Trendy Getaways: Staying Power

More-casual courtesies, plasma screens, higher thread counts and enhanced spas: what's new at our favorite hotels - in the city and just a little beyond

The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia

10 South Broad Street, 215-523-8000;

Much has been made of our Ritz’s imposing marble columns, grand Rotunda lounge, clandestine Vault bar, and, further upstairs, its pillow menu, bath butler, and views of City Hall’s clock tower. You’ve probably heard, too, about the hotel’s nascent next-door tower, future home of residences-with-room-service. And if you’ve stayed lately, you’ve noticed amenity upgrades: more luxe in-room coffee, 400-thread-count Frette linens, wi-fi throughout, and 32-inch plasma TVs in guest rooms (42-inchers in suites). But subtler changes come in the form of the Ritz’s new approach to service: Nationwide, the chain has softened its formality. Example: “It’s my pleasure,” escorted trips to the restroom, and triple-checking on the state of your pinot noir are probably out. Subtler, more casual courtesies — “You’re welcome,” for example — are in.

Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia

1 Logan Square, 215-963-1500;

The past few years have revised this hotel’s Philadelphia Federal formality, too. Beyond lightened-up rooms, the city’s most spectacular suites have been completely renovated, with a bounty of 54-inch LCD TVs and decor that borders on, of all things, contemporary. In the cards this summer: a massive makeover for the underground spa, along with the introduction of impeccable French skin care from nowhere-else-in-town Académie Scientifique de Beauté. Plus, the Four Seasons’ Swann Lounge is still the only place in town where NBA players and other celebs-that-employees-are-prohibited-from-­naming always seem to be hanging out.

The Rittenhouse

210 West Rittenhouse Square,

Over on the Square, they’re always getting ready for another blockbuster to be filmed nearby, so that next time Oprah, Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Bruce Willis or, well, anyone who’s anyone needs a place to spend a couple months, an A-lister won’t have to think twice. Luck be damned; the 13th floor’s 13 suites have just undergone extensive renovations, and now Madonna’s people can have their steam shower and, if they so deign, do their laundry in brand-new washers and dryers without having to leave their rooms. Regular-style guests benefit from upgrades, too — MP3 docking stations in each room; soon, flat-screens in each bath; and celebrity treatment in the form of a champagne reception at check-in on Fridays and Saturdays. In the chichi souvenir department: Lacroix has just bottled its own bubbly, at $110 a pop.

Rittenhouse 1715

1715 Rittenhouse Square Street,

This month, seven new rooms will open in the townhouse connected to 1715 Rittenhouse on the west side, once and for all transforming the spot from urban bed-and-breakfast to bona fide boutique hotel. These newly annexed accommodations offer what busy business travelers want — dataports, glassed-in showers — plus the Anichini bedding, Dean & DeLuca mini bar, Molton Brown bath gels and Salgado Saucier design that guests have come to expect. Still, the side-street hotel isn’t entirely shedding its B&B roots: European breakfasts consist of croissants and French roast from nearby La Colombe.

Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue

200 South Broad Street, 215-893-1234;

Last year, Broad Street’s most historic hotel received a lifestyle lift. The recent renovation of the reception area on the 19th floor features a tranquil, spare lobby and a clerk who greets you by name, making check-in feel nearly spa-like. Beyond the sleek desk lie the elegant café, sexy lounge and pearl-dropped dining room of pretty XIX. The 172 guest rooms have gotten in on the act, too: Bath sheets have replaced regular-size towels, and fluffy duvets have replaced bedspreads, which, in turn, are topped with four pillows of varying firmness.

The Inn at Bowman’s Hill

518 Lurgan Road, New Hope, 215-862-8090;

Just before its second birthday, our new favorite New Hope inn saw fit to add a sixth set of guest quarters. The romantic Manor Suite has the owners’ precisely calibrated blend of elegance and coziness — and more of both: a king featherbed, a marble whirlpool bath that fits two, a roaring fireplace in the living room, and an oversize shower that boasts 11 heads. Private and homey, the space tempts first-time guests to sleep in. On the other hand, a breakfast menu designed by Inn at Little Washington alum Andrew Little is worth rising for. Weekend reservations book two months ahead in high season (April through October).

Skytop Lodge

1 Skytop, Skytop, 800-345-7759;

It’s heartening to know that the Poconos’ historic Skytop remains largely the same old preppy resort after 79 years. Endlessly popular for family reunions, the estate maintains its English countryside-meets-Dirty Dancing vibe. Still, a few things have shifted. Recent additions include ­resort-wide wireless Internet, and a spa with 20-mile views of the Delaware Water Gap. This year, the on-site golf course has been updated; the guest rooms are getting a few million dollars’ worth of sensible new furniture; and there’s a just-blazed nature trail that winds past rock outcroppings, ravens’ nests and a cascading waterfall.

The Virginia Hotel

25 Jackson Street, Cape May,

Cape May’s most exclusive hotel adds a third element to its seashore Victorian-meets-Elle Decor vibe. The modification, like many on this list, is a change for the casual: The lobby lounge is going gastro pub. It’s a smart move, too, to serve trendy small plates (and half-priced wine at happy hour) to guests who prefer front-porch nibbling in Bermuda shorts and sundresses to dressed-up, full-course dining in the hotel’s elegant Ebbitt Room.