Where to stay on a visit to Philadelphia depends on why you are visiting. While each neighborhood has its own amenities, some areas are much more convenient for exploring various parts of the city.
Most hotels offer parking at a daily cost on-site or in a nearby lot. The Official Visitor Site for Greater Philadelphia is an excellent resource for finding descriptions, reservations and discounts, including the Philly Overnight Hotel Package, which includes hotel accommodations for two nights, free parking and other perks.
Bed & Breakfast Connection of Philadelphia offers cozy and unique accommodations if that's more your style.
Old City is the most convenient place to stay if you’re visiting to check out the historic attractions in around Independence National Historical Park. This is where you’ll find the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
The area is also a mecca of shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife, so you won’t need a car in Old City. However, with the exception of hostels and a few mid-range chains, this is an expensive area, and rooms tend to fill quickly, especially in summer.
Society Hill is just south of Old City. It offers close proximity to the main historic attractions in a somewhat quieter, more residential setting. Several bed-and-breakfasts provide nearby alternatives to Old city -- often with lower prices and more character.
If you can’t find an affordable room near Old City, anywhere in Center City is convenient for visiting the historic area because Center City is compact and easily accessible by walking, public transportation and tour buses.
In addition, staying in the center of Center City will put you closer to the museums of the Parkway and the rest of downtown Philadelphia, including Rittenhouse Square, a big tourist draw.
Bed-and-breakfasts can be found throughout Center City, especially in and around Washington Square West, Society Hill and University City.
Washington Square West is a convenient, centrally located place for anyone to stay and is especially popular with gay visitors since it is the center of the city’s gay culture. Rooms in the area fill up far in advance of the annual Equality Forum in May and other gay events.
The Parkway is beautiful during the day when all the museums are open, but it can be a bit desolate at night. It is home mostly to chain hotels, but it is also close to Center City, so isn’t a bad option if you find a better deal near the Parkway than right in Center City.
In addition to Center City, you’ll find plenty of chain hotels near the airport, including the Philadelphia Airport Marriott, which is directly connected to the terminal. There is also a Holiday Inn near the stadium, but the only reason to stay there is because it is convenient for those attending events at the sports arenas.
Those in Philadephia on business will probably be set up in or near Center City, which is skyscraper central. It's a bonus that when the workday is done you will be in a good spot for exploring and enjoying the city after hours.
University City, just across the Schuylkill River, is a bit less expensive than Center City while still convenient.
Home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, it's a good choice for students visiting with their families or parents visiting students since it is also home to many affordable bars and restaurants.