From the moment I arrived at the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, I was caught up in the history and whimsy of the place. It provided a great location for me to stay while I wandered Pittsburgh.
History of the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh
Located in the Golden Triangle Area of downtown Pittsburgh, across from Mellon Square Park, the Kimpton property occupies a 1903 Beaux Arts-style building that originally housed an electric company and then a law firm established by James H. Reed, a close friend of Andrew Carnegie.
The Reed Smith Law Firm continued to operate out of the John H. Reed Building until 2008. When the firm moved, Kimpton purchased the 9-story building and renovated it into a 248-room hotel that opened in 2015.
Even standing outside in the midst of such history, you find whimsy if you are looking for it. I was amused by the 4-foot dog statue to the right of the entrance but didn’t realize its significance until later. Duke, named for the Duquesne Light Company once housed in the building, is a nod to the state dog, the Great Dane, and one of many fun Pittsburgh references throughout the hotel.
Inside the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh
Like others in the Hotel Monaco line, the Pittsburgh location is designed to look like it's occupied by a traveler who has collected objects from around the world. At the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, that collection is bird cages. You’ll find bird cages throughout the hotel, including the chandelier in your room.
Playing off the bird cage idea, the décor incorporates fowl wherever it can, especially in the second floor gathering space known as the Living Room. There, you’ll see birds’ feet designed into the chandelier, a green bureau painted with an oversized owl, and a giant wishbone on a stack of books.
There are other, non-avian whimsical touches in the Living Room. A half-painted over portrait, one of two in the hotel, hangs above the fireplace. Two busts, one with books on her head the other with a tank on her head, can be found here.
General Manager Rob Mallinger says he gets a lot of questions about the portraits and busts, and like so many other elements in the hotel, both are meant to amuse and generate conversation. There’s no reason behind either.
The Rooms and Experience at Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh
However, there seemed to be a reason for every element of my room. In fact, my biggest disappointment was that I didn’t realize just how much thought went into it until later when I spoke with Mallinger.
The rooms are decorated in yellow, white and black, the colors of Pittsburgh’s flag; the yellow penguin desk lamp is a nod to the city’s championship hockey team; and the pillow on the armchair is adorned with a Great Dane on a scooter.
While most hotels don’t think twice about the closet, the Hotel Monaco’s closets are lined with custom wallpaper, featuring neckties with keys, bridges and Great Danes. The ties recall the attorneys who used to work in the building, the keys symbolize the hotel’s rooms, and the bridges pay homage to the city’s 446 bridges.
I enjoyed my stay at the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh. The bed was luxurious, and I had no trouble accessing the WiFi on my laptop. Additionally, the room was filled with little touches like the full length, turquoise-colored mirror and brightly lit bathroom that made it easy to shower and get dressed every morning.
The only issue I ran into during my stay was one with the cleaning staff. For some reason, my bar of soap was removed the first day and never replaced on subsequent days. I mentioned it to the front desk at check out, and they were as perplexed by it as me.
Coffee, Wine and More
Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh does not provide coffeemakers in the rooms. Instead, the hotel serves coffee and hot tea in the Living Room from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekends. If coffee in your room is a must, you can request a Keurig from the front desk.
More of a wine drinker? The hotel also hosts a daily wine hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Living Room. In addition to wine, you can sip a Penn Pilsner from local Penn Brewery and sometimes a cocktail, like spiked hot cider. I recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to unwind and socialize with other guests.
I didn’t get a chance to eat at the hotel’s 120-seat restaurant, The Commoner, other to have a breakfast of coffee, juice, fresh fruit and toast. Breakfast service was good, and I will consider dining here the next time I visit Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it up to the Biergarten either. The open-air, rooftop beer garden serves hard-to-find brews, craft cocktails and schnapps. You will also find German-influenced snacks such as a house made pretzel, bratwurst and apple strudel.
Beyond the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh
The Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is ideally located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. Sports fans can easily walk to Heinz Field, PNC Park and PPG Paints Arena. Also within walking distance are The Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Science Center and Heinz History Center, which I highly recommend, especially if you’re a fan of Mister Rogers.
Using the hotel’s complimentary bicycles, you can range even further out to the Strip District where you can sample a sandwich from Primanti Brothers, known for its sandwiches topped with coleslaw and French fries. The National Aviary is also within biking distance from the hotel.
The University of Pittsburgh is only a few minutes’ drive away. There, you can visit the Nationality Rooms, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Museum of Art. Nearby is the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
When You Go to the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh
Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is located at 620 William Penn Place. You can reach the hotel by phone at 412.471.1170 or online at www.monaco-pittsburgh.com.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.