Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore is technically on the borders of Inner Harbor and Harbor East areas of town. Now it was time to walk 12 minutes due east to Fells Point, a newly-gentrified cobbled village that apparently has over 120 pubs and almost the same number, it seems, of charming restaurants and boutiques, and small bed and breakfasts. Its anchor hotel, Sagamore Pendry Baltimore is definitely NOT lifestyle, says its GM, David Hoffman, but whatever he thinks it is undoubtedly the style of life that the gal loves. It is old and new, and oodles of fun. Local entrepreneur Kevin Plank, whose Under Armor headquarters shine prominently across the Patapsco River, paid $3.4 million for the 1914-vintage Recreation Pier (Red Pier) and then invested over $60 million in what is certainly one of the top new-look luxury hotels for today. Looking at the building sideways on, the original brick house is now public areas, and what were two floors of basketball court and other sports are now, with an added storey, two wings of three floors of bedrooms.
The wings form arms for a central courtyard dominated by a Fernando Botero Horse and Bridle sculpture, a 12- foot high, 3,500-lb twin of the one in the lobby of St Regis Hotel & Residences, Kuala Lumpur – that one had its lobby built around it, here the horse was dropped into place by a really heavy crane. At the end of the wings, jutting into the water, is a big deck with inset swimming pool and summer-only bar. Before you go out to this deck you pass the glass-walled, 24/7 Precor gym with, on your right, four old lifebelts, each in a big frame. Go further and on the left, you probably stop at a video art installation by a Zurich-based guy (can one call him an artist?) who appears obsessed by taking videos of lithe girls in swimming pools.
Thanks to designer Patrick Sutton, who apparently lives only a few hundred yards away, everything at this fabulous home is emblematic. White waves set either side of the main entrance stand for the ocean; the entrance itself is a reminder of locals’ fascination with stoop-watching, admiring the world outside. To the lobby walk the really gradual slope, up all of about two feet vertically, and you pass likenesses of local symbols and memorabilia, including blue crabs and a thoroughbred (Kevin Plank owns Sagamore Racing). The two-floor high lobby lounge has a wrought-iron framed mezzanine, for private dining. Off the lounge is a closed door speakeasy, the Cannon Bar, with one of the three cannons unearthed during the property’s rebuilding – the other two are on the rear deck. From the third floor wings’ inner corridors you can look down at the courtyard: last night its trees had thousands of Christmas lights turned on early, plus hundreds of candles, and over 200 wedding guests, mostly in black and all seated on white chairs, waited for the nine bridesmaids, also in black, and finally the bride, in a puff of what looked like white candyfloss, and her small dog, in a white tutu, just visible in the photo on the left.
Patrick Sutton has brought in just enough nautical associations to bedrooms to give a sense of locale; all the newly-built third floor rooms have balconies – see a video below. I loved looking out over the Fells Point surroundings. This is a real happening part of town, with over 120 pubs and other watering-holes within about half a mile. I would, however, recommend staying put, and dining here, if you can get a table (you can even try such local Maryland craft beers as Union Craft Brewing Balt Altbier, Evolution Craft Brewing Lot #3 IPA, Burley Oak Bunker C Porter). The all-day restaurant, Rec Pier Chop House, and the lounge behind are run by the talented Andrew Carmellini, he of The Greenwich food, in New York. I dined with the hotel’s exuberant GM David Hoffman who, after years with Four Seasons and then Montage, is exhilarated by the opening and operation of this slightly-younger new-look luxury hotel. It is full of culture and history, but also of today. Look, at the top of this story, at the changing-colour Two Circles, by Chul Hyun Ahn, and consider that you can borrow, free of charge, a Taylor Koa GS mini guitar while you are staying here. This place is REALLY fun. FIRST, A VIDEO OF PART OF THE TWO-FLOOR LOBBY
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