Library Bar, Rittenhouse Hotel

As part of an overall reimaging, Hersha Hospitality Trust enlisted the help of design firm Champalimaud to breathe new life into the historic 116-room luxury Rittenhouse Hotel located in Philadelphia. The $10 million renovation of the property’s Library Bar marks one of the first completed enhancements and gives guests a sophisticated new spot to relax and unwind. Inspired by masculine, old-world club lounges, the 20-seat space is tucked away from the hubbub of the lobby, providing an intimate setting accented with a curated collection of books and fine art. “Some hoteliers want the bar to be front and center to gain more business, but in this case, it is the complete opposite,” says Winston Kong, principal at Champalimaud Design. “The client wanted to make it a found venue.”

“To keep a level of intimacy, we went with a dark palette,” says Kong. “The floors are espresso-stained herringbone oak, the walls have dark millwork with a silk-tweed wall covering, and then the bar itself is Macassar ebony with a Carrara marble top.”

A map of old Philadelphia was printed on film and adhered to a clear glass block and placed behind the bar. “Every space needs a focal point,” says Kong. “In this scenario, we wanted the back bar to that point of interest. We wanted it to be discreet. With the clear glass, it maintains a subtlety.”

Lighting played an important role in the renovation. “We didn’t want the space to be lit up like a shopping mall,” explains Kong. “We wanted to create a feature light in the library, so we chose this classic, black crystal chandelier. It provides a jewel on the ceiling and also gives off ambient light.”


To offset the monotone, dark colors, Kong says that the bar stools were upholstered with yellow leather seats. “We wanted to give the space a little bit of life and a little punch of color, but also maintain a level of modernity.”

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