Wm. Mulherin’s Sons restaurant, housed within a former 19th century whisky-bottling factory in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighbourhood, opened last year to superlative praise—being named one of America’s best new spots to dine thanks to chef Chris Painter’s impeccable pastas and pizzas made with house-milled flours and hand-rolled doughs.
While plates were being enthusiastically cleaned in the ground-floor restaurant, however, the building’s owners finessed above, putting final touches on a rustically elegant hotel on the third. Now open, a year after the restaurant’s debut, the Wm. Mulherin’s Sons four-room hotel is so attractive that even the daylight streaming in through its tall window frames onto exposed brick walls and potted cacti seems positively charmed.
Designed more like a home than a hotel (kitchens are complete with personal touches, like cocktail shakers) Wm. Mulherin’s Sons encourages select guests to stick around and get comfortable. Each room is different, but shares DNA: handsome millwork stretches across their ceilings; hulking walnut beds sit square-jawed beneath folksy watercolours by artist Stacey Rozich depicted on headboards and along hallways. The devil is, literally, in details, as his crimson character makes an appearance throughout the whimsical wallpaper, sporting a buttoned-up suit.
Details are what make Wm. Mulherin’s Sons special, after all. In fact, it’s difficult to spot even one tiny element of the hotel that wasn’t made by hand, or purposefully tailored. Reminders of the building’s past life as a factory have been restored, like an embedded scale once used for weighing whisky barrels that’s now set in stone, a permanent fixture in one unit’s original cement floors. The slender rooms are embellished with custom-made furniture, upholstered in suave turquoise- and tobacco-coloured leathers, while plush couches and deep-seated armchairs rest on antique oriental rugs. In one room, an audio console appears in mid-century, mint condition—but it’s not vintage. In fact, it’s entirely new, custom built in Philadelphia, rendered in walnut, outfitted with speakers, a turntable, Bluetooth capability, and a vintage hi-fi receiver; even sound is crafted to represent a hyphenate of then and now.
The hotel shares its appreciation of craftsmanship with the restaurant underneath, whose patrons might rush to finish their plate of pappardelle or cup of coffee, just so they can turn the dish over to see where it’s made (in the cup’s case, by two sisters at the local Madcap Studio).
The reason that all things really are considered at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons, is because it sees a future for its corner spot in Fishtown, part of a formerly unbothered neighbourhood that lay just beyond the usual tourist’s grid. Over the past decade, Fishtown has flourished with creative types, live music, and culinary hotspots, from coffee roasting to gin distilling, in a way that’s all too compelling, worth drawing visitors just a few steps further into Philadelphia. Now, they can spend the night.
Wm. Mulherin’s Sons Restaurant and Hotel, 1355 N. Front St. Philadelphia, PA 19122.
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