Have you ever wanted to travel to Europe without leaving your own city? Like, take the subway about four stops to stay in a French hotel and pamper yourself?
This is not a staycation, mind you — that just reminds you and everyone else you know on social media that you’re too broke to travel.
Getting the hell out of dodge is always a much needed escape. Leave the dog/cat/ferret, the cleaning, the computer, the laundry all behind for a couple days. Allow yourself to relax and decompress, or get wasted until dawn, incur a massive hangover and order room service. Or maybe just do it all, since you have two nights to kill.
The best way to act Euro while still being in Philadelphia is by spending the weekend on Rittenhouse Square. It is the perfect spot to people watch, eat exotic food, drink wine and wear a beret. I actually cannot vouch for the berets, but odds are peeps are out there wearing them.
My first love is the Sofitel Hotel because it is French and has the most amazing beds this side of the Mason-Dixon. The beds are huge with down comforters and feather pillows that swallow you. The terry robes change you as a person, at least for the weekend.
I suggest upon arrival you jump in a hot steam shower, call room service and order a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Once those muscles are in the right mood, throw on the robe and start day drinking while watching cable in bed.
If you start to get tipsy, call room service for some yummy appetizers to pad your tummy.
So now your friends are here because they want to see how the other half live, and it is time to go be French on the outside.
The first stop is Rouge a few blocks down the street. Drink what you will but the tuna tartare appetizer is a must. It’s so good you may just want to order it twice. This is the happy hour stop so noodle around the menu and wine list. A nice red pairs well with the tuna, but Rogue has a wide selection to make any palate happy.
For dinner, Parc is just down the block and well, it is French. Pomme frites, steak, escargot, there is not enough time to eat everything but do try. And the ambiance is tres francais.
Actually Philadelphia’s famous restauranteur Stephen Starr couldn’t possibly get more of a French atmosphere in here. So be prepared for the staff and clientele to appear aloof. Then remind yourself, it is just an act. We really are not in France.
Now I am about to break the rules by about 6 blocks and suggest for an after dinner aperitif you head to Midtown and go to Time on the 1300 block of Sansom Street.
You are still being French because one of the owners is from Paris, and you are about to consume absinthe, old-style.
The pageantry alone is just to die for, and the 130 proof liquor with its trippy high will probably have you thinking you can now speak French.
There is a nightclub upstairs if you need to get your groove on or a car service of some kind to make sure you get back to the same hotel you checked into.
Now it is day two and you need help. The toxins, the head and body ache – call room service for breakfast immediately and get either a bloody or a mimosa or both mixed together with, like, a raw egg.
Do not move until you are properly fed, hydrated and caffeinated. Make sure you are wearing your fluffy robe to help you recover, and don’t worry because day two is kind of like an A-list rehab day.
Now it should be about noon or 1:00 p.m., and you are ready to slowly crawl about a block to La Reve Rittenhouse Day Spa a.k.a. the French Garden Room Day Spa.
No worries, you had the front desk at the Sofitel get you an appointment, and they were kind enough to remind you since your brain cells are a little mushy.
Now this is the kind of day we all want pretty much all the time. Facials, cleanses, massages with a glass of cucumber water on the side. Just lay back and let someone’s fingers do the pummeling.
Upon returning to the hotel, get back into the fuzzy robe while enjoying your life because it’s nap time. Again don’t worry, you keep asking the front desk to make all your reservations so you can operate on limited brain power when you are awake.
Dinner time, and you want to practice “adulting” skills. Your reservation is at the French restaurant Lacroix, a couple blocks away in the Rittenhouse Hotel. You chose the super expensive option which is to eat in the kitchen with chef and watch him prepare your meal.
It sounds a little strange, but apparently it is a very French thing to do. Besides, you need the carbs to keep up.
On the way back to the Sofitel, you cross Rittenhouse Square Park to keep on people watching and celebrate the fact that you actually can sit your satiated ass on the wall.
And, since you are from Philly, you recognize what a dignified honor it is to actually sit freely on that wall.
Now that you are back in the best bed ever with nowhere near the blood alcohol levels from the previous evening, snore … I hear it is French to snore too. Soon it is daylight and alas time to head out.
Be sure to shower and leave the towels on the bathroom floor since you can’t do that at home. Have coffee and a light breakfast with croissants and fruit on your last day in Philadelphia, France.
Like any trip, the way home sucks. But the awesome part is that you live less than a mile away from your home. You are actually still in Philly.
Now while that reality is sure as hell going to cause ample stress in a few hours, make the best of it in the now.
Throw your stuff into a cab, car share or whatever keeps a silly grin on your face while saying ‘bon jour’ with your beret perched crookedly on your head.