Two beds in a hotel against an orange wall
All photos courtesy Yowie

Every Object in Philadelphia’s Yowie Hotel is a Design Lover’s Dream

The Yowie Hotel is the next evolution of designer Shannon Maldonado’s homegrown design brand.

Philadelphia’s famous South Street has a new tenant: the Yowie Hotel. Opened in mid-July, the hotel, an extension of YOWIE, a neighborhood design brand launched by Shannon Maldonado in 2016, features equally colorful, eclectic interiors, a café, and a storefront rooted in the local art scene. Located on the city’s vibrant multiethnic corridor—and one of its most popular tourist destinations—the boutique hotel welcomes travelers and residents alike with its unique, playful design and invisible service model, where guests are welcomed with personalized tech rather than on-site staff.

A storefront with a sign that says Say Hello to the New Yowie

Maldonado “caught the bug of designing boutique hotels” through her work on Rhode Island’s Dye House and The Deacon, formerly Philadelphia’s First African Baptist Church but now a hotel and event space. What began as a casual conversation with developer Everett Abitbol, who first met Maldonado in 2017, blossomed into a plan for brand expansion. The pair, alongside contractor Bill Vessal and Abitbol’s wife, Valerie, purchased two turn-of-the-century townhomes.

A yellow table next to a bay window with a green fringed light hanging above it

“So often in Philly there’s construction,” Maldonado says. “One day you leave for work and when you come back there’s a new building. It was important for me to stay in the neighborhood and build on what we have been doing the last seven years.”

Keeping the 1900s charm of the buildings, which once housed a real estate office before being transformed into the hotel, took more work than meets the eye. “From the outside, it looks the same,” Maldonado says. Construction included a full gut renovation, peeling away 1970s siding and joining the once-separate buildings.

A room with an orange table by a window
A grey couch on a light green rug with an oval coffee table in front of it

When it came to designing the 13 suites, Maldonado wanted guests to feel inspired and transported. Owing to the buildings’ age, there’s a certain romantic flair. Bay windows in four of the suites have become reading nooks with custom tables. In suite 304 there’s a custom tiled piece from local artist Alyssa Piro, and a beaded lottery ticket by Noorann Matties is showcased in suite 206, while a nature scene from Patricia Renee Thomas offers restful imagery in suite 305.

“The biggest compliment we can get is when a guest says they want their home to look like this,” Maldonado says.

A store with a bright yellow desk and design items filling every surface

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