Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stay If You Have To, But I'm Moving On From The Quality Inn West

Quality Inn Baltimore West

The Good: Decent breakfast, Friendly staff, Internet in lobby, Clean linens
The Bad: Sense of insecurity, Not the cleanest place, Location
The Basics: A fair sleeping hotel whose value has steadily declined as rates have risen offers an option in the Baltimore area (though I'm convinced I can find better).

Every year, I go to two wonderful conventions in Hunt Valley, Maryland on business and to see people I've known for years. Hunt Valley was where I did my first or second convention back in the day and I've had a fondness for it ever since. I love going back there and the place has almost always been good to me. Hunt Valley, just north of Baltimore, is a growing area and rooms in the area are not cheap. They aren't cheap nearer to Baltimore, either, but fortunately, the Choice Hotel chain has some options in the area that are less expensive than the convention hotel. That means, I leave the convention every night and head out because I'm not paying $150/night for a standard room at the convention hotel!

This leads me to the near unending search in the area for a decent hotel in the Choice Hotel chain because I am a fairly loyal customer of theirs (I also belong to their loyalty club, so I'm encouraged to stay there and earn points!). For the first few years I did the show, I stayed at a lovely hotel which is now (I kid not) a Target parking lot. Since then, I've been trying to find a good place. Lately, I've ended up at the Quality Inn West.


The Quality Inn West (MD609 in the Choice Hotel numbering system) is a smaller Quality Inn right off Interstate 695 at 6700 Security Blvd., Baltimore, Maryland. It is located on a divided highway near a strip mall and a grocery store and a subpar Chinese restaurant. There are places to eat nearby that involve either the inconvenience of driving around such that you overshoot the hotel coming back and have to make a U-turn or running across a divided highway.

The property is not much to speak of. This is a Quality Inn with more of a motor lodge feel to it, with a parking lot in front of the hotel and . . . come to think of it, in all my years of staying at this hotel, I don't think I've ever seen what's out back. I don't even know if there is an out back! There are multiple levels and while I know they don't all face the highway, I cannot recall what the view is of on the rooms not facing the highway. I do remember, though, that the only entrances into the hotel are on the front side.

Entering the hotel is one of the weird things about it. There is a door that goes to the lobby and there is a separate door, a sliding door that opens when approached, that allows access to the stairway to go up, down or allows access to the main level. At the top of the stairs is a locked door that one must use their hotel key to access. This might sound wonderfully secure, but it has a very creepy feel to it. It has the insinuation of being unsafe, like if the lock wasn't there people would be getting into the hotel or the rooms that the hotel would rather not have there. I do not know the Baltimore area, so I do not know if Security Blvd. is ironically named and is a bad neighborhood, but just having the additional hoops to jump through to get into my hotel room has always made me feel less secure at this hotel.

Room Size

The rooms at the Quality Inn West are remarkably average in size, measuring about twenty-five feet deep by approximately twenty feet wide. I've most often stayed in the rooms with the two double beds, nonsmoking, and the rooms have been adequate for myself and a guest as far as size goes.

These rooms have the two beds, a nightstand in between, a television on a dresser, a desk and a table with chairs. The last time, we had a room that had a microwave and refrigerator and traveling in winter, the rate was a little over $76/night after tax (because who wants to go to Baltimore in the winter?!). The current rates are in the $85 - 100 range for the comparable rooms. It turns out the hotel has king suites which I've never stayed in.


The Quality Inn West always has the feeling like it is being renovated. The first time I stayed at the hotel (years ago), construction was underway on the breakfast area and the weight room and breakfast was basically distributed from a closet. It's gotten much better in that regard. However, the hallways are always dirty. The walls throughout the hotel discourage me from touching them by the coat of grime that always seems to be on them. The place needs the walls scrubbed and/or repainted.

Inside the rooms, I've often found them to be darker than many hotel rooms, so it's hard to get a good bead on how clean they actually are. I will say I've never found anything in the refrigerators, the microwaves have always been clean and the rooms have always passed my first flush test. The bathrooms have always been clean and I've never had any problems with the linens. The bedding has always seemed clean, though I do recall finding the rug not clean in spots before.

The lobby is surprisingly inviting and clean given the rest of the hotel. The lobby has a computer with internet access at a desk with a very comfortable chair. This is convenient for a business traveler like myself. The breakfast area is a spacious area with multiple tables and a wraparound counter for all of the food options. It is always clean and the staff there is quite friendly.


The hotel staff at the Quality Inn West is quite friendly. The desk staff and the help are quite nice and they seem to know the area rather well. Breakfast at the hotel is one of the ones that offers the best selection of any continental breakfast I've encountered at a hotel. They have a make-your-own waffle station, four types of juice, milk, coffee, cocoa, and tea. There are FRESH donuts, muffins, danishes, bagels and bread for toasting. As well, there are two cereal options and hot cereal packets.

The internet in the lobby is nice as not all of us have laptops to bring with us.

The rooms that have the microwave and refrigerator are nice. All of the rooms have televisions, but I seem to recall there was a limited selection of channels (I know when I first stayed here there were something like 25 channels, they might be up to 50 now). There is the usual shampoo and lotion in the bathroom and I've had no problems getting more of either when I need them.

This is not a hotel big on amenities, though it does have a weight room. Truth be told, given how insecure the hotel makes me feel, I tend to get some food, bring it back to my room and stay there until I leave it the next morning for breakfast.


The Quality Inn West is definitely a hotel one stays at when doing other things. It's a decent place to crash for a night and have a real good breakfast at in the morning. There are better places, though and I'm looking to find them.

In all honesty, the Quality Inn West was fine . . . fifty dollars ago. I get that hotel prices continue to rise (this does not help tourism!), but sometimes hotel prices make sense because they are not so much what the market will bear as they are a fair price for the location and services offered. The Quality Inn West offers a great breakfast and when that breakfast is a "free" amenity to a room I'm paying in the $50 - $60 range for, it's a value. As the rates creep closer to (and exceeding for some rooms) the $100 range, that value drops steadily.

The Quality Inn West is a hotel one stays at when doing other things in the area, it's not a hotel experience one stays at and there are things to do here (heck, the "grounds" are a parking lot!) and as such, there's less value for paying more and more for rooms that are basically sleeping rooms. This is a lot like my experience with the North Shore (reviewed here!); I've been there a lot and I've watched the value decline. Despite how frequently I've stayed at this hotel in the past, I'm moving on this summer for my summer convention and I doubt I'll be looking back, though I will miss the breakfast.

For other hotels in the Choice Hotels chain, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Quality Inn & Suites Airport - El Paso, TX
Comfort Suites Downtown - Buffalo, NY
Comfort Suites - Stratford, CT


For other travel reviews, please check out my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing.

© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
Quality Inn Baltimore West

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