A bi-weekly staff review of East Coast and regional lodgings.
I’ve certainly seen elements of hotel rooms I wanted to bring back to my apartment: towels, sheets — okay, an entire bathroom here and there. But it wasn’t until I stayed at the Inn at the Black Olive in Baltimore that I thought, “I could actually live here.”
Part of it is the fact that I’m in house-hunting mode lately, and part of it is the sheer size of the spaces in this all-suite hotel. Mine was more than 1,000 square feet, which is almost 25 percent larger than my Dupont Circle apartment. I felt a twinge of guilt at taking up the whole thing on my own. Shouldn’t I be inviting friends over for a party?
The guilt continued when the friendly clerk checked me in and showed me around. Here’s the TV with hundreds of channels and free Netflix. Here’s the little fridge with a complimentary bottle of water — and wine on the way.
“We didn’t put it in here because we didn’t know what kind you preferred,” he said. “Red or white?” Um, I’ll take red, I said — and within minutes, an entire bottle of organic cabernet from Chile showed up. Mine for the drinking, at no charge.
The tour continued, much of it aimed at pointing out the place’s enviro-friendly bent: aerated concrete floors, radiant heat from a geothermal system, limestone walls that resist mold, renewable or recovered-wood furniture custom-made with low-VOC glues and paints. I started to glaze over at the fast-paced chatter and came back into focus midway through his spiel about the bed. Organic, ergonomic, blah, blah, blah, blah, but then he added, “Be careful: Don’t lie on it until you’re ready to go to sleep. It’s the most comfortable bed ever.”
That got my attention, so I heeded his warning — and adjusted my evening plans to include an early turn-in.
Before dinner, I wanted to get out and walk around the Fells Point neighborhood, but it was pretty hard to leave the room. With its clean lines and terra cotta, beige and green color scheme, it had a Southwest vibe about it, or perhaps I should make that a southwestern Greece vibe (since the family that owns the inn is Greek). All the art on the walls is by local artists — for sale, of course. A little rowing machine is tucked into one corner. And accessible from both the large bedroom and the living room is a balcony, big enough for a table and a couple of chairs.
The long-range view from that balcony, of downtown Baltimore and the Inner Harbor, is better than the short-range, of the vacant lot surrounded by a chain-link fence across the street. But as the sun set, it was enough to finally pull me outdoors, on a stroll that quickly led to the cobblestone streets, bars, shops and art galleries of Fells Point.
The inn has a well-regarded restaurant, the Black Olive, attached, along with a nifty little food market on the ground floor selling wine, takeout and even some produce. But I had off-site dinner plans, after which I fell into bed. (The sleep-inducing comfort of the CozyPure brand bed, by the way, was no exaggeration. That one has gone on my wish list.) So I didn’t partake of any food until the morning, when I ordered room-service breakfast that might have had the speediest delivery — all of 10 minutes — I’ve ever experienced.
The coffee was strong (and made from locally roasted beans, by Zeke’s), but the standout was the Greek (of course) yogurt, luscious and thick, and there were a whopping two cups of it, topped with decent strawberries and with more fruit — strawberries, pineapple and kiwi — on the side. That’s not all: There were walnuts, toasted and still warm. And unfiltered honey, also warm and pourable. It was simple, elegant, well-thought-out and bounteous, easily enough for two people. It cost all of $9.
Did I mention how cheap the inn was, generally? The Sunday night in late September when I was there, I got a slow-day rate of $199 (although in upcoming weeks the suites start at $239). How much would that be for, say, a month? Way too much, of course. But for a quick trip to Baltimore, it felt like a sheer bargain.
Inn at the Black Olive
803 South Caroline St.
Twelve suites from $229.