Lonely Planet Writer

Philadelphia’s newest hotel has no front desk but plenty of insider recommendations

Philadelphia visitors will soon have an alternative to booking a traditional hotel or Airbnb. Opening this spring, Lokal is the city’s first “invisible service” boutique hotel, featuring plush accommodations and no front desk.

Jessup Street, Old City, Philadelphia.
Jessup Street, Old City, Philadelphia. Image by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

“Invisible service is an approach to hospitality that tries to reduce the barrier between a visitor and the real experience of a place,” Stay Lokal co-founder Chad Ludeman said in a statement. “The idea is to still provide all of those things guests want from a hotel without them feeling like they are leaving the neighbourhood and entering something artificial or apart.”

A photo posted by Lokal Hotel (@stay_lokal) on Jan 25, 2017 at 7:22am PST

The lack of visible hotel staff doesn’t mean guests are on their own, though. “We are working tirelessly at the behind-the-scenes service,” Luderman told Lonely Planet. “It starts with technology and communication to make check-in a breeze with no front desk.” Rooms are also outfitted with customised guide books. “It continues with a hyper-curated list of places to go in Philly broken into five categories: Eat, Drink, Shop, Adventure, and Culture. These aren’t your typical hotel recommendations or a generic list of 1000 of the best places on Yelp. This is something we have curated ourselves with the help of many other Philadelphians.” Guests also have access to staff via text message, email, or phone.

A photo posted by Lokal Hotel (@stay_lokal) on Jan 17, 2017 at 3:27pm PST

Located in the Philadelphia’s historic Old City neighbourhood, each of the six units include a bedroom, full kitchen, laundry, and living area, and can accommodate short or long term stays. “We wanted to have our first location in the heart of one of Philly’s best neighbourhoods,” said Luderman. “This spot in Old City just seemed perfect, as it is in the middle of the local shopping and gallery scene where no other hotel exists. This is where the locals live, shop and eat. We wanted people to feel like they lived in a hip loft in the middle of this city, whether they are staying for a night or a month.”

A photo posted by Lokal Hotel (@stay_lokal) on Jan 30, 2017 at 4:15pm PST

Like many places in Old City, the hip loft also has a storied past, with previous occupants including cap-makers for Civil War soldiers. Lokal will begin taking reservations as early as February.

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