Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore Inner Harbor: Railroad History and a Sense of Pride
You know the old adage, location, location, location? Well, the Beaux-Arts-style Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore Inner Harbor, close to the Convention Center and four blocks from the Inner Harbor, has that plus history, history, history.
Housed in the gorgeously restored former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad headquarters and dating to 1906, the hotel’s entrance is a marble masterpiece that will – pardon the cliché – have you at hello. Or at least have you reaching for your phone to take a photo way before you push the elevator button to the second floor, which houses the lobby.
Better yet, take the stairs. The two regal staircases that line both sides of the first floor are full of the Old-World grandeur that was once the hallmark of the railroad industry. There’s even a stunning mural on the ceiling, original Tiffany windows, skylights flecked with green glass and soaring ceilings with sparkling chandeliers.
I’ll place bets this may be among the first hotel staircases you’ve been in that have a historic designation from the National Park Service and the Maryland Historic Trust.
It should be noted, too, that the 13-story building, with two sculptures above the exterior’s entryway representing the Roman god Mercury and another figure holding a torch and locomotive, was designed as a civic monument of progress, incorporating materials that were both lavish and novel, such as marble and concrete. At the time, the headquarters was billed as an adornment to the city, recognized for its technological amenities as well as its majestic beauty.
Once on the second floor, the main lobby, with its flickering dancing fireplace and colorful assortment of furniture, is designed to feel like a living room. It’s warm and inviting and even more enticing later in the day when at 5 p.m. Kimpton’s full hospitality is on display with its famous Happy Hour complete with free wine and snacks. (I always love a free Happy Hour. It’s also a fun way to meet fellow guests.)
As for my room, it was fairly standard with all the necessary amenities and then some including Kimpton’s popular animal print robe and a Gaiam yoga mat (all rooms have access to 24-hour yoga and Pilates TV channel).
The railroad theme extends to the décor with warm golds, vibrant blues, brilliant lacquer red and touches of royal purple and greens, bedside tables that resemble steamer trunks, antique-style mirrors with scalloped edges and drawer knobs with a screen print of the B & O railroad map.
I also enjoyed the hotel’s sense of humor. Upon check-in, you’re given a sheet of details about the fitness center (and boot camp with the GM on Wednesdays), bar hours, complimentary morning coffee, and area restaurants, all signed at the bottom with “Peace, love and crab cakes!” As a Baltimore girl and self-described crab cake snob – I rarely eat them outside of Maryland – I appreciated the sense of pride. Crabmeat is one thing the city is super boastful of. And though I didn’t try one at the restaurant’s B& O American Brasserie – I was in town for a family event – I definitely will next time.
202 guestrooms with weekday rates ranging from $159 to $399; 41 suites ranging from $259 to $1,500; Weekend rates available starting at $149; valet parking available. The Kimpton Hotel Monaco is at 2 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD, 443 -692-6170 or 800-KIMPTON, www.monaco-baltimore.com
Jeanne Muchnick covers Food & Dining for The Journal News/lohud in Westchester County, New York. The former Travel Editor of Woman’s World Magazine, she’s also written for The New York Times, Endless Vacation, FamilyFun, Parents, and Westchester Magazine. She’s also the author of Dinner For Busy Moms and loves food as much as she loves travel. Follow her on Instagram at @jeannemuchnick.