Baltimore, United States

Ulysses

Price per night from$119.00

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD119.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Odysseys and oddities

Setting

Sitting pretty in Charm City

Is filmmaker John Waters – king of filth, purveyor of punk obscenity, smell-o-vision agitator – the best inspiration for a hideaway? Well Baltimore stay Hotel Ulysses (sister to Detroit’s the Siren and New Orleans’ Hotel Peter & Paul) can’t help but pay homage to the city’s greatest pride and shame, with suites named after his characters, flamingo motifs and a homey retro look that could act as a film set. But, true to its name, the stay’s straying eye has led to styling from Rajasthani maharajas' palaces and Napoleon’s glamping tent, French-tinged dining and a Studio 54-style bar and club for night fevers. A touch melodramatic, counter-culturally savvy and camp to the core – you’ll want all the dirt on this…

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

Two free drinks at Bloom’s cocktail bar and 10 per cent off in Ash Café and Bar

Facilities

Photos Ulysses facilities

Need to know

Rooms

116, including four suites.

Check–Out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £116.15 ($140), including tax at 17.5 per cent.

More details

Rates don't include breakfast.

Also

There are elevators to all floors and most suites are large enough to comfortably fit a wheelchair. Avoid the on-the-small-side Classic, Queen and King.

Please note

The Ash NYC hotel group have also purchased the building next door, so in just under a year there’ll be a second restaurant, VIP lounge and meeting space.

At the hotel

Laundry service (same-day from Monday to Friday, if dropped off before 8am), free WiFi. In rooms: TV, American Medicinal Arts bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Rooms and suites are a fantastical mix of Provençal bed and breakfast, Indian palaces, punk dives and your eccentric grandma’s spare bedroom. Expect canopied beds with flamingo motifs, folky hand-embroidered floral sheets, leopard-print carpets, hand-beaded lampshades, Mirrors shaped like Etruscan vases, polished burl walls, checkerboard bathroom tiles and a whole host of curios and thrifted artworks. The Classic, Queen and King rooms are on the smaller side, so opt for one of the suites, which have a clawfoot bath tub to luxuriate in after late nights. Just choose a colour: Il Gattopardo comes in pinks and plums, Our Lady of Flowers in jade and vermillion, the Tomorrow Suite in citrus hues, and the Dasher Suite in bold blues.

Packing tips

If you’re going to bring it, bring it, with a suitcase full of make-up, another with wigs, all the sparkle and heels as high as you can bear. And pocket an egg for the road in homage to Edith Massey.

Also

Rumour abounds that Domino Sugars (not a drag queen, but an actual B’more sugar company) once operated out of the penthouse, and that the walls still taste like candy – but, we’d strongly advise you not to lick them.

Pet‐friendly

Pets can stay for free in all rooms. See more pet-friendly hotels in Baltimore.

Children

Baby cots can be added on request and children can stay, but much like watching one of John Waters’ filthier films, you’d probably rather they didn’t.

Food and Drink

Photos Ulysses food and drink

Top Table

On the dancefloor, cocktail aloft.

Dress Code

Glam as a glitterball or tremendously trashy.

Hotel restaurant

All-day diner Ash Café has polished-burl walls and vintage French parquet flooring, plus Maison Drucker chairs and tabletops. It’s part highbrow newsagent (with a selection of luxury, cultural and indie reads), part pasticceria and part Gallic bistro, serving all manner of pastries, pains and biscotti; hearty American breakfasts; sandos; and light mains along the likes of chicken paillard, salad Niçoise, lasagna and gelato to finish. You can also take your aperitivo here.

Hotel bar

Named for the ‘hero’ of James Joyce’s Ulysses – Leopold Bloom – Bloom’s bar… although the goings-on in this Seventies disco-themed bar bear little resemblance to the book. A swirling space in dark purples with mirror-lined walls, it’s prepped to resurrect the naughty shenanigans of back-in-the-day Bawlmer, fuelled by generously measured retro drinks.

Last orders

Breakfast is from 8am, lunch from 11am and dinner from 4pm onwards.

Location

Photos Ulysses location
Address
Ulysses
2 East Read Street
Baltimore
21202
United States

Hotel Ulysses sits in the former Latrobe Apartment Building (once a block for ‘bachelors’) at the northeast corner of Charles and Read streets – a couple of blocks away from the George Washington Monument.

Planes

Baltimore/Washington International is the closest airport, a 20-minute drive away, which has direct connections across the US and to a handful of destinations further afield. The hotel doesn’t have a transfer service, but there are plentiful cabs and Ubers milling about.

Trains

Penn Station is just a 15-minute walk away; Amtrak routes arrive here direct from Washington and New York and other destinations in the north east. For zipping about the city on the Metrosubway, the State Centre stop is about a 10-minute walk away.

Automobiles

Baltimore doesn’t have the best reputation for driving – especially during commute hours – but it's generally safe and unproblematic, giving you freedom to roam. The hotel’s valet parking is available for US$47 a night, and there’s charged street parking outside.

Worth getting out of bed for

Mount Vernon was once considered the gay-bourhood of Baltimore, largely due to its countercultural past, but nowadays it’s let the ‘counter’ slip a bit and you’ll be more likely to see the Baltimore symphony play than hunt down an illicit party of an evening. But, that doesn’t mean it’s a bore – for the curious there are adventures to be had. First, climb the 227 steps of the Washington Monument, just a few blocks from the hotel to get a bird’s eye view of the ‘hood. Once a month Baltimore Heritage hold a tour to learn about its history, and on the first Thursday of each December it’s illuminated like a partisan Christmas tree with festivities including a market and live musicians. Then, tour the Grecian, Egyptian, Ancient American, and Eastern artefacts of the Walters Art Museum, keeping an eye on its calendar for more modern seasonal shows and drop-in art-making classes. And, those lit-lovers who agree with John Waters’ adage: ‘don’t sleep with someone who doesn’t read’ are in for a treat (and possibly romance…), with two major libraries close by. You may recognise the George Peabody Library from many ‘most beautiful libraries’ listicles, because it’s a queen of the form with five tiers of white cast-iron balconies, propped up by Grecian-style columns forming a cathedral-like space which holds more than 300,000 books. The Enoch Pratt Free Library is also a beaut, with lots of marble and some ornate ceilings, but it’s beloved for its interactiveness, hosting workshops and talks on art, digital savviness, history and more, and events such as #popshop, where telescopes are handed out for sky-watching sessions. Then get your ‘queen’s gambit’ on – and get to know the locals, who can be a very interesting bunch – playing open-air chess at Mount Vernon Place Conservancy, where in summer, there’s a series of yoga and painting classes, movie screenings and walking tours. Rounding up the area’s cultural mores are the Baltimore Center Stage theater, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. But there’s more to see in B’More: Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner in the Inner Harbor; the Avenue in Hampden, a former Waters’ filming spot, now hipster hang out which holds beehive-celebrating Honfest festival annually in June; and the American Visionary Art Museum, which goes as big, wacky and fun as you could ask outsider art to go, with a 14-foot-tall pink poodle as its mascot. To finish – recite The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe’s gravesite.

Local restaurants

Baltimore is most famous for its blue crabs, which usually come steamed or in a crab cake (or tossed with macaroni cheese) – and the local good-shouts are LP Steamers for a claw-crackin’ good time, or the Corner Bistro & Wine Bar for a crab-cake dinner or sliders. But once you’ve eaten your fill of crustacea and followed it up with a snowball (crushed ice and flavoured syrup). You’ll want to mix things up, and Magdalena bistro is the best place to do that, with its wild swings on flavour: koji-marinated kurobuta pork with grilled peaches and alliums, and mustard greens with ancho fig jus, for example. And just around the corner from the hotel is Afghani eatery the Helmand, where sweet and spice play very nicely together in dishes such as koufta challow (lamb meatballs with grapes, paprika and turmeric in a peppery tomato sauce) or kaddo borwani (pumpkin browned in sugar and served in a garlicky yoghurt). Comptoir du Vin feels like an authentic French lunching spot, with its cosy dimensions, bentwood chairs and chalkboard menus, although the menu’s more of a Gallic dalliance, serving steak tartare with devilled eggs, octopus in Italian salmoriglio, and Eton mess for dessert – but rosbif-pleasing aside, it’s all délicieux. Alma Cocina Latina doesn’t just go south of the border, but crosses a few more, with its Latin gyoza (plantain, bacon, and cheese in a ginger-tamarind soy glaze) and five-spiced duck magret. And, for romantic harborside views, and a chef who’s won nine James Beard awards, book at Charleston; the trick here is comfort food but with a few fancy accents – lobster and mascarpone agnolotti with cognac cream, shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, wild rockfish with hickory-smoked bacon steeped in red wine and rosemary.

Local cafés

In Mount Vernon, Fishnet seems to have got the memo about the area’s insalubrious past, certainly name-wise anyways. In practice it’s a bit more literal; this casual joint serves up fried-fish sandwiches with imaginative fixin’s. Their signature is the ‘real MVP’ with wild hake in a spicy cornmeal batter, cheddar, lemon-dill mayo and hot sauce squidged into a brioche bun. And brunches at the Food Market have topped visitors’ tick-lists thanks to lauded chef Chad Gauss. Fuel up with tempura-battered French toast dipped in fondue, obscenely long mozzarella sticks, health bar pancakes and salt-and-pepper tuna with avocado tzatziki. 

Local bars

For cocktails seek out WC Harlan – it’s a speakeasy that looks pretty nondescript from the outside, but once you’re in it has an alluring blend of faded Twenties glamour and well-mixed cocktails, such as the Canopy Fizz with Rinomato Americano Bianco, egg white, lavender bitters and orange and lemon juice; or a Tropic of Cancer with rye whiskey, peppermint, raw honey and nutmeg. National Bohemian lager (or Natty Boh as its known in Bawlmer) is what you’ll see locals crack open at Orioles games, but if you want to experience a wider range of local brews and ciders, take a stool at Pratt Street Ale House, tempering pints with crab pretzels.

Reviews

Photos Ulysses reviews

Anonymous review

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 divine hotel in downtown Baltimore and unpacked their Edgar Allen Poe paperback and tin of butter-crunch cookies from Black-owned bakery Aunt Kellys, a full account of their high- and low-brow break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Hotel Ulysses…

We’ve all got a past, and Hotel Ulysses is no exception – the former Latrobe House (home to the family of a Baltimore mayor) was rebuilt in Italian Renaissance style as an apartment complex for bachelors (wink wink), and then in the 1970s, as bankruptcy and political scandal rocked Baltimore, it closed its doors and became a flophouse for artists, junkies, drag queens and other wayward sorts. Luckily this coincided with the rise of the Dreamlanders: filmmaker John Waters’ crew of creative miscreants who brought all this debauchery to wider cultural relevance through works like Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. Thus giving the glitter-dusted chaos the cachet to become inspiration for one of Maryland’s coolest stays. You’ll notice flamingo motifs, suites named after his characters (and favourite Jean Genet novel), and canopied beds with folky hand-embroidered sheets you could well imagine Divine melodramatically making in the guise of a beleaguered housefrau. But, like the protagonist of its novelistic name, it’s travelled far too, taking inspiration from maharajah’s palaces, Napoleon’s glamping tent and Etruscan silhouettes. Paintings and squares of French parquet have been gathered from all over Europe, too, and dining has a Gallic flavour. But, lest you think its gone as highbrow as its Mount Vernon neighbourhood (once the city’s de facto gay hangout), Bloom’s brings some disco-tastic raunch and strong, danger-ahead cocktails to proceedings. Surreal, suggestive, sublime: stays here are going to be a trip.

Price per night from $119.00

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