I’m going to admit more than a little sheepishly that up until today I’ve unfairly ignored Baltimore. There it sits, an hour from my front door with its harbor and water taxis and museums, and for years now I’ve either turned my back on it and headed for Philadelphia or driven through it on my way to Washington, DC. I’m happy to report that this situation has now been rectified by the lovely people at the Hotel Monaco Baltimore and Kimpton Hotels, who invited me to spend a night there last weekend to see just what the city has to offer (which, as it turns out, is quite a bit). I’d like to point out that before this post has ended, you’re going to have an easy chance to win two nights at a Kimpton Hotel yourself. But first, let’s visit Baltimore, shall we?
My feelings about the city will certainly be forever altered by the friendly staff and low-key elegance of The Hotel Monaco, which is located a quick half-mile from the Inner Harbor attractions like the Maryland Science Center in the former headquarters of the B & O Railroad. The magnificent marble street-level lobby is worthy of any early twentieth-century industry baron. The Beaux Arts steps and ceiling are especially spectacular. I also liked the elevators, although I wish that an arrow still indicated what floor they are on, just like in the movies!
While the décor of the rest of the hotel is chic and modern, there are thoughtful references to the trains in its past. My favorite may have been the transom over the closet door of our room, which showed a photo of train wheels and when illuminated served as one of the coolest nightlights ever.
The Kimpton brand is all about small details that make you feel taken care of and at home. For example, let the hotel know in advance that you’re arriving with kids (or just like animals), and they’ll be happy to provide you with your very own goldfish in your room. If your kids are like mine and, thanks to some wicked allergies, don’t have any pets, discovering a fishbowl in their hotel room was a pretty exciting moment.
We had adjoining king and double rooms, a set-up that would be perfect for a family with three or more kids. Both rooms were spacious, and we all could have comfortably stayed in the double room, although of course the boys were thrilled to have their own space – and their own beds – and quickly made the most of those upholstered headboards. They also liked the kid-size animal print robes and the thermal bags stuffed with crayons and coloring pages that greeted them on arrival and which they promptly made their own. The rooms also sported comfy chairs and ottomans, which were the perfect spot for lounging with the paper.
Another big plus in my book is the Kimpton brand’s eco-friendly policies, which shows in many small details throughout the hotel from the Aveda products in the bathroom to the clearly marked recycling bins to the fact that there are non-paper cups and glasses to use. I would like to suggest that leaving the lights on and the radio playing upon arrival and after turndown are a bit less than environmentally sound and might be dispensed with. (Another minor complaint is the wi-fi charge, although you can avoid these by signing up for the Kimpton InTouch Loyalty Program, which offers other benefits and discounts as well.)
Every evening the Hotel Monaco hosts a wine reception in the more intimate lobby space on the first floor. I loved the distressed glass surrounding the fireplace and the cozy sofas. The boys loved the seasonal hot cider and the Wii. What I thought was especially brilliant was that although the video game is in plain view, the seating has been configured so that it isn’t intrusive at all. Drapes on the windows and wall muffle the sound in the event that things get exciting. I felt completely relaxed sipping wine and watching the kids play seeing that they weren’t bothering anyone else (and the other seats were completely full). If we were interested in quieter pursuits, we could have also played a board game.
You’ll definitely want to connect with Laurelle, the concierge at the Hotel Monaco Baltimore ahead of your stay or as soon you get there if you’re arriving with kids in tow. She’s got a great list of recommendations that you can use to plan your Baltimore outings, and she’s happy to email them to you. Be sure to get her restaurant suggestions too – I did and on our first day we ended up in a great neighborhood lunch spot, eating with loads of locals instead of the hordes of people at the Maryland Science Center’s small café. She can also set you up with another cool family-friendly amenity: The hotel’s bicycles (designed in colors to match the logo). Borrow all four and bike around the Inner Harbor on a nice day.
I’ll be sharing more about our trip to Baltimore and what we did later this week, including the story of our meals at the hotel’s own B&O Brasserie, which gets high marks not only for its food but for its friendly service. But before I do that, I have some other exciting news.
You can win a special Kimpton Hotel giveaway for your family including a two-night stay at any Kimpton Hotel property of your choice to help you experience your own family Kimpton Holiday!
In this I’m so happy to be joined by four other fab family travel bloggers, each of whom spent a night this past weekend at a different Kimpton Hotel with her family. Since we’re all participating in the giveaway, you have up to five chances to win. Here’s how to enter:
Leave a comment on this blog post answering the following question: “At what Kimpton property are you dreaming about staying the weekend?”
Each day from today through Saturday, my fellow family travel writers at Hip Travel Mama, Pit Stops for Kids, Ciao Bambino, and The Vacation Gals will be sharing blog posts on their Kimpton Holiday experiences, so make sure you check their blogs for additional chances to win.
You get one entry for each of the five participating Kimpton Holiday blog posts you leave a comment on (up to five entries, or one per blog).
Entries close on Sunday Dec 11, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. PST. The winner will be announced Monday, Dec 12, 2011
Promotion Rules: The Kimpton Hotel Holiday getaway prize is a gift certificate for two-night stay at any Kimpton Hotel in the Continental US and is valued at $500. Up to five entries per person. No purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. You must be a US resident, 21 or older to participate. Employees, partners, agents, vendors, or immediate family members of Mother of All Trips, Hip Travel Mama, The Vacation Gals, Ciao Bambino, and Pitstops for Kids are not eligible to enter. This is a random drawing, so odds of winning will depend on number of entrants. Rules are governed by the state of Washington. Hip Travel Mama, The Mother of All Trips, and other participating sites reserve the right to cancel, suspend, and or modify a promotion if any problem corrupts the administration, security or proper play of the promotion. In the event of a dispute as to the winner’s identity, entries will be deemed made by the holder of the email account associated with the entry. Entrants agree that Hip Travel Mama, The Mother of All Trips, or any of the other participating sites are not responsible and cannot be held liable for any unauthorized intervention, technical errors, printing errors, mail delays and any other errors in connection with the administration with this program.
And one more disclaimer: Kimpton Hotels paid for our rooms at the Hotel Monaco and also treated us to breakfast at the B&O Brasserie. You can always count on me to tell you when I’ve received something for free – and also to honestly share my opinions.