year, of course, with rates starting at $500/night. Consider checking in with three of four of your favorite friends.)

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