Staying at The Ivy Hotel in Baltimore is like staying with a very generous, if eccentric, friend. Staff are all too eager to show you its collection of antiques from around the globe, designer Joszi Meskan’s quirky layered rugs, and its beautifully restored fireplaces. There’s a help-yourself bar (so indulge in a nightcap or two), a 19th-century billiards table ready for some friendly competition, free daily afternoon tea and a cocktail hour too. Each room has a four-poster bed and a minibar hidden within an antique armoire. Add a locally-lauded restaurant and it’s even better than staying with that madcap fictional friend.
Get this when you book through us:
An in-room cheese and wine platter, late check-out till 1pm (subject to availability) and 15 per cent off spa treatments
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £583.06 ($811), including tax at 17.5 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of 2% per room per night on check-out.
Rates include à la carte breakfast served in the sunroom, all in-room minibar and downstairs bar drinks, light afternoon tea, cocktails during happy hour, valet parking, transfers by private car within a three-mile radius and two in-room movies a day.
A light afternoon tea, including tasty scones and house-made savoury treats, is served for guests every afternoon in the lounge.
At the hotel
Spa, fitness centre, billiards room, DVDs and board games to borrow, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV and two free in-room movies to stream a day, iPod dock, free minibar goodies and bottled water, tea- and coffee-making facilities, Natura Bissé bath products.
Our favourite rooms
We especially like the dreamy Turret Suites, which look out over the brownstones of Mount Vernon. The split-level Tower Suite is the only guest room in the tower and has private access to the spa, for those planning a seriously soothing getaway.
Natural health and vitality are the areas talented therapists focus on in the bijou spa’s two treatment rooms. All therapies can be customised to target what ails you; choose from aromatherapy treatments, body scrubs, facials and classic massages. There are a few stand-outs – we were certainly intrigued by the back facial – but we'd pick the Ayurvedic facial massage or one of the Naturopathica body rituals, scented like lemon verbena or ume plum.
Bring that work of historical fiction you’ve been meaning to finish and read it by the fireplace with a drink close at hand; pack something snazzy for dinners in Magdalena.
Room Five is the hotel’s dedicated wheelchair-accessible room; it’s located close to the lift on the second floor.
Small (under 25lbs), well-trained dogs are welcome for $50 a night; they must be leashed when in common areas and crated when left alone. Beds and crates can be provided, and dog-walking can be arranged on request. See more pet-friendly hotels in Baltimore.
It may be filled with antiques, but the hotel welcomes children. Baby cots and other swag can be provided on request, as can board books, puzzles, craft supplies and U-rated DVDs. Meals can be adapted to suit young palates, and high chairs are available.
Magdalena is a maze of many rooms; we like dining in the space festooned with Moroccan fezzes. The Wine Cellar is a cosy spot for romantic meals, too.
Dinners are a dressy affair, so keep it sharp with your date-night best.
Soft-lit and cosy, fine-dining restaurant Magdalena is one of Baltimore’s top culinary picks. Chef Mark Levy creates seasonal dishes with a European accent and a lot of local flavour, largely using ingredients from the Chesapeake Bay region's farms and makers. The drinks list stars Baltimorean craft brews, lauded wines and top whiskeys too. Start with the local oysters, and move on to mains; these change seasonally, but past treats have included seared Ocean City scallops and smoked barbecue pork belly with kimchi and caramelised-ginger dressing. Save room for desserts like Valrhona dark chocolate and raspberry delice with vanilla ice-cream and cakes conceived by the Food Network's Amber Croom. Breakfasts involving up to three courses are served in the Garden Room, which looks out onto the inner courtyard.
The unique Mansion Bar works as an honesty bar, but – joyfully – drinks are included in your room rate. Given the option to try your hand at several cocktails, make use of the recipe book provided and shake it till you make it. Downstairs at Magdalena’s, which runs along one wall of the sunny Garden Room, has an impressive selection of wines and whiskies, alongside modern adaptations of classic cocktails. The vaulted and brick-walled Robert Parker Wine Cellar is lined with a boutique selection of more than 500 labels; the Ivy prides itself on the carefully-curated collection of small-batch American vintages.
Magdalena is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm to 9pm. Breakfast is served daily from 7am to 10am, and afternoon tea is poured from 2pm to 4pm.
A full menu, including children’s items, is available in the daytime and evening hours and a limited selection of salads and sandwiches is available overnight. Minibar goodies, including soft drinks, Kombucha, wines, crisps, nuts and candies are included.
The Ivy Hotel is in Baltimore’s historic and cultural Mount Vernon neighbourhood, a quiet residential area close to some of the city’s trendiest eateries.
Baltimore–Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is just under 30 minutes away by car; the hotel can arrange one-way transfers for $70.
Trains roll into nearby Penn Station (a five-minute drive from the Ivy), from New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC.
You can get around Baltimore easily without a car, but if you’re ferrying yourself about town, valet parking is available at the hotel and is included in the room rates, as are transfers by private car within a three-mile radius of the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Treat yourself to a massage or facial in the Ivy Hotel’s Spa, and help yourself to a drink at the lounge bar whenever you feel the least bit parched. Books and games, including chess and billiards, are on hand to keep guests entertained in-house. Just outside the door, local history and culture awaits; head to Maryland Historical Society, where you can find the original lyric sheet of The Star-Spangled Banner, America’s national anthem. The Walters Art Museum and its internationally renowned art collection, and the George Peabody library, which is practically guaranteed to make bibliophiles swoon, are both just around the corner from the Ivy Hotel. For cultured evenings out, check what’s on at the Symphony Hall or Baltimore Center Stage.
Farm-to-table Italian restaurant Sotto Sopra has ‘date night’ written all over it, with its candle-topped tables and monthly opera evenings. A Lombardy-native chef keeps things authentic, from tradizionaleantipasti to dolci and everything in between. Slightly lower-key (but still very tasty) Hersh’s is a local favourite for wood-fired pizzas and handmade pastas. We’d recommend starting with a bottle of wine and the salt cod on housemade focaccia.
Acclaimed brunch spot City Cafe should make your morning to-eat list; start with tempura French toast bites or fried green tomatoes with locally-caught crab, then work your way to bacon and egg flatbread, Nutella pancakes, or Baltimore’s (shellfish-topped) take on eggs benedict. There’s also a thirst-quenching selection of brunch cocktails, juices and coffees. For lunch, make your way to Korean-inspired Dooby’s and feast on spicy gochujang pork ‘ramyun’, mushroom-tofu buns and Korean barbecue cheesesteak sandwiches; they also serve local beers, rich coffees and baked-in-house pastries.
Head to microbrewery The Brewer’s Art for tasting flights and comfort food; sit at the bar, try what’s on tap and order the crab dip and decadent take on macaroni and cheese to keep you going. Unassuming cocktail bar Sugarvale is easy to miss, so look carefully for the entrance, which sits just a few steps below street level. Order a brandy Old Fashioned or ‘smoke and fire’ cocktails mixed with apple brandy and ginger beer, and while away an evening in this subway-tiled speakeasy; light bites, including cheese boards, dumplings and flatbreads are available too.
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 boutique hotel in Maryland and unpacked their box of chocolate-coated cookies from renowned bakery Bergers, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Ivy Hotel in Baltimore…
A redbrick mansion turned boutique stay, the Ivy Hotel in Baltimore looks, from the outside, like it should grace the cover of an enchanting vintage storybook. Inside, the hotel is a showcase of old-world glamour, with a mix of antiques, rich fabrics (including designer Joszi Meskan’s signature layered rugs) and potted plants. Guests are greeted with a glass of champagne and a tour of the mansion; the ideal opportunity to eyeball its myriad treasures: chessboards, restored Tiffany windows, hand-carved globes and fireplaces. Especially lovely is the sunken, ivy-walled inner courtyard; after dusk, it’s strung with twinkling fairylights.
After settling into your turreted digs, peruse the spa menu and wander down to the lounge’s honesty bar for apéritifs before dinner at internationally-influenced bistro Magdalena. Its three-course breakfast will have even the grumpiest risers singing Good Morning Baltimore to Maryland’s capital.