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“Paradise Along the Shore”
Review of Balance Rock Inn

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Balance Rock Inn
Ranked #21 of 41 Hotels in Bar Harbor
Reviewed 14 August 2014 via mobile

Just a short stroll away from bustling Bar Harbor is this hidden gem. The inn is welcoming and luxurious. Most stupendous is the terrace which overlooks the pool, a green lawn and Frenchman's Bay. The lounge chairs are deep and comfortable. The bar is just steps away, and the public path along the ocean is close enough to beckon, but far enough not to interfere with the tranquility of the setting. At night there are scrumptious small plates, a lovely bar and an outdoor fire pit.
While the room was spacious and had a lovely view, it had a peculiar odor that came from the air conditioner filter. When we checked in we alerted the bellman, but it was a day later when we notified the front desk that they sent maintenance. Cleaning the filter helped, but didn't entirely dispel the odor. This inn could be perfection if there was better oversight.

Breakfasts were healthy and delicious.

Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
Thank Westport00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 August 2014

I don’t doubt that the positive reviews are warranted, based on people having a lovely room and no issues. Unfortunately that is not what happened with our stay. I don’t judge a place by a bad experience/s; they happen. I judge by what they do to remedy it – or not - and make you feel as if you’ve gotten some compensation for your inconvenience.

I researched pet-friendly inns and came across the Balance Rock Inn. It sounded idyllic, and as it turns out Bar Harbor in general is a very pet-friendly town. It was more expensive at least by double than what we’d normally pay for an inn, but it’s peak season, I needed a vacation desperately, and I’ve never been to Maine. So we decided to splurge.

While the pet friendly aspect of the inn is wonderful, we were unfortunately caught off guard by our dog being a little freaked out by the experience. She displayed some behavior we didn’t anticipate – she’s a rescue we’ve had for 6 months and maybe the trip from NY was a little ambitious. She barked/snapped at a couple of the gentleman that worked there. To their credit, they were very gracious about it and we had to be very careful to keep her away from people. On the 4th day she calmed down.

Nearly everything I write here had been communicated to one or more staff members, and met with differing levels of “I am sorry”.

The Room

After reading some reviews on TA about how worn and dated the rooms were, I expressed my concern with the reservationist. She assured me those reviews were a couple of years old, there was a new owner, and “a lot of work” had been done to update. After going through several rooms with the reservationist, we landed on Room 208 with an ocean view, which sounded lovely. I didn’t much care about the whirlpool tub as they are rarely well maintained and tend to be very moldy. As is always the case, the pictures of the room online were taken on Day 1. When we arrived I was nearly in tears at the price we were paying vs. what the room was. The first thing I noticed was the VERY strong mildew smell from the bathroom. I have a mold allergy and noticed lots of black mold in the tiles. The room overall is in desperate need of a renovation. The couch fabric is bleached from the sun. The windowsills and window panes look as if they have never been cleaned. There are dried up drips and stains all over on the walls, windowsills, and woodwork. The lack of attention to cleanliness detail in a “luxury” inn is inexcusable, and overall the room just looked dirty, especially with the wall-to-wall carpet.

The Pool and Deck

The pool and deck are in a prime location, overlooking the ocean, but again the “dirty” look of the entire area are a put off for the price you pay. The cushions on the pool lounge chairs are totally moldy and dirty, the deck looks dirty, and there are stains on many of the chair cushions. I have been to inns and resorts – that cost a lot less - where very early in the morning there are staff members hosing down and scrubbing all outdoor surfaces to get ready for the day. This does not happen at BRI.

Our third night there, some of the guests decided to have a pool party, complete with howling, from 1:30 – 2:30 am. Our dog kept barking because she was scared. As there is no one at the front desk to call, and we had to walk by these people to get to the front desk to find alternate means of communication, we were just kept awake with all of the screaming and trying to keep our dog quiet. At about 2:30 am, it seems they went inside, their rooms were above ours, and they proceeded to slam doors and things until 3 am.

The next night we were trying to have a drink on the deck with our dog beside us, and she started chewing on something she picked up on the floor. I pulled something out of her mouth that looked like glass. Sure enough, there was an incredible amount of broken glass all around our chairs and table. She picked up another piece before we realized it and we have no idea if she swallowed any. She has thrown up several times since so were very concerned. If the inn were as on top of keeping things clean and tidy as they should be, how could you miss cleaning up all of that glass? The next day we had her near the pool. She went under the chair next to mine and had something in her mouth she found under it. I pried open her mouth and it was a USED TAMPON. Yes, you read that correctly, a used tampon. Under a chair. By the pool. Wonderful.

The Breakfast Buffet and Food

Lots of people enjoy a buffet. I am not really one of them, and here I will say that is just my personal thing. I didn’t like many of the things that were prepared, but they were very accommodating in making some simple requests such as scrambled or fried eggs. Much of the food on the buffet was lukewarm. In the morning they put tea and coffee out at 7 am. The hot water they put in the urn for tea is run through the coffee machine. That is gross. Anything that gets run through the coffee machine tastes like COFFEE. This is hospitality service 101. Really. And the tea selection is paltry. It’s all in the DETAILS.

Our first night we ordered some appetizers – the crab cakes being one. They were so salty we could not eat them. The couple we were sitting with tried them and said they were nothing like the ones they had the night before. We then got the spring rolls, and they were good. People say the food at BRI is very good, and it may be, but we ate elsewhere for the rest of the trip. Quality control and consistency may be an issue there.

For all of our trouble, not even a drink was offered. Do not expect appeasements at Balance Rock Inn, because they do not occur no matter how much glass your dog picks up on the porch or how much you are paying for the privilege of staying there. And it is for this reason that I cannot endorse BRI.

Again, I don’t doubt there are people who have wonderful experiences with updated, clean rooms, no glass and used tampons by the pool, and fantastic food. I guess for our $500/night we just weren’t destined to be one of them.

Room Tip: Do not stay in 208. For the $$$$ there must be better rooms.
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  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank traveleatshoprelax
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 August 2014

What a wonderful place to escape to. The staff was great, especially Chris! Though Bar Harbor was very busy, once you turned onto the street down to the inn you truly left the crowds and walked into a sanctuary. The breakfasts alone were worth the stay and the verandah/pool was wonderful. Would not have wanted to be anywhere else in Bar Harbor! Was hard to pull away from!!

  • Stayed: August 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank TC-dotd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 August 2014

We just returned from two nights at the Balance Rock Inn. We stayed in Room 306 which was at the center of the hotel. The room was well-decorated with a queen size bed, two chairs, tv and dresser. The room is a little small but what really makes the room is the Captain's Ladder to the roof where you have your own private deck overlooking the grounds, pool, and bay!! Amazing!! The room did have its quirks. For example, every time I used the hair dryer which was provided I blew the fuse for the entire room and had to call maintenance to flip the fuse. That was a bother. The bathroom has a sauna but it was not functional when we were there. Also, the room had an additional a/c window unit which made the room very nice; however the tube kept coming undone and blowing hot air into the room. We were able to fix it ourselves and brought it to the hotel's attention when we left.

Breakfast, which comes sigh the room, was delicious. We ate in the patio or sunroom which provided a nice view. We did not use the pool but it looked lovely.

The location was perfect as you could easily walk into Bar Harbor. I would definitely recommend the hotel but one must recognize it is an old inn with a few quirks.

Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
Thank Emily B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 August 2014

First, let me say that we love old inns, and we liked a lot about the Balance Rock. But a late booking on my part meant that there were no good rooms available except the Penthouse Suite. I would not typically spend over $500 a night for a room, but justified the price of the room as offset by the fact that it had a kitchen and thus my husband (a professional chef) could make a few meals.

We had marvelous weather, and thus could fully appreciate the views, the lovely pool, and the garden. The location is absolutely perfect, as was the ability to enjoy the view from the private (albeit small) porch. Fortunately, that meant we were out of the room most of the time.

In its current condition, however, the room does not warrant the price being charged. It was "used" - to say the least, and "shabby-chic" doesn't really work at this price point (as other reviewers have mentioned).
- no finish left on several of the tables, and half the bed frame suffered some kind of water damage and also had no finish left
-large stains on rug
-soap dish completely cracked with large chips in it
-shades didn't fit lamps properly
-shower with minimal water pressure (had to rinse conditioner out of hair in kitchen sink)
-poorly-stocked kitchen (only two plates, no wine glasses, no collander, lids that didn't fit pots, etc.
-very loud air conditioning
-musty smell (possibly from whatever took the finish off the wood?)

There were also some quality-control issues with breakfast (how do you serve undercooked potatoes?), and we tired of the multiple trips back and forth from the small dining room with the buffet to the lounge or outside deck (where most people wanted to eat). Some items were quite good, and the amount available was certainly adequate. Servers didn't serve - only cleared.

As a courtesy, I wrote the General Manager and enumerated these issues, suggesting that someone should visit the room and see if they didn't agree with my assessment of the condition. Although there was an apology, the response, "that rugs couldn't be cleaned during peak season" and that we "should have given them the chance" to replace items during our stay was not appropriate. For over $500 per night, I don't expect to have the room refurbished when I am in it.

Figure it out. This is a lovely property, but someone needs to impose some standards and quality-control (or lower the price). We would love to return to enjoy the marvelous location and beautiful views, but would definitely ask about when the room was last refurbished (or book a cheaper room and get more of what we might expect).

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
3  Thank doctorkris3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 August 2014 via mobile

I stayed at Balance Rock Inn for only one night, but I can definitively say the inn is extremely underwhelming.

The staff were mostly cold and unwelcoming, the elevator only went to the penultimate floor, the breakfast room had no view and was open at difficult hours, the staff acted surprised and offended when they were asked to pull out a couch, although there was only one bed in the room with three people booked, and the rooms were difficult to traverse and a danger to senior citizens and in the event of an emergency. I observed this as I traveling with my 80-year-old grandfather.

Most concerning was the lack of accommodation for my life-threatening nut allergy. On the one day I was staying, they served nuts in the buffet, even though they were notified a day prior to the incident. Also some, of the glasses were filthy, which is especially concerning for people with severe food allergies.

I would not recommend the experience.

Stayed: August 2014
4  Thank chesskid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Aaron M, Owner at Balance Rock Inn, responded to this reviewResponded 25 September 2014

Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns in regards to your stay with us. I assure you this is not the standards in which we hold our hotel. Our staff works very hard to ensure all of our guests are having a wonderful experience and pleasant stay. I apologize we did not live up to your expectations. We hope to have another chance and we are happy to help find a more suitable accommodation.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 August 2014

The Balance Rock Inn keeps getting better. This year they served dinner for the first time. It makes a difference. With a great chef, an interesting menu of "Small Plates," and two choices of entree there is no reason for tolerating the noise of a downtown restaurant when you can dine in peace and actually talk to your friends.

The Balance Rock Inn is special, Its guests own the view. Its rooms are varied, but each one has a special charm. We've been there four times over the years, and we'll be back.

Diane Leduc and Brian Campbell

Room Tip: Reserve 204 if it's available
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Brian_CW3906RJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Aaron M, Owner at Balance Rock Inn, responded to this reviewResponded 25 September 2014

It's always special having guests return year after year. We're honored to be a second home to those looking to get away. Thank you for recognizing our improvements and hard work. We look forward to you returning next year!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Balance Rock Inn

Address: 21 Albert Mdws, Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island, ME 04609-1701
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Maine > DownEast and Acadia Maine > Mount Desert Island > Bar Harbor
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 On the Beach Hotel in Bar Harbor
Price Range: £155 - £279 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Balance Rock Inn 4.5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Balance Rock Inn is one of the premier oceanfront lodging properties in Bar Harbor, ME. Set on a secluded tree-covered property with expansive views of Frenchman's Bay, this luxurious Inn's name celebrates the "balance rock," a precariously positioned boulder on the nearby ocean shore, a huge remnant from an ice age. Balance Rock's 27 rooms and suites are tastefully outfitted in harmonious colors, handsome wall coverings, handcrafted furnishings, and all the creature comforts. All rooms and suites have either a king or queen size select comfort bed, a private bath, flat screen television with DVD player, WIFI internet access, individually controlled AC and heat, and most with amazing ocean views! The Inn features a full bar and restaurant, sundeck with fire pit, and heated swimming pool...all overlooking the ocean. In addition there is a formal dining room for breakfast and dinner, a small fitness center, and ample parking. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Balance Rock Hotel Bar Harbor
Balance Rock Inn Bar Harbor, Maine

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