When I normally think of convention center hotels, my first thought is of a place for business travelers coming in for a conference or large meeting. What I often do not think about is that these hotels can also be spots for visitors coming in for a weekend to explore the city.
My visit to the Westin Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh did coincide with a conference, but the property helped me redefine my image of a convention center hotel. For those who want to be in the heart of it all and even have a great view to boot, regardless of why you're visiting, the Westin Convention Center should definitely be on your radar.
Modern Rooms in Downtown Pittsburgh
During our stay at the Westin Convention Center, we were given a room upgrade to the VIP suite- one of the biggest rooms on the property (which was incredible for many reasons on its own, most of which I'm going to ignore in this review). But to truly get a taste for the hotel, I was also able to visit several other rooms in the property.
The rooms at the Westin are sleek and modern, with all of the amenities you would expect in a hotel property. My favorite feature was the bed, which was on the firmer side. I don't normally like firm hotel beds, but this one gave me an incredible night's sleep. Throw in the thick, dual-layered curtains and I probably could have slept all day.
For those who value a view, you are sure to get one at this property, especially on the premium upper floors as there is something to see in all directions.
For those wanting city views, it is recommended to request rooms ending in 1-4 and rooms ending in 26-31. If you would like to look out at the Strip District, rooms 5-14 are perfect, too. My room was in the 15-25 batch which faces more of the highways and the iconic Pennsylvanian building (which used to be the Union Station building)- scenes that I personally love to photograph but are not as iconic as some of the other views from the property as shown in the featured photos.
Intersecting Downtown and the Strip District
One of the features I love about the Westin Convention Center is that it is located at the boundary between downtown and the Strip District, meaning both are located within easy walking distance of the hotel- less than one mile in either direction.
For those who love food, the Strip District is home to some of the city's most critically acclaimed restaurants (such as Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, Smallman Galley, and Kaya– three of our favorites) and is a wonderful shopping district full of international grocery stores and other boutique shops.
Downtown is also a bustling place to be, and the hotel is located next to the city's Cultural District that is home to some incredible performing arts venues, many independent galleries, and art installations (check out Cell Phone Disco in nearby Tito Way), as well as acclaimed restaurants like Butcher and the Rye, tako, and many others. But a word of warning here- many of the top restaurants book up weeks in advance, so plan ahead of time!
In any case, the location of the Westin gives visitors easy access to two exciting neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and is well worth considering for the location alone. However, it is worth keeping in mind that parking with in-and-out privileges is $26 per night, and parking without in-and-out access is $22. The hotel does offer a complimentary shuttle on weekdays (only within one mile of the property) and is also located across the street from the Amtrak and Greyhound stations for those who are arriving without a car altogether.
Experience the Large Wellness Program
One of the best in-house perks of the Westin Convention Center is its wellness program, as it is one of the largest at any Westin property in the world. For workout addicts, this means you have a fitness center that rivals most members-only gyms, including a moderately sized pool for those who want to do laps.
The hotel chain also partners with New Balance for the program and offers rental gear for $5 which includes athletic shoes, a fresh pair of socks, and premium clothes to work out in during your stay. As someone who hits the gym only periodically, having this high performance gear was a definite bonus to my workout as a cotton t-shirt just doesn't cut it when sweating.
There are also several organized wellness programs at the property that I didn't get the chance to try out. One that caught my eye the most was a morning run along the nearby North Shore river trail (a personal favorite for walking and biking) led by a wellness expert at the property on select weekdays. If you are a business traveler visiting and want a pre-work run, this one would be worth the early wake-up.
My only regret is that one day at the hotel was not enough time to experience it all, and was a good wake-up for me to realize that I really should join a gym. I forgot how nice well-organized ones are!
Bill's Burger Bar is a Delicious Surprise
Shifting away from the wellness program, we obviously had to check out the on-site dining at Bill's Burger Bar (because there is no better segue from working out than eating a massive burger, right?).
This restaurant is on its way to becoming a national franchise known for its upscale burgers, and was something we never thought of trying outside of a few emphatic reader recommendations we've received in recent months. But let me tell you, our reader recommendations here were on point as the burgers at Bill's are among the best in the city due to the quality of the ingredients and the unique flavor combinations on the menu.
We sampled a special burger during our stay called the Blow burger (named after a conference we were attending) which was topped with beef brisket marinated in Wigle Whiskey (a local favorite) and fresh peaches. The beef was cooked just a bit over the medium that we ordered, which for those who have read any of our burger reviews know this is a miracle in Pittsburgh in its own right, and it was one of the juiciest, most flavorful burgers we've had in recent memory.
Suffice it to say, we're planning on going back to this hotel restaurant to have a larger meal and write a formal review, and we have no shame in admitting that this hotel restaurant is one of the best.
Overall, the Westin Convention Center goes well beyond what you would typically think a convention center property would be. The rooms are modern and comfortable and the location makes this one well worth the consideration whether you are visiting for business, pleasure, or a mix of both!
We'd like to thank our friends at the Westin Convention Center for hosting us during our stay. As always, all opinions are our own. If you would like to book your stay at the Westin, click here.
Looking for more hotels nearby? Check out the Hampton Inn & Suites Strip District, Homewood Suites Downtown Pittsburgh, or the DoubleTree Downtown Pittsburgh! Or for a directory of every hotel we've visited, check out our Pittsburgh hotels database!
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Looking for a Pittsburgh hotel? Check out the following!
- Hampton Inn - Free parking in Downtown
- Embassy Suites - Stellar views in many rooms
- Sheraton Pittsburgh - City view in river view rooms
- Hotel Monaco - Highly rated on TripAdvisor
- Hampton Inn Green Tree - Great value option!
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