The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore shows that the best way to wake a sleeping giant is with a bang. With the backing of the CEO of sportswear brand Under Armour (who also owns the Sagamore Spirit Rye distillery and in-demand FX Studios), the century-old Recreation Pier building – used for processing immigrants, basketball games and grand balls – has been revived. Beyond its frontispiece of swooping brick arches and neoclassical columns is an Italian eatery staggering in both space and style, steel-girded courtyard with colossal art installations, and even a vast pool deck with take-it-all-in views of the Inner Harbor, all in B’more’s buzziest ‘hood. You might be snoozing soundly in the handsomely dressed bedrooms, but otherwise, this is a stay roaring into life.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability and potentially a fee. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £275.86 ($349), including tax at 17.5 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $35.00 per room per night on check-in.
Rates don’t include breakfast, but guests get free rides locally in the house Cadillac, a welcome cocktail, and e-bike and Taylor guitar hire.
The hotel is fully accessible, with its expansive public spaces, elevators and specially adapted rooms (some with special features for the hearing-impaired, too).
At the hotel
Courtyard, deck, gym, concierge; boutique (selling candles, bedding, robes, bath products and apparel); charged laundry service; and free WiFi. In rooms: TV with Chromecast streaming, Bluetooth speaker, Nespresso machine, kettle and herbal teas, minibar (with house Sagamore Spirit rye and locally made treats), and bespoke bath products from MiN NYC.
Our favourite rooms
We realise Ron Burgundy is San Diego’s legendary anchorman, but we can’t help but think of him when we look at the abundant rich mahogany in the Sagamore Pendry’s rooms and suites. They exude a Brut-scented suavity – or could happily house a naval captain – with black-iron-framed windows and accents of leather, wood and stone, softened up with custom rugs and gaze-catching artwork. The hotel’s courtyard, a moody cathedral of vaulted black girders and concrete, is certainly admirable, but you’re here for those Harbor views. The best are from the higher floors, and if you book the Sagamore or Pendry suites, you’ll have your own bar to entertain at – always a good time.
The Sagamore’s deck on the historic Recreational Pier juts out into the Patapsco, offering blue-on-blue swims in the large infinity pool, marina and skyline views, and sociable spaces for dining and drinking (the waterside eatery is seasonal from Memorial Day till Labor Day). Add a touch more luxury to your lounging by booking one of the five cabanas (for an extra charge), set up like proper lounges with sectional sofas; and – if you’re staying over 4 July – this is the spot for watching the fireworks. Plus, the Domino Sugar factory across the way often wafts over sweet smells.
You could bust out a few strength-training and cardio moves at the hotel’s very sleek 24-hour gym. Or, you could hop in the hotel’s water taxi to be taken to FX Studios, their partnered fitness space, part of the Under Armour group whose CEO financed the Sagamore. A real perk, due to the studio’s usual waitlist (after all, NFL players go through the paces here), this is an all-rounder, with a packed programme of work-outs, including baseball (for those Orioles’ try-outs) and golf training; a nutritionist; physical therapist; salon and spa. And the hotel’s also joined forces with the Art of Balance Wellness Spa just along the street too. Or, if you don’t want to do any walking/boating, the concierge can arrange in-room massages.
Goths-at-heart, pack a few Edgar Allan Poe tomes in honor of the gloomy writer who had his – alleged – last drink nearby in the Horse You Came In On Saloon. Those with some skin to spare should devote it to the Saints and Sinners tattoo parlor close by, and if you’ve brought your four-legged friend, bring something snazzy for it to wear – a lot of the neighbourhood festivals involve a pet-costume contest – that’s B’more baby.
Art is expertly considered here, from the stocky Fernando Botero horse sculpture in the hotel’s courtyard to the paintings of Poe, the Baltimore Ravens’ logo, a crab and other local iconography in the hall leading to the restaurant.
If you want a saga-less stay at the Sagamore, maybe leave kids at home. they can stay – and we have no doubt staff will bend over backwards to accommodate them – but, this glamourpuss is more for grown-ups.
The Sagamore Pendry puts a lot of effort into being green. It runs efficiently enough to be Energy Star compliant, uses motion-sensing CFL and LED lighting, recycles thoroughly, adheres to eco-friendly building guidelines, uses water-efficient fittings in bathrooms, and low- or no-VOC paints throughout. Bath and cleaning products are environmentally friendly too. And, the restoration and conversion of the Recreation Pier and its buildings is truly remarkable to behold.
Sagamore backer – Under Armour apparel CEO Kevin Plank – owns a horse farm, which accounts for the massive equine Fernando Botero sculpture in the courtyard. It makes this a striking spot for sunny-day meals, with a fireplace for cooler days.
Give Charm City the full offensive.
What a space. The 1914 Recreation Pier building that once hosted youth basketball tournaments and ballroom dances – then had a stint playing a police station in Homicide: Life on the Streets – is now one of the city’s most glamorous eateries, the Rec Pier Chop House. Ceilings strung with geometric chandeliers soar, exposed brick walls are hung with giant artworks, an enormous arch frames Thames Street, metalwork ranges from black girders as beefy as some menu choices to intricate moucharabieh-style panels, and velvet banquettes and leather booths are encircled in polished wood. Local designer Patrick Sutton has slam-dunked life back into the old girl. Chef Andrew Carmellini (of Locanda Verde, the Dutch, Little Park…) may be a Manhattanite, but Baltimoreans have happily adopted him for his time-honored Italian cookery. You’ll find them queuing round the block for warm breads layered with sheep’s milk ricotta, garlic and hot honey; Sicilian-style Caesar salad chopped and loaded tableside; linguine tossed with chunks of crab and jalapeño; and hefty steaks. For more casual dining (smash burgers, hot chicken), there’s an eatery that looks like a glammed-up shipping container (probably because it once was one) on the pool deck, which opens seasonally; set at the end of the Rec Pier it’s privy to a panorama of the harbor, marina and Baltimore’s skyline. Breakfasts and brunches also bring the ‘wows’, serving up crab and caramelised-onion omelettes, prosciutto Benedict, panettone French toast with berries soaked in port, and po’boys and parms.
The Rec Pier Chop House extends into an equally glamorous lounge, with flowery metalwork and a long sleek counter with stools to pull up. This isn’t a peanuts-in-a-bowl kinda place – more yellowfin-tuna tartare with lemon zabaglione or fat gulf shrimp with crab Louie salad. To wash them down there are Italian and Californian wines, the pick of Maryland’s craft beers, and decadent cocktails. We like the Biscotti Old Fashioned with Sagamore Spirit rye, biscotti liqueur and chocolate bitters; but the espresso martini would make a paisan proud, and the Improved Old Fashioned goes for the jugular, with slugs of cognac and absinthe. Whiskey bar the Cannon Room is also a booming hit (sorry) – named for three 17th-century cannons found under the Rec Pier. There’s one encased in glass here, and ball-shaped lights hanging over the bar, which is sub-lit to make those amber spirits glow – plus the curved wooden ceilings make you feel like you're inside a barrel, a surprisingly cosy feeling. Sip Sagamore Spirit rye (from the hotel developer’s farm), whisk(e)y flights from around the world, and bourbons; there’s an imaginative alcohol-free cocktail menu too. And, if you're hanging out on the courtyard, invest in some tokens for the Moët & Chandon vending machine.
Breakfast is 7.30am to 10am, Monday to Friday, till 9am on weekends (after which brunch runs till 3pm); lunch is 11am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, and dinner is from 5pm to 10pm, Wednesday to Sunday (on Mondays and Tuesdays it's served in the lounge).
Have an in-room feast from 7am to 10pm, or till 11pm Friday and Saturday.
The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore’s restored 1914 Recreation Pier building is in the historic Fell’s Point neighbourhood, overlooking the Inner Harbor and marina. Once a port and arrival point for immigrants, the area’s now brilliantly buzzy.
The Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport is the closest, around a 30-minute drive away. Contact the concierge to arrange a pick-up.
Penn Station is a 15-minute drive away. It’s on Amtrak’s east coast line, which runs from Maine to Miami, with stops at New York, Philadelphia and Washington along the way.
Baltimore is fairly easy to get around using public transport. But, there’s no need to slum it, because the hotel has partnered with Cadillac, and offers free chauffeured transportation to areas close by; or you can have your own sweet set of wheels with the hotel’s ride-and-drive program. For those with hire cars, there’s street parking and overnight garages within three blocks, and valet parking is US$75 a night, with in-out privileges.
The hotel has its own private dock if you’re planning to sail in along the Patapsco.
Worth getting out of bed for
Bustling has been an apt word to describe Fell’s Point, Baltimore’s most historic neighbourhood, throughout its evolution. It’s been a busy seaport, the second largest point of immigration after Ellis Island, and nowadays – after a bit of a slump – a pumped-up hot-bed of restaurants, bars and things to do, which the Sagamore Pendry, in part, helped to revive. Much old-school charm remains in the surrounds, and you should meander along its Belgian-block streets lined with Victorian row houses. Doors down from the hotel is the 18th-century Robert Long House, the oldest surviving home in the city, and the 19th-century Lloyd Street Synagogue is a fine example of the area’s Greek Revival architecture. Singer Billie Holiday and abolitionist Frederick Douglass also lived around these parts, and this African-American legacy is celebrated at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park museum. The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum (further to the west), pays tribute to the city’s goth-iest icon, and the Baltimore Tattoo Museum might inspire you to pop to the Saints & Sinners parlor close by. From fresh ink, turn to something more painterly at the Walters Art Museum which has more classic pieces in a grand building with one hell of a spiral staircase. And, for the beautifully bonkers side of Baltimore, there’s the American Visionary Art Museum, dedicated to art brut works, outsider and self-taught talents. With robots, vast murals, ornamented cars, kinetic sculptures and darkly themed paintings, it’s dazzling in scope, but we do have a soft spot for the resident 15-foot pink poodle, Fifi. You can kayak, paddleboard and sail on the Inner Harbor and Patapsco River, although the Chessie Dragon paddle boats and mini electric pirate ships might be more fun; and the dedicated-to-conservation National Aquarium is home to hundreds of species, including the gloriously rainbow peacock mantis shrimp. Baseball fans can catch an Orioles game at Camden Yards, and football fans can cheer on the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Should either end badly, wash away your sorrows with a cure-all rye-whiskey tasting at the Sagamore Spirit Distillery (they have canned cocktails to take home too). Belt out a bit of the Star Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry, where the anthem was born (although don’t, it is a rather solemn military fort); spree through quirky shops, such as Ten Thousand Villages, Emporium Collagia and Su Casa; and join in the locals who go all out for the Fell’s Point Fun Festival, the Halloween Crawl, and Olde Tyme Christmas Festival, which usually involve pet fancy-dress and pub hops.
With all due respect to Andrew Carmellini's culinary prowess, Fell’s Point is bursting at the seams with excellent eateries. There’s French frippery afoot at Duck Duck Goose, where onion soup comes with a cheese crown and confit duck; a burger piled high with gruyère, foie gras and blueberry jam; and croque madame soused in a black-truffle mornay. Meals are neon-bathed and set to an EDM, hip hop and R&B soundtrack at BLK Swan, and the food is just as sexy and spirited – try cheesesteak spring rolls, short-rib pizza drizzled with au poivre sauce, or lobster tail glazed with honey butter. Peter’s Inn was a dive bar in a past life, but it’s a reformed character as a farm-to-table eatery with a fine line in fish dishes, such as tuna crudo with blood-orange ponzu, Littleneck clams spiked with ‘nduja, and halibut with lobster ravioli and a spiced crumb, plus the invitation to add foie gras to anything. And, should you be craving Italian while the Rec Pier Chop House is offline, Tagliata makes a fitting stand-in for its squid-ink campanelle tossed with blue crab and sea-urchin cream; brandy-sozzled lobster spaghetti; and steaks wallowing in porcini-and-bone-marrow sauce.
Follow in Edgar Allan Poe’s footsteps, whetting your whistle at the Horse You Came In On Saloon – with perhaps a Maryland Mule of Sagamore rye, ginger beer and lime – but only to a certain point, because shortly after he took his last drink here, he collapsed and mysteriously died. But, if you enjoy getting spookily sauced, it’s a stop on various haunted-pub crawls through Fell’s Point. Otherwise, you’re spoilt for choice for sultry drinkeries, say, wood-lined Penny Black, which serves classic cocktails and Baltimore brews; or brick-lined Rye, whose whiskey menu could merrily fell a horse.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this epically storied stay by Charm City’s Inner Harbor and unpacked their psych, fusion-jazz and folk vinyl from the Sound Garden and bag of cinnamon-bun-flavoured popcorn from EC Pops, a full account of their quirkily cool break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore…
Whether you read the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore’s name as the Native American word for ‘chief’ or as a nod to epic tales of legendary beings – or simply referring to the rye-whiskey distillery and stud farm run by fitness impresario Kevin Plank, who backed the venture – you can’t really go wrong. For one, the Sagamore Spirit bottles in your minibar are much appreciated; and for two, there’s an enormity to the place, fleshed out by its past as the second busiest immigration arrival point after Ellis Island, and as a swirling hub of socialising, with basketball games, balls and more (the ballroom is still grand enough for weddings). Columns and monumental brick arches form the façade; a warehouse-sized restaurant has art tearing up the walls and mod chandeliers aplenty – plus an NYC-implant chef with a towering reputation for Italian comfort food – and an interior courtyard is held in place with black-steel girders, with a centrepiece chonk of a Fernando Botero horse sculpture. Plus, the pool deck out back is expansive and a prime spot for admiring the Inner Harbor marina and city skyline (especially during the 4 July fireworks). With mod-con-packed, suavely suited bedrooms and suites too, this is a place where you can go big, and also be at home.