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Inside The Hotel Monaco Baltimore

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 2 N Charles St [map], Baltimore, MD, United States, 21201-3707
August 31, 2009 at 5:13 PM | by | ()

[UPDATE: A hotel rep has emailed us to say that the matter has been resolved and the hotel will not be up for auction. Also, the hotel was never in danger of closing as it is only "a tenant and the dispute was between ownership and a contractor." So go ahead, book your rooms.

When we read last week that the Hotel Monaco Baltimore might be facing an uncertain future, we thought we’d better pop along and see it sharpish. So when we needed to make an unforeseen stop in Baltimore, and the room rates were still holding to the introductory rate of $159, we shacked straight up.

We asked as many staff as we met (sorry for bothering you, bellmen, valets and cleaning ladies) about the lawsuit that could see the hotel up for auction. All of them told us flatly that it wasn’t true – except for the manager, who said he wasn’t at liberty to talk about it. After spending the night there, we’re crossing our fingers it’s not true too.

Room Reaction
When we called to book – just an hour before we arrived – we pointed out that (what was probably) the Hilton down the road was showing on Hotwire for $99, and asked if they could swing us a free upgrade if we paid the extra to stay at the Monaco. We were told that, depending on availability when we checked in, that should be fine.

At check in, we were told that we could upgrade for $25, but when we said we’d been expecting a bump up for free, and with a brief consultation with the night manager, we got it. So for the price of our embarrassment, we snagged a corner room on the 10th floor – definitely worth our cheeks burning in the lobby.

There were three huge windows wrapping round the room (although the view through them wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste – looking at other office blocks about 20 ft away. We found it made for good photos; you might find it depression incarnate).

The decor was very Kimpton – in fact, we think we recognized the gold checked wallpaper from the Allegro in Chicago. An impressive number of power points were lined up along the desk, by the bedside tables and on the walls – no crawling round the furniture or unplugging the lights to charge your phone here. The TV was a big ‘un, and there was an iPod docking station on the bedside table.

The bathroom, meanwhile, had nice embossed wall paper, funky tiles (perhaps the nearest marble gets to animal print) and our beloved L’Occitane toiletries – though unfortunately, only a paltry supply of them.

What We Liked
We’re fans of Kimpton decor and this one did us proud. Being tall, we also liked the fact that, like other hotel Monacos, they have special rooms for tall people, with beds 12 inches longer, and giraffe print bathrobes that are slightly longer in the leg. Unfortunately, despite being tall, we didn’t get offered this at check in, and we didn’t know about it in advance to ask for it. But, having got our upgrade anyway, we probably shouldn’t complain.

Also, the building is worth a stay alone –the old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad HQ is a stunner, and the entrance hall through its unassuming doorway is one of the grandest (and most surprising) we’ve seen.

What We Didn’t Like
Our only real quibble was the bathroom. First, it had a sliding door, which left a gap when it closed, so wasn’t totally private. Second, the door was so sticky (being new, we guess) that however hard we shoved it, we couldn’t shut it fully. This might have been an issue had we had a room buddy.

Also, the toiletry provision was pretty paltry – a tiny shampoo and conditioner, and a bar of soap. We’re pretty sure we got more than that at other Kimptons, and we definitely got slippers, which we didn’t here. Although maybe they’re right to be saving their pennies if they have that court case to fight.

Minor but irritating – the iPod docking station was glued to the bedside table, which meant we sent the glass top flying when we tried to pull it towards us. Next they’ll be nailing down the soap bars.

Oh, and don’t bother with room service breakfast. Soggy, tepid and grossly overpriced.

Public Spaces
Swish isn’t the word. The entrance and lobby are spectacular – the grand marble staircase is a national monument, no less. The living room area looks good but was totally lifeless when we were there.

Bottom Line
If you like Kimpton, you’ll love this. If they only spruced up the bathroom, we’d have been very happy. It’s further from the harbour, but we’re delighted we paid up more than we would have for the Hilton (and going by rackrates, it’s cheaper than the Hilton’s $199 anyway).

Archived Comments:

Baltimore Monaco

Always considered this hotel to be upscale for business and really enjoyed the trips when our company sent us here. We also book with Baltimore Limousine to get to the convention center which works out better than renting cars. Any news on possible closing or change of ownership? Looks like rooms were recently redecorated so hope they stay open at least.


Also, the toiletry provision was pretty paltry - a tiny shampoo and conditioner, and a bar of soap. We're pretty sure we got more than that at other Kimptons, and we definitely got slippers, which we didn't here. Although maybe they're right to be saving their pennies if they have that court case to fight. Jamie from gay cams