A business conference recently brought me to the Hilton Baltimore for a few days. Our group had reserved about 85-90% of the hotel’s 757 rooms, and with normal tourism and other business travelers, the hotel was at full occupancy during my stay. That said, the hotel is certainly better than average as far as Baltimore hotels go, but service and facilities do not have the average tourists in mind.
First, I should start by saying that the hotel was excellently designed for the most part. The lobby and common areas are beautiful. The complimentary navy and orange color palate is warm, yet trendy. In five years, people will probably be asking, “What were they thinking?” That said, for the time being, the color scheme is very cool. The rooms are excellently outfitted, with sophisticated, masculine dark woods; draperies and flooring in subdued oranges, beiges and light greens; and bathrooms featuring high-end Kohler fixtures. The views of Camden Yards are unbelievable; we had a better view from our hotel room than friends did that actually went to the game. It’s spectacular.
The hotel caters to business travelers, and that is evident throughout the hotel. A UPS Store is located on the second floor, which features a 24-hour business center, which came in very handy for me. The hotel offers tons of flexible meeting and event spaces, which are among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen (this goes back to the trendy but short-lived color theme point I made earlier...).
So where does the hotel fall apart? Service is a large issue. With any hotel of this size, a staff makes or breaks the guest experience, and at the Hilton Baltimore, much is left to be desired from the service standpoint. Throughout the duration of my stay, there was never more than two bellhops on duty, and there was never more than one at the hotel entrance (in fact, there were usually never any to be found...). The bellhops seemed to “hang out” around the concierge desk in the air-conditioned lobby rather than at their appropriate post. The concierge desk is another story. There were four on duty when all I wanted to know was where the UPS store is. No one was at the desk, so I walked right up, hoping they could point me in the right direction. They were engaged in a conversation, and even after five minutes, didn’t even acknowledge me standing there, directly in front of them. The front desk had 3 employees working, with a line of ten guests at any given time, arranged by velvet ropes that made me think I was waiting for a teller at the bank. I feel bad for the front desk attendants in that they never got a break, but it took an hour to check in...again, going back to the understaffing issue. Our floor had four maids on, which I thought was actually excessive, but somehow our room managed to not get serviced ONCE since we checked in. I walked up to the cart once when we needed towels, where two maids were speaking in Spanish and making rude comment between themselves about me coming up to them. Wanting to make a point, I asked them if I could get some towels in Spanish. They were obviously embarrassed about what they had just said, and then told me that they don’t have any towels. I asked why not, and they said they were being cleaned, and that all they have are “dirty towels,” and they offered me one. Are you kidding me? You’re going to offer a guest at a Hilton a dirty towel? Come on, housekeeping! Get your act together. We encountered this problem on several occasions throughout our stay (not being offered used towels, thank God, but rather not getting towels or getting not enough towels) and it was obvious that they don’t have enough linens for 757 rooms at full occupancy. I ended up walking down to the pool to get a pool towel so I could take a shower and not miss my meeting. (By the way, the pool was a letdown - very long but about 3 feet wide...I felt like I was in NYC and not baltimore).
There were also some design issues in the hotel - there are not enough power outlets in the room, and one out didn’t work at all. There is one outlet on the lamp, but that isn’t enough to charge all your devices as a business traveler. The lampshades are so cheap that they’re battered and won’t bend back out (like seen in the one picture provided by another traveler...) The garbage cans, especially the one in the bathroom, are really cool looking but don’t even fit an empty water bottle...not at all practical. Also, while not a design issue, the hotel charges $13.95 for high-speed internet, even to H-Honors members that aren’t at the top-level status. The business center is $7 per 15 minutes of computer access, and 50 cents per black and white copy (I dread to imagine what color copies cost...) They also wouldn’t let me check out late (despite being an H-Honors member) because they couldn’t offer everyone in our group that option despite that we all traveled separately, had different times to leave, and not everyone was a H-Honors member like I was. I have stayed at many Hiltons, and they’ve never asked me to check out before 2PM, and, in some instances, even 7PM. It felt like a cheap motel where you might pay by the hour, not a four-star Hilton that I was paying over $200 per night to stay at.
As far as restaurants go, there are much better options in Baltimore than those offered on-site. Room service breakfast was not rememberable, and for $30, I got two slices of french toast and three slices of bacon. They add 22% gratuity (15% distributed to server and 7% administrative charge), state and local tax, and a $5.00 delivery fee to every room service order. I hate being told how much to tip, and then the greedy hotel takes a chuck of the server's tip for itself.
On a closing note, the location can’t be beat if you’re going to the Baltimore Convention Center or an Orioles game. If you’re coming for the Inner Harbor, the walk is long (especially on a hot day like we experienced) so you may want to consider other hotels. The Renaissance is a great hotel with probably the BEST location in Baltimore near the Inner Harbor. The Intercontinental Harbor Court (Sonesta Harbor Court after May 31) is a great hotel, but will be even better after Sonesta takes ownership and does its proposed renovations. The Hotel Monaco is also a nice hotel in the downtown area. If budget is no concern, the brand new Four Seasons is the best of Baltimore, which no other Baltimore hotel can compete with.
All in all, the Hilton is an average business hotel, but there are much better options (like those I just named) for tourists.
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- Also Known As:
- Hilton Baltimore Hotel Baltimore
- Hilton Hotel Baltimore
- Baltimore Hilton Hotel