Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on July 10, 2023.
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The Kimpton Hotel Monaco in downtown Pittsburgh is often considered to be one of the best value options in the city, but it wasn't until we stayed overnight that we started to understand why that is.
Yes, this one has relatively affordable rooms downtown, but it also backs it up with a high quality stay all around. So after visiting this one for a weekend stay, well, call us fans!
Modern Rooms at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco
Within moments of walking into your room at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, you'll notice the attention to detail. From the artwork on the walls, to the subtle design details on the ornate nightstands, to the bluetooth speakers, and the loaner yoga mat and umbrella in the closet, you really will see that they've thought of it all (and if you forgot something, odds are good the concierge will track that down for you too- the list of items on hand upon request was quite large).
Apart from the design aspect of the room, we thoroughly enjoyed the bed at this hotel which was quite comfortable. Coupled with the blackout curtains which made the room nearly pitch black (a necessity for us), we ended up having a really great night's sleep. Considering this is one of the more affordable downtown hotels, we were pleased our room through and through.
For those who like quieter rooms, we recommend snagging a room whose number ends in 20 or higher. These are located on the William Penn Place side of the hotel which often has less noise than the more bustling Grant Street on the opposing side. During our stay we only heard one truck on the street from our third-floor room, which we found to be quite impressive as far as soundproofing goes.
Admittedly Overpriced On-Site Restaurant and Bars
Apart from the rooms, the Hotel Monaco prides itself on having two fairly well-known spots to grab a drink and a bite to eat. They are The Commoner (located downstairs from the lobby) and the Biergarten (a seasonal rooftop bar with small plates). While we did not eat either of these during our overnight stay, we have tried both a few times over the years and generally think that while both have fairly respectable menus, they are significantly overpriced for what you get.
The Biergarten is one of a few spots to drink on a rooftop in downtown Pittsburgh (on the 9th floor) and offers an impressive view to go along with a fairly robust beer list with a strong German and Belgian representation. The downside here is bottles of these run over $10 each and service/food availability has always been somewhat questionable during each of our visits- the most notable of which was an instance where a good portion of the menu was unavailable despite the bar opening just a few minutes prior.
Likewise, The Commoner actually has a pretty decent restaurant menu with many modern American options available, but some of the options are unbalanced in terms of price ($18 for a burger, anyone?). This is especially evident in their cocktail menu with prices ranging from $14-$20 per cocktail and even fancier options hitting $30 or $45- making this one arguably the most expensive cocktail bar in the city.
Overall, while we do quite enjoy the food and drinks here, it is really hard to justify the price over hitting up other restaurants in downtown Pittsburgh instead. But if you have a corporate credit card and a friendly boss, you can also have a lot of fun at these all the same.
A Few Notable Details to Keep in Mind
Kimpton hotels are known for running secret password promotions for guests who use a special phrase at check-in. While you may need to do a Google search to see if a secret password campaign is running during your visit (and what the word is, as they vary), saying this could get you one of many unique perks including restaurant credit, room credit, an upgrade, a bottle of wine, free parking, or more (based on our research, at least).
We, sadly, did not do this during our visit as we only learned about it after we checked in, but friends of ours did a week prior and got a $10 room credit, so definitely check if this kind of promotion is running before you arrive!
Another great perk of Kimpton hotels is that they are dog friendly. And when we say dog friendly, we really mean it here as they do not charge an extra fee for dogs!
This is a great perk that can save a fair bit of money for those who travel with their pets as other hotels in the area often charge a minimum of $25/night or a set non-refundable cleaning fee to bring your furry friends with you. But keep in mind that nearby Mellon Park is often closed in the winter and only has a small pet relief area near the hotel, so you'll have to go on a bit of a walk to hit a bigger green space depending on when you visit.
Going beyond the room and dining options at the Hotel Monaco, it is also worth noting that this property offers an on-site Wine Hour from 5-6 pm most days which includes wine, beer, and potentially snacks and other surprises as well. So if you are in need of a quick drink before heading out for the evening, a stop at the lobby seating area (go up one flight of stairs from check-in) during this time is a must- it will certainly cut down your bar tab if you continue on drinking at The Commoner or the Biergarten.
From there, we have a few minor complaints about the hotel, and are two that are similar to the hotel's neighbor next door, the Omni William Penn Hotel.
The first here is that wifi is not universally free in the rooms, and for guests who wish to enjoy wifi you need to either register for a Kimpton rewards program or pay. While this is fairly easy to do on the spot, it is still a bit unusual to see at a hotel chain all the same. (After signing up, you get some relatively fast internet complimentary.)
Finally, the hotel's valet parking fee is fairly expensive (with in-and-out privileges) but the Mellon Square parking garage is quite literally a block away and charges much more friendly daily/weekend rates (but without in-and-out privileges). As such, if you are able to be flexible with how often you use a car, you could save a fair bit of cash. My overnight, weekend parking rate in the garage was less than 24 hours and saved over $30.
Overall, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco is one of our favorite downtown hotels. While we will be the first to say that the on-site restaurant and bars are overpriced for what you get, the room amenities, comforts, and pet policy make this one an attractive option all the same.
Looking for more reviews of Pittsburgh hotels? Click the previous link to read about all the ones we've stayed in to date!