If you make the trip into Pittsburgh via car, you’ll know your arrival into the city comes as somewhat of a shock. You’re driving through the endless nothingness of rural Pennsylvania, until suddenly, you find yourself in a thriving, industrialized city set on the convergence of three rivers.
When I made my most recent visit to the city, it was experiencing some mild flooding, so getting to the Renaissance Pittsburgh took a few detours, but I made it to the well-situated hotel with little confusion. Though valet parking is available, the self-parking option is located directly across the street, so I decided to save my cash for drinks at the bar later that evening.
Upon walking inside, the striking lobby beckons you to immediately look upward, to the lounge rotunda. The drama is suitable for the building’s past. Constructed in 1906, the Fulton building was designed by a prominent Pittsburgh architect and served as an office building, World War II VA hospital and a nightclub, finally opening as the Renaissance in 2001.
The guestrooms boast the signature Renaissance style — modern and sophisticated, without going over the top like some lifestyle brands tend to do. My king room was spacious, with a high ceiling and large windows looking out over the river and Pittsburgh’s yellow bridges. The decor was fun — interesting light fixtures, a cart-style desk and a collection of locally inspired artwork and black-framed mirrors on the walls. The only thing I found lacking was the plain shower-tub combo in the bathroom, which did not seem to suit the rest of the guestroom experience. I was expecting at least a rain shower if not a stand-alone soaking tub.
For on-site dining, downstairs is Braddock’s Pittsburgh Brasserie, serving elevated hearty entrees, ranging from blackberry duck with a risotto cake to a Berkshire pork duo with a chocolate espresso-cured pork belly and sweet potato hash. The bar is recognized for its bourbon collection. Try a bourbon flight or Braddock’s Smash, made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, berries and bitters.
Possibly the best thing about this hotel, though, is its pristine location. Right across the river from PNC Park, it’s an easy walk to a springtime ball game, but it’s also right on the edge of the city’s best dining district.
In the Steel City, the Renaissance is an easy choice for the right combination of luxury, amenities and location.