Pittsburgh hotels offer the lap of luxury
Those who have stayed in the penthouses of the region's best hotels include CEOs, heads of state, celebrities and at least one Beatle.
But these rarefied accommodations, each boasting its own interpretation of luxury, aren't the exclusive domain of 1-percenters, boldface names or Sir Paul McCartney.
The high life can be yours, for a price. Consider spending Valentine's Day or a romantic weekend on top of the world with your significant other. The city's best accommodations feature opulent privacy, panoramic views, spa pampering, luxurious beds, cozy robes, delectable food and drink and, of course, bragging rights.
Presidential Suite, Fairmont Pittsburgh
This palatial, 1,200-square-foot redoubt perched on the 23rd floor overlooks the Cultural District and the Monongahela River. It could double as the sleek, secluded lair of your favorite Bond villain. Plan your world conquest as you stand before the floor-to-ceiling windows, with their panoramic view of PPG Place and Mt. Washington.
The decor is modern and masculine, with low-slung obsidian tables, sculptural steel light fixtures and an armoire finished in metallic silver. Light gold walls and lustrous, dark wood floors add homey warmth. The suite has a king-size bed, parlor, a dining room table that seats six, a 52-inch LCD television, laptop safe and multimedia work station.
The suite is separated from the rest of the hotel by two doors, lending an extra layer of privacy. The preponderance of iron and glass is a tribute to the city's industrial heritage. Paintings and photographs by local artists represent the city's artistic legacy.
"The design theme of the entire hotel is art and industry," says public-relations manager Julie Abramovic. "That's kind of an ode to Pittsburgh's two great heritages." The lobby bar of the hotel is named Andys, a nod to Andrew Carnegie and Andy Warhol.
The presidential suite is large enough to accommodate 50 guests for a standing reception. Connecting bedrooms are available.
"We've had small weddings here," Abramovic says.
Presumably, they didn't have to go very far for the honeymoon.
Cost: $4,000 per night
Who slept there: Britney Spears, Glenn Beck, Kanye West and Kid Rock
We were surprised by: The television screen built into the bathroom mirror.
Presidential Suite, Omni William Penn
The carpets and karma run deep in this patrician-style, three-bedroom suite. The 2,500-square-foot piece of posh real estate features hunting prints, gilt mirrors, wall sconces, crown molding, magisterial wing chairs and thick tasseled brocade curtains. It's the crown jewel of this 596-room Downtown hotel.
"The Dali Lama stayed in this room," says Bob Page, director of sales and marketing. "He checked out and Mick Jagger checked in right behind him."
A crystal chandelier hangs in the marble floored foyer. Off to the left is the formal living room, where a baby grand piano seems to conjure the old Hollywood glamour of Fred Astaire movies. The dining room, furnished in French Provincial, adjoins a full kitchenette and wet bar. The master bedroom features a king-size bed draped with a gathered gold fabric canopy.
Cost: $2,500 per night. $2,000 for the Suite Valentines Package. The price includes overnight accommodation for Feb. 11 only; a dinner cooked by the chef in the suite, champagne and chocolates, a dozen roses, breakfast for two and valet parking. Book now; there's only one presidential suite for that price for one night.
Who slept here: Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and Bruce Springsteen, who reportedly gave an impromptu performance in the lobby coffee shop.
We were surprised by: The windows that can be opened
Original Master Suite, Mansions on Fifth
Richard Pearson and Mary Del Brady placed an $8 million bet when they painstakingly restored the fire-ravaged McCook mansion on Fifth Avenue's "Millionaire's Row." The Elizabethan and Tudor grand dame in Shadyside has been reincarnated as a 23-room luxury hotel, replete with dark oak woodwork, stained-glass windows, heraldic carvings, antiques and 19th-century European impressionist paintings.
Ditch the bothersome 21st century and spend an evening in the Original Master Suite, the sleeping quarters of the mansion's first owners, Willis and Mary McCook. Willis McCook was an attorney for Henry Clay Frick. The master bedroom features a gas fireplace, striking crown molding and king-size bed with 600-thread-count Italian linens. The shower features a terrazzo floor and an oversized shower head.
Dine in the Oak Room, which serves rare cognacs, whiskeys and single-malt scotches, as well as wine. Don't miss the original wine cellar, the restored family chapel and the carriage entrance, which allowed the McCook family to stay dry when they disembarked from their horse-drawn conveyance on rainy days. For something cozier and more private, there's a charming, two-level loft at the top of the house, where the servants quarters used to be.
Cost: $295 on weekdays; $335 on weekends
Who slept here: Movie mogul Paula Wagner, who has produced numerous films with business partner and actor Tom Cruise, including three "Mission: Impossible" films, "The Last Samurai" and "Valkyrie"
We were surprised by: The elaborate carving on the newel posts and the many tiny whimsical faces carved into the woodwork.
Presidential Suite, Nemacolin Woodlands
This sumptuous chamber of rooms lords it over the lower floors at the top of the Chateau Lafayette, itself the reigning queen at this 2,000-acre resort in Fayette County. The design and layout of the Chateau was inspired by the Ritz in Paris, and the two-bedroom Presidential Suite strikes the same opulent theme, with high vaulted ceilings, crystal chandeliers and original art. Sip champagne on the private balcony off the living area and drink in the sweeping view of the Laurel Highlands.
The master bedroom features a king-size bed, fireplace and 200-gallon jetted garden tub. Other amenities include two pedestal sinks, a large walk-in closet and a whimsical sculpture by Juren Gorg, one of the many pieces from the Hardy private art collection. The living area features a wet bar. Other artwork in the suite includes a portrait of a woman titled "Reflections" by Ben Solowey and scenes of the Amalfi cost in Italy.
Cost: $3,000. As part of their Sweetheart Package, Nemacolin has reduced the nightly rate of the Presidential Suite to $1,370.75 on weekends and $1,152.25 on weekdays from Feb. 10 to 16. The price, based on double occupancy, includes champagne and strawberries, a $150 dinner credit, breakfast in bed and all taxes, gratuities, service charges and resort fee.
Who slept here: Bette Midler, Taylor Swift, Tony Bennett, Faith Hill, Harry Connick Jr. and Lionel Ritchie
We were surprised by: The suite's luxurious marble foyer with a private library and the 24-hour butler service
Presidential Suite, Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh
The 2,000-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom suite features French doors that open onto a parlor with a dining area with seating for 10. Furnishings include a mahogany credenza, glass-top desk and wet bar. The suite commands a postcard view of the Allegheny River. The master bedroom features a king-size bed, Jacuzzi tub and walk-in shower. The suite includes a kitchen with a dishwasher and refrigerator, as well as an entertainment area with a Bose surround-sound system and giant flat-screen TV.
We were surprised at: The Heavenly Pet Beds for dogs or cats
If you can't swing the penthouse, or it's already occupied, these hotels are offering special packages for Valentine's Day:
Fairmont Hotel Pittsburgh
510 Market St., Downtown.
The Fairmont has a Romance Package that starts at $295 per night and includes overnight accommodations, valet parking, champagne and truffles made in-house. The package is available Thursdays-Sundays year-round, with some blackout dates.
Details: 888-270-6647, www.fairmont.com/Pittsburgh/
Mansions on Fifth
5105 Fifth Ave., Shadyside
Through March, Mansions is offering a Suite Heart Packages, which start at $395 and include overnight stay, chocolates and a heart-shaped arrangement of silk rose petals on a king-size bed.
Details: 412-381-5105, www.mansionsonfifth.com
1001 Lafayette Drive, Farmington, Fayette County
Their Sweetheart Package includes overnight accommodation, champagne and strawberries; a $150 dinner credit and breakfast in bed. Prices start at $398.The package is available Feb. 10-16
Details: 866-344-6957, www.nemacolin.com .
Omni William Penn
530 William Penn Place, Downtown
Their Ooh La La Romance package includes deluxe overnight accommodation, sparkling wine, petit fours, French macaroons, daily breakfast for two, plus standard "romantic" turndown service including robes, music and lighting. Prices start at $227. The package is good Feb. 10-Dec. 31. Some blackout dates apply.
Details: 412-281-7100, www.omnihotels.com
Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel
107 6th St., Downtown
For $289, guests receive one night's accommodation; dinner for two at Braddock's American Brasserie and gourmet Betsy Ann Chocolate. When calling, mention offer code VADE; for online booking, enter offer code LUV. The offer is subject to availability and valid Feb. 10-14.
Details: 412-562-1200, www.marriot.com
Westin Convention Center
1000 Penn Ave., Downtown
The Westin Indulge Your Passions Experience starts at $225 per night and includes champagne and strawberries, complimentary full breakfast for two via room service or in the Penn City Grille and 4pm late check-out upon availability. Valid for Thursday through Monday-night arrivals.
Details: 412-281-3700; www.westinpittsburgh.com