Tuesday, January 10, 2012
A Truly Disappointing Hotel In The Baltimore Area, The Comfort Inn Towson, MD May Be Avoided.
The Good: Breakfast wasn't bad, Not a bad location.
The Bad: Shower height, Cleanliness, Amenities that do not work, Price for value.
The Basics: Another disappointment in the Choice Hotels system in the Baltimore, MD area, the Comfort Inn Towson is not clean and run-down with an indifferent staff.
I have, traditionally, had a bear of a time finding decent accommodations when I travel within my preferred chain, Choice Hotels, to the Baltimore, Maryland area. Each year, I deal at two Star Trek conventions down there and as my experiences have gone, I find myself reluctant to stay at the Quality Inn Baltimore West and I know one year, I stayed at a filthy EconoLodge (I've never stayed at one since!). But I don't have a "regular" hotel down there. Instead, I find that some of the places I have enjoyed staying have been closed, torn down or become run down in recent years. There is no place I regularly stay that makes me consider jumping brands more than the Baltimore area.
This is not to say that the Baltimore area does not have some nice hotels. It does (I do conventions in them!). Unfortunately, none of them seem to be in the Choice Hotels system and it pains me to write that as I love this chain!
This is the Comfort Inn in Towson (MD175 in the Choice Hotels numbering system) located at 8801 Loch Raven Blvd. This is a poor location in terms of getting to, despite being right off I-695, one of the major arterials around Baltimore. Coming off I-695 at the Loch Raven Blvd. exit, exit 29B, one needs to go up a hill, do a u-turn and descend to the parking lot only to ascend another hill to find the hotel. This is not the easiest Comfort Inn to get into.
That said, the Comfort Inn Towson is in a good location in relation to Baltimore and its suburbs. For those who want a quieter hotel than in the actual city, this is a nice way to go. There are no real grounds to this Comfort Inn; there is a parking lot for approximately sixty vehicles out front and the hotel is next to a warehouse, but this is clearly a hotel intended just for sleeping in. I gave the Comfort Inn Towson a fair shake in February of 2009 when my annual winter convention was moved to a different hotel; I figured I had nothing to lose by trying a new hotel in the choice system.
Booking online, I was able to get a room with two double beds, nonsmoking for $69.99 a night and this location has 14% taxes on the rooms, so it is worth getting the safe charge and related taxes taken off the bill if you do not use such things.
Arriving at the Comfort Inn Towson, I had a generally good feeling about it. The lobby was clean and check-in was easy, though the staff seemed much more indifferent than some of the hotel workers I have dealt with over the years. The room felt cramped at twenty-seven feet deep by thirteen feet wide with the two double beds. This is not spacious and the presence of the desk and television dresser made it feel more cramped. Opening the window to look out on the concrete parking lot did nothing to help my mood.
The room is equipped with a desk, the two beds, the nightstand and the wash area. The bathroom is a little smaller than I would like, but it's not like I wanted to spend forever in the bathroom anyway. I guess I've been spoiled with large shower areas, this one was not (and as a taller person, this shower was ridiculously low). The room's lamps seemed to have especially dim bulbs and I recall that it was difficult to read by their light at night, which seemed odd to me.
Towson, Maryland, is a pretty decent suburb of Baltimore. That said, the Comfort Inn was pretty dumpy and I actually became quite glad for the low light in the room as it helped take my mind off the perception that most of the hotel was unclean. Outside the lobby, the hotel is not well-maintained. The rugs are stained, especially in the stairwell, doors are broken and dented and the wallpaper in the hallways is peeling in several places. Outside public areas where there were bleach stains on some of the rugs, the hotel was generally dirty and one of the stairwell doors actually had gum on it!
The room was poorly cleaned as well. Laying in bed, I noticed that there were glitter stars on the floor both days, none of which came from me and a vacuum cleaning of the room ought to have taken care of, had housekeeping actually attended to it after the first night. The wallpaper was peeling and dirty in spots, the epitome was in the bathroom where there was a hole in the wall and a splotch on the wallpaper I would have sworn was blood. The room smelled faintly of old nicotine, as if it had been a smoking room at one point before it was made into a nonsmoking room. This hypothesis is supported by the increased nicotine scent after the shower was used and the room was made more humid.
Checking out the bathroom - the first thing I do in a hotel room is flush the toilet - the toilet passed the flush test (which frankly surprised me given how run-down everything appeared) and the tub drained fine as well. The shower in the tub was only five feet from the ground, which made for a very uncomfortable shower for me as a taller person. And given the lack of cleanliness on other surfaces, I was not keen to kneel down in the tub to get my hair properly washed.
All of the linens and bedding were clean and each day they were replaced with equally clean linens and bedding.
The Comfort Inn Towson is pretty light on amenities, though this was made worse by one of the ones I look for not working while I was there. The public internet terminal did not work the entire weekend I was in Towson. The room had a heating/air conditioning unit and rather annoyingly when I returned to my room after a day of working at my convention, I discovered that housekeeping had left the cold air air conditioning on (this in February!). My room had a door to an adjacent room and this was not a selling point for me, but it does seem like the locks worked.
One of the amenities I usually write about is the breakfast. This Comfort Inn has a free deluxe continental breakfast which is pretty much the standard of the chain. Breakfast included bagels, english muffins, prepackaged cinnamon buns, five types of prepackaged cold cereals and about five varieties of packaged oatmeal, and waffles. There were pitchers of orange, cranberry and apple juice, pints of milk, coffee, and tea. The breakfast was adequate, though barely memorable. There was no fresh fruit at this hotel's breakfast.
The breakfast area was generally clean and the staff brought hot cocoa out for me when I requested it. The breakfast area is adjacent to a restaurant that opened in the evenings for business. It was frequently loud with crappy dance music, so I avoided it. It was not a chain.
The room has a television with about fifty channels on it.
The low cleanliness and lack of anything distinctive in the amenities or customer service departments makes the Comfort Inn Towson one of the most disappointing hotels I have experienced in the Choice Hotels chain.
For other Maryland or Choice Hotels options, please visit my reviews of:
Hunt Valley Inn
Quality Inns & Suites Warren - Warren, MI
Comfort Suites Grand Rapids North - Comstock Park, MI
For other travel reviews, please visit my travel index page by clicking here!
© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.