We recently visited the Baltimore Inner Harbor so that our daughter could attend Otakon, one of the largest anime conventions on the east coast. We chose to stay at the Sheraton Inner Harbor as the price for the hotel was slightly lower than other hotels in the area, despite the fact that we had a very bad experience with the Sheraton in Annapolis, which required us to contact the corporate office of the Starwood Hotels chain to resolve.
When we booked the reservation, we contacted Emilio Morales at the Starwood corporate office to inform him that we would give the Sheraton one more chance to show us the service they say we should have received in Annapolis. His initial response was to offer us an additional 1,000 points in our Starwood Preferred Guest account, which was in addition to the 2,000 he had already rewarded us for our problems. We informed him that although the points were nice, we preferred to see service.
A week before we arrived, we received an email offering to upgrade our room for the small fee of $15 per night. We contacted the hotel and informed them we were interested in the upgrade. A few days before our arrival, we once again were contacted with an offer for an upgrade. We contacted the corporate office, reminding them that we were returning despite a horrendous experience in Annapolis, and were checking on the upgrade. We also informed them that one of us had a medical condition that required refrigerated medication, and that we would require a refrigerator in the room.
We received a response that the $15 upgrades were “gone,” but that we could upgrade for $30. We were also told that a refrigerator would be in the room “pending availability.” We immediately responded that, considering the problems we had with Annapolis, we felt an upgrade should cost us nothing. We also stated that the refrigerator was a requirement for us due to our medication issue. Needless to say, we were not looking for a pleasant stay at this Sheraton either.
We arrived on Thursday evening, but found the unloading and loading in front of the hotel to be confusing and, in some ways, dangerous. We went to the front desk and were greeted by Lisa, who was extremely friendly and helpful. We requested four room keys, and she informed us that she could only give us two because they were “running low on keys.” This seemed to be poor planning on the part of the Sheraton as the hotel was booked to capacity. She did end up giving us four keys for the room, however.
To say we were disappointed in the room was an understatement. It was a handicap accessible room, which we did not need. The entrance was fairly large, but there is no way a normal sized wheelchair would fit between the bed and the dresser once you got in the room. There was also not enough room between the two beds to maneuver a wheelchair. The closet was simply an alcove cut into the wall with a closet bar at about 4-feet high. For those who are not handicapped, the closet is extremely inconvenient as dresses and long coats literally lie on the floor because the closet bar is set so low. The beds were comfortable, however. We did not receive any type of upgrade.
Because this was a handicapped accessible room, the bathroom was large, but had no cabinet surrounding the sink, so it was impossible to plug in an electric toothbrush or other bathroom related electronics. There was a wooden table that we moved to the sink to accommodate our bathroom supplies. The shower had a bench built in, a mounted shower head and a removable shower head to accommodate those with disabilities.
We did not have a refrigerator in the room, so we contacted Guest Services. We were informed that they would try to find one and call us back. At 11:30 p.m. they finally called to say they had located one, it was being tested and they would get it to us as soon as possible. We never received the refrigerator the entire time we stayed, and were forced to keep using ice from the ice machine in our cooler to keep our medication from spoiling.
Wireless internet service at this hotel is not free. The charge ranges from $4.95 for four hours to a $12.95 family plan per day. The average room cost for this hotel is $239 per night, so charging for wireless internet seems excessive.
The hotel offers valet parking services for $32 per day. There is a public parking garage across the street that offers parking for $15 per day.
The hotel does not permit guests to use the luggage carts that are available at all hotels, but requires the bell captain’s to load the carts and take them to your room. Although this is a nice service, on the day we were leaving, we waited over an hour for a bell captain to come get our luggage.
We were able to request a late checkout at 1 p.m. on the day we left at no additional charge.
Pool and Fitness Center
There is an outdoor pool with nice tables and lounge chairs for relaxing. You access the pool through the fitness center, which was very well-equipped. You must have a room key to access the pool, even though it is on the Concourse Level of the hotel. This seems unnecessary, and for those who may only be wearing a suit and carrying a towel, difficult.
The lobby restrooms are locked and must be accessed using a room key. There is a bar and restaurant in the lobby, and even the restrooms just outside in the lobby were locked. Because we had a key, we did not ask the bartenders, but I assume that they must give non-guest patrons a key to use the restroom. For those who are checking in who may have driven some distance, this is very inconvenient, as they must wait in line to check in before they can use the restroom.
Although every staff member we met was pleasant and professional, we will never book a reservation at any Starwood Resort in the future. We made a point to inform them they were getting one additional chance to make up for the problems we had in Annapolis, and we did not get the service we felt we deserved. We definitely would not recommend the Sheraton Inner Harbor in Baltimore.