About This Listing
Warm, welcoming and unique. In the heart of Philly's vibrant, enterprising, leafy, engaged Mt. Airy neighborhood. A design magazine called us "Funky charming". The 2,000 sq ft home formerly belonged to an art professor, then a design professional
Enter the home in a foyer with the Mission sideboard at left, and then up the stairs to a gracious landing.
Spacious designer home-comfy, too! Headed to the Flower Show? Park free here or take local train 20 minutes to the Convention Center -- it stops IN the bldg with the convention center!
This comfy home was two buildings, a century ago--one an apothecary. After WW2, the bldgs were combined and interior elements from a Wanamaker mansion were reclaimed for the upstairs here (now this complete home). Downstairs became a bakery and an ice cream parlor in the 50s... Fast forward to what downstairs is now a pleasing mixed-use space for dance/yoga, pop up shops, plus occasional music classes for kids & adults, theater and concerts.
Upstairs is the bnb, a complete home -- and 2,000 sq ft (!)--plus the 2nd floor furnished terrace (so large that it can accommodate a party of 30 folks)
You can walk to the local train--four short blocks--or park your car free there. That train goes directly to Center City--Convention Center, Chinatown, Historic District, Reading Terminal, main station. Also convenient to Penn, Drexel, Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Arcadia, Phila. U and Chestnut Hill colleges.
FEATURES: A design magazine called this home "funky charming". Period floors from virgin forest, skylights, faux finishes, working carved marble fireplace... Great bones! Several pieces of furniture were made by the former owner, an art professor. Second fl. terrace overlooks a large private garden w/ small pond.
SPACE: Large sunken living room with piano, working fireplace. Gracious dining room seats 10 under carved alabaster chandelier. Two bedrooms + one study with day bed. Two bathrms.
Downstairs is a play/exercise studio (used also for occasional small dance/music classes --separate entrance for the community). You can practice yoga downstairs...
High ceilings - Deep windows. Up to five people (or 6, if your group includes two couples) easily accommodated. Kids are welcome. Plenty of toys, and studio downstairs for playtime.
ENJOY! We're by a popular cafe that roasts its own coffee, with on-site bakery (featured in Oprah's magazine) -- breakfast starts at 7 am. An organic-y grocery is steps away as is a top indie bkstore, architectural salvage emporium; a shop with gently-used, quality baby/kid wares...community acupuncture center; yoga, dance, meditation studios--tai chi and capoeira too. And even though we are in Philly proper, we're three blocks to the woods and Philly's first bird sanctuary.
The neighborhood is getting known for 'pop up shops'. Little kids enjoy a little playground -- and several music and dance classes they can drop in on. Best kids' bookstore in the region, too.
No fee for pac n play or stroller--Ask ahead about free bicycles for adults and various vehicles for little kids......
We're a short hop to Valley Green, famous entry to Fairmount Park--people come from NJ to hike and bike here. Walkable to churches & synagogues, Commodore Barry Club (Irish Center) and to public transpo. About 1.5 miles to ice skating rink, public golf course--2.5 miles to Manayunk and Chestnut Hill gallery districts.
BEDROOMS, 4 beds altogether
#1: Trundle beds (twin-size--one tucks beneath the other, when not in use), Private interior bathrm has skylight.
#2: Queen bed, windows on 3 sides, one overlooking private garden. Spacious with seating area.
#3: The Study has windows on two sides, overlooking trees. it's not a conventional bedroom. Full bed.
BATHROOMS: There are two--one with a marble shower stall and skylight; the other with a tub/ shower and Spanish tiles.
We're in the city--yet right by one of gateways to Fairmount Park, the largest city park in the country... meadows, rivers, wilderness, covered bridges, horse stables, miles and miles of paths. The history walks are rich. But we digress.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Great, diverse architecture; locally owned enterprises. Award-winning gardens (we'll show you a peek). Philly's first bird sanctuary. Ask us how Mt Airy came to be so well known in city planning circles... Affection for this urban enclave runs high -- One of several reasons this is such a hot area is its strategic location. Another is the natural and architectural beauty. And that it's in the epicenter of a WALKABLE little 'village'.
CONVENIENT to train & bus. By car, 15 min. to downtown. 20 min to Historic Distric and Convention Center. Close to expressways for travel to other towns and East Coast cities. A half dozen colleges & universities are close by. By train, 21 minutes. Ample free parking on the street.
YOU CAN: Make yourself at home! Hang out on the blooming terrace in season. Play the piano and drums. Make use of the wifi, washer-dryer and downstairs yoga-dance-rehearsal studios. Kitchen is yours (dish and cookware included. R.O. water, skylight...). Young kids music classes (Thurs. a.m.) and kids dance (Tues a.m.)
Enjoy the crackling fireplace in winter. or the huge, landscaped, furnished terrace in late Spring, Summer & Fall.
Let us know if you'll want the Pack-n-Play, cradle or stroller, bicycles when not already reserved at our other B&B... (free).
Nearby--rent an electric bicycle, take a Friday night trapeze class at Philadelphia Circus Arts, public golf course, ice skating rink, playground...,
RESTAURANTS: Think: Locally owned, chef-driven -- Avenida, Earth Bread Brewery, Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange, Goat Hollow, and Heirloom, among them. And within 2 or 3 miles, well more than a dozen one-of-a-kind restaurants with proud local (website hidden) magazine just anointed Mica as "One of the 10 Best New Restaurants in the U.S." More affordable restaurants too like Recent guests recommend Valley Green Inn and Iron Hill Brewery (restaurants) too.
CHESTNUT HILL: NY Times Travel section devoted a full page to this cobble-stoned section of Philadelphia ..
MANAYUNK: A riverside restaurant, bar and gallery hotspot with a few nice consignment shops. And we have favorite places in GERMANTOWN too -- Material Culture is one.
Another favorite nearby -- "Kitch-n Collectibles" - real vintage kitchen ware. And did we mention orchid hothouse....?
LOCAL CAR: About 13-15 minutes to downtown (Art Museum district), along lush Lincoln Drive and Boat House Row. 18 min. to Convention Center & historic district.
INTRA- & INTERSTATE CAR: Close to 76 expressway (and just one Left turn). It connects to 95 ...or to 309.
STREET PARKING: ample and free.
TRAIN: 20 min. + $6 to downtown, with stop in historic district, Convention Center, museums, Old City (galleries, shops & cafes), Temple, main train station ("30th Street"). Or brief shuttle to Drexel & Penn. Our local station is a short walk.
AIRPORT: Cab, shuttle, train. 25 min by car. Or ask about other options...we can arrange pickup.
The downstairs studios are available for rent on occasion but free for your private exercise or kids' play.
SOUNDS of MUSIC: You're upstairs from a studio that offers several classes each week that produce sounds...tho not late in the evening. On Sun. 12:30-2 pm and Thurs 6:30 - 8 pm, the samba drumming class downstairs is very loud [tho we think irresistible. All levels welcome (you too!), the teacher provides all instruments. ($15/per student)]. Sun. 10-noon am, a small church group meets downstairs that plays guitar and occasionally, a drum.
STUDIOS. We have two studios downstairs -- for use for yoga, dance, parties, pop up shops, workshops..
AIR: A.C. in both bedrooms & study in late summer. (Turn off please when you'll be away from the home.) TV but not cable.
OUR GUESTS: We are flexible folks--but pharmaceutical adventurers and outliers need not inquire, thanks.
We want you to be comfortable and take full advantage of this great neighborhood and city. Arrival time-of-day tends to be flexible, just let us know what to count on so we use our own time well. Departure times are conventional when we do need to make adjustments for all.
No women's shoes with tapered or hard heels. Floors are unusually soft as they are as aged as they are lovely.
Full kitchen privileges include use of plenty of cook- and servingware -- .
Caveat: The fabulous pumpkin pine FLOORS here are several hundred years old--rare and somewhat fragile--They were harvested from virgin forest...which is no longer available as a resource. So please do not walk on the wood floors in hi or pointed heels of any type nor clogs or hard soled shoes or play any games which would scuff them. Tuck a rug under chair legs or drums if necessary. Ask first if you will have a need to move furniture....
We are conscious of global and local eco concerns -- it's preferred that you help us out by separating recycling from other forms of garbage. And if you give us the organic waste, it will go into the compost heap. During summer, we have air conditioners in the bedrms, den and sometimes living room. Please turn them off when you'll be away from the home.
Parking on the street is usually available, and it's free.
Ask if you'd like suggestions for how to best visit Philly. Our pleasure to make it work for you... and sometimes we're headed where you might want to go, and can happily drop you off.
Some of the classes downstairs may be of interest -- and if you want studio space to practice or rehearse, we likely can make that possible (no charge). Piano? by all means!
Generally avoid moving furniture around, especially if it scratches the floors. But if it is moved, return furniture and toys to their original place before you depart.
Finally, please anticipate a brief walk-thru together when you arrive, and also prior to your departure. COUNT ALL towels, hand-towels and washcloths. Return all furniture and dishes (clean) to where you found them when you arrived. No need to make nor strip beds.
The sight lines are lovely throughout the home. Dining rm table was built by artist Jimmie Leuders.
This is the first experience of bnb for us. Serena and her gorgeous house left us a delightful memory.
I had my wedding last weekend and need a place for my parents and parents-in-law to stay. They traveled to Philly from China and barely speak any English. Serena made us feel very welcome. She tried her best to meet every need that they had, introduced the history of Mt Airy, showed them around the community and even made some tea for them! She is such a nice person, very thoughtful and patient to her tenants. If we have any request, she will take care of it right away.
The house is full of cool stuffs and you will be amazed by the home decorations if you have a chance to live here. Eventually, my fiancé decided to get prepared for the wedding in her house, and took wedding pictures there. It was such a wonderful memory for us. Thank you Serena!
We loved this place! It's "funky charm" may not be for everyone but the six of us from two families who stayed here for a large family weekend gathering were very happy. We were able to comfortably entertain groups of up to 15 over the weekend at the large dining room table, in the spacious living room, and on the beautiful deck. We put the small but well-equipped kitchen to heavy use cooking and baking for the assembled masses, and Serena provided whatever kitchen items that were not already stocked. We took advantage of the proximity of the great food coop across the street several times over four days, and enjoyed the beautiful nearby parks and playgrounds.
Serena was as gracious and helpful a host as we could have wanted. Icing on the cake.
Serena was wonderfully warm and generous--she gave us a ride downtown gratis and was insistent that we let her give us tours of her neighbor's gardens-- and quirky, so it's hard to give an honest review... Here's what I wish I'd known before I booked:
1. The place in general is fun and funky in a slightly down-at-the-heels sort of way. It's a bit musty, there's AC in the bedrooms but not the living area, the couches are frayed and uncomfortable, WiFi is only available in some rooms.
2. The "garden terrace" is no longer anything at all like the photos. It's strewn w/ dozens and dozens of pots, half-dead marigolds....lots of debris, the terrace furniture was covered w/ a thick black scum that took quite sometime to accumulate..Yick!
3. If you plan to have coffee or tea or cook, plan to bring everything you need. The host does not provide coffee, tea, cream and sugar. The kitchen has pots and pans and a stove, but no basic staples and no provision for doing dishes.
This could be a great place for an overnight if you book at a time when you don't need full AC and you don't plan to cook; I wouldn't recommend booking for a multiple night stay.
Tonight, several days after Cindy left, it's uncharacteristically 55 degrees. When Cindy arrived, it was suddenly uncharacteristically hot -- but still, i managed to install 3 of the 4 A.C.s we use for windows. Both bedrooms and the study.
The largest A.C. is for the living room ...it blocks the lovely view somewhat, and reading that the temp would soon drop, drop, i'm glad we've postponed the installation tho sorry about Cindy's discomfort. If she had mentioned it, i would have brought in the handyman to install that too.
COUCHES: The matching set of couches was hand-built by artist Jimmie Leuders. In years when we allowed occasional pets (no longer), someone's cat damaged a swath of fabric at one end. It can't be patched and two couches are a set, so i cover it with a throw.
TERRACE: Yes, we will replace the upholstery on two of the 25 pieces of furniture on the terrace. The photo on AirBNB shows a small corner of the terrace when the wisteria is in bloom. That occurs in early May, folks.
KITCHEN: Too many issues to respond to here -- obviously these are not common complaints if you read guest comments.
We are steps to a fabulously stocked food co-op (open 7 days a week, 8 to 8 pm) and to a cafe that roasts its own coffee, open 7 am. Anyone who reads this is welcome to ask about particulars.
Philadelphia is heaven on earth, and I would never discourage anyone from visiting lush, green Mt Airy. Also, the place is lovely.
That said, my group's experience with Serena was odd. She asked us to pay an additional $15 on top of what was listed online to clean the place. Then when we left, she (apprently) still told one of our party to clean the few dishes they'd used before they left.
If you don't mind this type of hassle, fine. But I think its annoying to get nickle-and-dimed over petty stuff.
Daniel was traveling with three other college students. I wonder if his expectation about leaving dirty dishes was shaped by college dorm life.
When i came by for a brief final walk thru, one of the students called from another room--the kitchen--to ask if she should wash her dishes from breakfast. She recognized that it was a viable question. I replied that usually AirBNB guests do so, thanks.
(On occasion, with other guests who were late to catch a plane or a bit overwhelmed with a baby in tow, I've helped tackle the dishes myself when i arrived.
But basically, yes, AirBNB guests are welcome to use the kitchen freely and clean up afterwards.
As to the $15 -- Daniel asked for a one-night reservation. During our busy season, we tend to have a three-night minimum -- it helps make up for winter doldrums and more specifically amortizes the $30 cleaning fee which doesn't nearly cover real costs for a 2,000 sq ft home + a huge furnished, landscaped terrace.
And as there are exceptions to asking for the three-night minimum or for the surcharge -- but too detailed to mention in the general AirBNB narrative -- this is handled in communication with certain guests prior to a reservation being confirmed.
I'm glad that Daniel found the place lovely, Mt Airy lush and green and Philadelphia so special. Is there a nickel-and-dimer in this story? it isn't me.
Very special and interesting experience! The house is full of interesting stories and the host is very welcoming. Hope to have chance to stay longer next time!
Serena is a most gracious hostess and the space is light filled, fun and spacious. The neighborhood is vibrant and friendly with easy access to parking and public transportation. I highly recommend this airbnb.
Wonderful place amazing stories and great hostess.
This host has 136 reviews for other properties.View Other Reviews
About the Host, Serena
My first serious post-college job was to help design a large, upbeat exhibition about Philadelphia. I lived in LA then, but 20 years later, bought my own propaganda and moved here. What a great city to visit!--and this neighborhood (Mt Airy) is special. My son loved growing up here as well.
I'm pleased to help you figure out how to best enjoy the city...or leave you to your own plans if you prefer. My past includes 20 years in the museum field which overlapped with six years as a travel magazine editor.
So, yes, assume that i enjoy sharing the particulars. Self-employed since I could tote a little red wagon.
Oh, that's me in photo, at right. My mom's friend Shirley, at left. The 3rd photo -- with the braided bread -- is a sister. i included it inadvertently...but it's so hospitable in a Frida Kahlo way, that i've kept it, to say hello and welcome.