When it comes to finding the American spirit, many flock to our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. But we’d argue that there’s never been a better time to visit Baltimore, just 40 miles north -- a city with its fair share of history and culture. New hotels, hot restaurants, and impressive museums are all going a long way to show that “Charm City” was aptly named. Just this July, a monument of President Washington -- the first in the country, dating back to the early 1800s -- reopened after being closed for five years. Other important sites include the largest collection of Matisse paintings in the world, at Baltimore’s Roman Temple-style art museum.
These days, the hotel scene has been red hot, too. And though luxury properties are attracting new crowds to the city, Baltimore remains a very affordable destination to visit. Here, some properties we love, from low to high.Lord Baltimore Hotel
This historic hotel, originally unveiled in 1928, recently reopened in March 2014. But an even newer feature from this September makes it more appealing than ever: a rooftop bar that allows guests to enjoy their cocktails under Chesapeake Bay’s starry mantle. With much historic appeal, the 440 rooms carry a private club vibe and are dressed in dark tones and woods -- and have once hosted luminaries like Martin Luther King Jr. There are lots of details to appreciate throughout: extensive artwork, including several Herbert Hamaks, and a lobby with a catchy Murano glass chandelier. The best part? For all of its splendor, the hotel offers tremendous value with rates from $139 per night.
Hotel Indigo Baltimore
Located in the National Landmark Historic district of Mount Vernon is a new Hotel Indigo. The property, which opened this past May, encourages guests to find their literary side in the lobby library -- Baltimore is the birthplace city of Edgar Allan Poe, after all -- and sleep under a literary-themed mural in one of the 135 guest rooms. For culture buffs, one of the best advantages of staying here is the location. It’s a simple stroll from the hotel over to The Walters Museum, the Peabody Conservatory, and other gems, no wheels required. Rates start from from $224 per night.
Hotel RL opened its doors in Baltimore's downtown district in August. It has a pioneer theme-meets-communal living approach, with an open, pavilion-style lobby with a coffee house atmosphere (and great java by Victrola Coffee Roasters). The onsite restaurant is an important part of bringing together locals and visitors, too. You’ll also find good sense of place in any of the 130 rooms, which feature wrap-around wall art of the city’s Inner Harbor, while the windows give you views of the real thing. Free bike rentals are available for guests. Rates start from $247 per night.
The Ivy Hotel
Baltimore isn’t the first city that comes to mind for luxury, but the historic Ivy Hotel is one of the latest properties to join the upscale Relais & Châteaux group. The property was originally built as a mansion in 1889 and reopened as a boutique hotel this June, and a stay here feels like a visit to your rich aunt’s home. The 18 grand rooms are each outfitted with global finds from master interior designer Joszi Meskan, but even before you check in, there are clear signs of the mansion’s grand history: the conservatory is rich with foliage, the restaurant is studded with art (and helmed by Mark Levy, from the Adirondacks’ five-star The Point), and a music room boasts a grand piano. And while rates start at a spendy $475 per night, you’ll enjoy plenty of perks like car service, breakfast, mini bar, wine and spirits, and even afternoon tea by the fire.