Saturday, December 17, 2011
After Many Years Of Visits, I Consider The Hunt Valley Inn A Vastly Overpriced Hotel.
The Good: Good amenities, Decent location, Nice pool
The Bad: Incredibly expensive, Hideous new carpet.
The Basics: Expensive and not as rich in amenities as one might hope for the price, the Hunt Valley Inn is a great convention hotel, as opposed to a lodging hotel.
For the past ten years, I have been a dealer at a pair of Star Trek conventions that occupy the Hunt Valley Inn in, appropriately enough, Hunt Valley, Maryland. As I finish off the last places I've been that are available to review, I was pleased to discover that the Hunt Valley Inn is in the database. And herein lays my dilemma.
The Hunt Valley Inn is luxurious, save their new carpeting, and I am a cheapskate traveler. When it comes to hotels, I do not want to spend all that much on my lodging. At the Hunt Valley Inn, when a group rate for people who have managed to fill the hotel every visit for the last thirty years is over $125 per room, the hotel seems overpriced, especially in a major U.S. city. In the United States, major cities tend to have a lot of hotels, so when they are expensive, they need to be trading on quality because there are so many other options. So, in an area where I am usually able to find lodging in the $60, a room over twice that price seems quite expensive to me.
But for such a nice hotel, you do seem to get what you pay for at the Hunt Valley Inn.
The Hunt Valley Inn is in Hunt Valley, Maryland. This is a suburb of Baltimore, about ten minutes north of Baltimore proper and about forty-five minutes north of Washington, D.C. The address of the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn (Marriott owns the Hunt Valley Inn and reservations may be made through their website, but locals and the hotel itself capitalize on its name and sense of independence, is 245 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21031. The hotel is easily found off Interstate 83 via exit 20A. Exit 20A lets drivers off right on Shawan Rd. and for those traveling South, the exit means a painful set of lane changes as the road is poorly arranged.
Once one manages to get over and get into the parking lot for the Hunt Valley Inn, they discover a pretty large - deceptively large, actually - hotel. The parking lot occupies a huge space to one side of the hotel and the front side of the hotel does not have grounds (whatwith being so close to the road). About two-thirds of the hotel is actually convention space, which I well know. The main floor has an entire wing which is convention space and the entire downstairs, which has a truly grand ballroom that can seat over two thousand people, is convention space as well. As a result, despite the fact that when one gets into the Hunt Valley Inn, they are in a building the size of a small shopping mall, there are very few rooms comparatively. There are only about two hundred rooms spread out over three levels in the opposite wing of the hotel.
Outside the lobby, then, the hotel actually has a very small-hotel feel. But entering the main lobby, one finds themselves in a grand room with beautiful stone floors and a view of the elegant restaurant and bar. On this end of the hotel, everything seems bigger than the hotel ultimately is. But from the lobby, one makes a right turn into the wing of the hotel with the rooms, and the hotel actually seems quite small. In other words, the experience at the Hunt Valley Inn differs dramatically based upon whether or not one is simply staying in the hotel for lodging or attending a function there.
When I finally stayed at the Hunt Valley Inn, which surprised me how many years it took me to stay at it for lodging considering how many years I had been in it, I was unsurprised by how nice the rooms were, though they were a little smaller than I thought they would be at their price. I stayed in one of the least expensive rooms with a king-sized bed (nonsmoking, of course) and was surprised when it measured only thirty-three feet deep by eighteen feet wide. The room actually seemed a little cramped with the table, bed, and dresser with the television on it.
The bathroom was a full bathroom with a toilet, tub and fairly spacious sink area. The room did not have a hot tub, nor refrigerator or freezer. There were only two windows in my room, but there were three lamps and overhead lighting so while the room was initially dark, it was easy enough to lighten up.
Here the Hunt Valley Inn truly earns the exceptional price for the small room. The Hunt Valley Inn is kept perpetually clean. I've never been at the Hunt Valley Inn during the day and been able to count less than thirty members of the cleaning staff at a time. The housekeeping staff is constantly moving about, cleaning public areas and rooms and the lobby always looks and feels as if one has walked into a museum, it is so spotless.
As for my room, the room was clean in the ideal way; the room appeared as if no one had ever been in it before me. The linens and bedding were absolutely spotless, the curtains smelled fresh and clean. If the room had ever been one where smoking was permitted, it did not smell like all like it. Even the windows were clean and clear the entire time I was in the room. This is truly an immaculately clean hotel.
The Hunt Valley Inn includes all of the usual amenities to a hotel for the rooms. As a result, each room comes with soap, shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash. The basic rooms come with no other amenities, though some of the bigger rooms do have such things as microwave ovens and refrigerators. The television has about fifty cable channel options.
But beyond, that, the hotel is surprisingly disappointing for travelers. The pool is very average and the tennis courts never seem to be in use when I am there. But the real disappointment for me is the lack of an included breakfast. The Hunt Valley Inn has an expensive and grand restaurant, but it is pricey. With a decent breakfast costing on the order of fifteen dollars, the Hunt Valley Inn is an expensive place to eat.
There is free coffee in the lobby during weekdays, but this is the closest to a free meal the hotel affords. There is a fast food restaurant and a gift shop for snacks, but for proper meals, within the Hunt Valley Inn there is only the Cinnamon Tree and it is expensive. Most people staying at the Hunt Valley Inn will be better served to walk the two blocks to the shopping center which has wonderful places to eat like Panera Bread, Chipotle Grill and a Caribou Coffee. These are all better options than the expensive hotel restaurant.
Ultimately, the Hunt Valley Inn is an expensive place to stay without getting all that that amount of money ought to afford one. While this is a wonderful place to stay, it is expensive and for the price, I expect more. Even so, for those looking for quality, this is a worthwhile place to stay. Anyone traveling near Baltimore who is willing to pay for it will find this to be a great place to stay.
For other hotels, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Comfort Inn Fairgrounds - Syracuse, NY
Comfort Inn Elryia - Elyria, OH
Super 8 New Castle – New Castle, IN
For other travel reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.