Mrs MJonTravel and I just completed a New Year’s Eve stay at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel.  I picked the hotel because of its location within walking distance of our evening festivities.  The room was nice enough, and the location unbeatable, but our short stay seemed plagued from the beginning.

Check in

After parking our car, we entered the lobby area to find a long line awaiting check in.  In fact, I can say with confidence that I’ve never seen that many people in a check in line in any hotel anywhere.  The mere sight of such a line set a bad tone for the stay.  But in the hotel’s defense, they were obviously going to be packed for New Year’s Eve, and within a minute or two, additional staff descended on the front desk, and the line moved quickly enough.  In the end, checking in was only a 10 minute ordeal, but it sure did look ominous at first.

The Room

We experienced our first snag of the evening when neither of the keys would allow us access to the room.  I tried both repeatedly, but had no luck.  So off I went back to the front desk and its enormous line.  Thankfully, a manager was directing traffic by the front desk and I went straight to him.  I asked if it would be possible to get 2 functioning keys without waiting in line again, and he cheerfully obliged.  He even accompanied me back to the room to ensure they worked, and sure enough, the new keys did.

Our assigned room was 10108, a King Room with partial harbor view, and we were quite pleased with it.  The room was equipped with a large and very comfortable bed, flat screen television, and the work area was very well lit, with ample desk space.  Wired and wireless internet access were available.  Too bad I wasn’t doing any work!  🙂  The bathroom was spacious as well.

While getting ready for the evening, the in room hair dryer to decided to stop working.  Not a problem for me obviously, but Mrs MJonTravel on the other hand, needs a  hair dryer.  I called down the front desk and they offered to send one up.  It took a while, but the new hair dryer eventually arrived, and all was well.  The staff member was very apologetic about the delay, and I expect it was related to the hotel being filled to capacity.

One item of note.  In the middle of getting ready, I heard someone outside the door attempting to get in.  I opened the door, and found that another couple had been assigned our room.  Their key card envelope was marked 10108 as well.  They returned to the front desk, and for whatever reason, I decided to check our folio on the in room television.  Of course, it had someone else’s name.  No doubt, the folks who were just trying to enter.  I have no idea why, but I did not bother to call the front desk about this.  This would become a problem later in the evening.  Upon returning from our New Year’s Eve festivities, we again found that our keys would not open the door!  Another trip to the front desk, but at least it was late (or very early in the morning) and there was no line.

I had new keys in hand soon enough, and headed back to the room where MrsMJonTravel was still waiting.  The stupid keys still didn’t work!  By this time, I was good and hacked off.  I mean, it’s New Year’s for crying out loud!  Back to the front desk.  I think I was polite, but I wanted to make it clear that I was not happy.  The clerk called someone over to help investigate what the issue was, and somehow he knew what was up as soon as he heard the room number.  It seems the hotel had blocked the room, because they were not sure who was in the room!  I guess a phone call was too much to ask.  In any event, I got 2 new keys and an escort back to the room to make sure they worked….and this time they did.  Thankfully!

I hope this was a one-off event, but it certainly wasn’t the best first impression.  Note to self: next time someone else tries to get into your room because they’ve been mistakenly assigned to it, call the front desk.

Around the Hotel

The Renaissance is steps from numerous fun activities such as the National Aquarium, and an untold number of restaurants.  You can check out this website for more details.  The Inner Harbor is a very nice area loaded with things to do and see.  Camden Yards and the Baltimore Orioles are within walking distance.  There are a number of other hotels in the vicinity as well, but none as close as the Renaissance.  The hotel itself is directly connected to The Gallery, a very nice mall.  You will not suffer from a lack of things to do or see if you stay here.

Due to the shortness of our stay, I did not have the opportunity to check out the fitness center or utilize the hotel’s business services, so I’m unable to comment on them.

The Bottom Line

I’m going to try not to allow the fact that I had to pay 3 visits to the front desk for room key issues and our room being assigned to someone else color my opinion too much.  Things happen from time to time, but an awful lot of little problems happened during this one night stay.  The location was unbeatable, and each staff member I interacted with was unfailingly polite.  If you want access to restaurants, activities and shopping, you’ll have to look hard to find a better spot to be in downtown Baltimore.  Hopefully, the problems I experienced were one-off things that won’t happen again.  If any readers have experiences with this hotel, feel free to share them in the comments.