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Baltimore Travel Guide

About Baltimore

It might have a gritty reputation but Baltimore, a vibrantly cosmopolitan city wrapped around a fork of the Chesapeake Bay, isn't as resolutely urban as you might imagine.

Indeed, the centre is home to a series of rather charming art deco skyscrapers, while the city's 1920s boom is referenced in the increasing number of renovated speakeasies to reopen in recent years.

More than anything else, Baltimore is dominated by its vast harbour, which alongside fishing boats and cargo ships, is a port for US Navy ships. Much of the harbour has benefited from gentrification and as a result, high-end restaurants, interesting shops and even a tiny city farm are found here.

The area is also home to the vast National Aquarium and the Harborplace shopping mall, as well as baseball field Oriole Park. The West Side's redevelopment includes the city centre and Lexington Market. Established in 1782, the market still houses around 100 merchants. The once shabby historic districts of Fell's Point, Federal Hill and Harbor East have also been revamped and, like Mount Vernon and Little Italy, are now packed with trendy bars, shops and eateries.

Baltimore is also home to a thriving culinary scene, much of it based on proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and the oyster beds that dot its shores north of the city. As a result, the city's many oyster bars are second to none, while the millions of crabs that live in the chilly waters of the bay have become something of a speciality, whether boiled whole or served up in a delicious Maryland crabcake.

Bountiful nature is a theme that also applies to the surrounding countryside, with red barns and rolling farmland that wouldn't look out of place in Scandinavia. The area is also home to scores of Civil War sites, British outposts, and the poignant Reginald F. Lewis Museum, which retells the dark days of slavery.

Key facts

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Featured Hotels


Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore

There's something of a beaux-arts feel to this hotel, with marble staircases leading up form the grand lobby. The actual building has been around for more than 100 years, but this belies the modernity of the property, which is sleek and chic. Even the entry-level rooms are of a nice size, and the suites are enormous.

Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

This contemporary hotel features soothing earth-toned décor, good conference facilities, a fitness centre and all the in-room services you would expect from the Marriott chain. Seafood dishes are especially good at Watertable restaurant. The hotel is conveniently attached to the attractive Gallery mall and has lovely harbour views.

The Ivy

The luxurious accommodation in this 19th-century Mount Vernon mansion aims to give you the feel of staying in the home of a wealthy friend. Nine characterful rooms and suites are fitted out with cosy four-poster beds and sleek bathrooms. Curl up with a book in the library, tinkle the piano or dine in the upscale Magdalena bistro.

Wilson House Bed & Breakfast

Housed in a grand 19th-century mansion this elegant 10-room bed and breakfast offers cosy accommodation near Penn Station. It was here that William Jennings Bryant made deals that led to Woodrow Wilson taking the presidency in 1912. The home is within easy reach of Mount Vernon's cultural venues and eateries and around 5km (3 miles) from the Inner Harbor.

Lord Baltimore Hotel

A fixture in the city since 1928, this is a classic hotel in the French Renaissance style, the huge lobby chock full of chandeliers, staircases and everything you really want on old-style hotel to be. You're only a few blocks from Inner Harbor, and its 400-plus rooms are mostly a good size.

Sleep Inn & Suites Downtown Inner Harbor

A short stroll from the Inner Harbor this hotel puts you within walking distance of Baltimore's main attractions. Rooms are smart and modern with a choice of two double beds or a king bed. Many also have a pull-out sofa bed. A hot buffet breakfast is included.