Checking into a hotel has been a bit different since March of 2020, so I expected things to be a bit different in my room at the Sagamore Pendry Hotel in Baltimore. Two things reminded me of the good ole days: my name displayed on the TV screen as a welcome and some chocolates to nibble on. Another was a sign of the times though: a Gilchrist & Soames “Be Healthy Kit” with a face mask, G&S hand sanitizer, and some hand wipes.
This balance of pampering and safety in a luxury hotel has been a tough one to straddle for top properties, but the Sagamore Pendry impressed me with its ability to make guests feel special while still keeping them safe as well.
The Pendry brand name is an offshoot of luxury chain Montage, but with a more laid-back and contemporary ethos. The Sagamore part of the name comes from a horse farm owned by the man behind this project: Kevin Plank, the founder of Under Armour. His own Sagamore whiskey from a nearby distiller is featured in the bar. As if all that isn’t enough of a back story start on its own, this building itself has plenty of tales to tell.
The hotel is built on top of a pier dating back to 1914. At that time, this was an immigration dock for people arriving from Europe and elsewhere by ship, the second-busiest immigration port after Ellis Island. Over the years it later served as a market space, an import/export headquarters serving Baltimore’s harbor, a police station, and a recreation pier with a basketball gym. (It also appeared frequently as the police department in one of the best TV cop shows of all time: Homicide, Life on the Street in the mid-1990s.)
When Plank bought the pier the building was empty and the developers did a great job of incorporating the old with the new to create a really special hospitality space. The property is part of the prestigious Preferred Hotels Group.
The entrance is a grand one, the pier facade dressed up to face the busy Thames Street it fronts, with lots of outdoor cafes and restaurants. “Industrial chic” is the main vibe inside, with exposed beams of wood and steel, dramatic lines, and some of the original elements like exposed brick and plank floors. There are nods to Baltimore history throughout the property to provide a real sense of place.
Fun and Food at Sagamore Pendry Hotel
The back part of the pier closest to the water how houses a large swimming pool. In the months of mid-May to early October, the swimming pool deck is more than a place to lounge and catch some rays. It already provides an interesting every-changing view with the ships in the harbor, but there’s a permanent bar here as well as various pop-up bars serving martinis, rosé or other specialties. There are resort-style cabanas for rent here with dedicated servers taking care of the occupants.
Other drinking options include the glass-enclosed courtyard area, where there’s also a champagne vending machine—can’t say we’ve seen that before! In the spirit of a speakeasy, the Cannon Room bar is in a hidden corner off the lobby and it’s a cozy space with a gas fireplace. It’s named after the three cannons that used to lie underwater nearby, dredged up during construction. One of them is displayed under glass in the floor. The light fixtures over the bar are shaped like cannonballs as well.
There’s also a bar in the main restaurant or you can sit in the beautiful lounge and order a drink. It sits between the restaurant and the courtyard and is filled with art work, flowers, and polished natural wood sculptures.
You can also charter a boat or take the public ferry over to the Sagamore Spirit Distillery under the same ownership. There’s a 30-minute educational tour and distillery.
The Rec Pier Chop House Restaurant is in a gorgeous space fronting Thames Street, with a wall of glass on that end and then lots of brick, wood, copper and banquettes looking the other direction. It’s the kind of place you take a special someone to wow them or plan a company dinner to celebrate closing a big deal.
It’s primarily a steakhouse, but with this being the land of crabs near the ocean, there’s some great seafood too. Or you can do like I did and mix it up with an excellent linguine pasta with fresh crab and then have some beef as well, going to bed close to comatose.
Every bite I tasted at the Rec Pier Chop House was delicious, including the focaccia bread and olive oil that came out immediately and the two local Baltimore ales I chose to accompany everything–from six available on draft. There’s a good wine list as well. Unlike a lot of restaurants in former industrial spaces, this one was designed with high ceilings and enough curtains and cushions to absorb the conversational noise, so you can have an intimate conversation without shouting in each other’s ears, especially in the alcoves built for couples.
Rooms and Suites at Baltimore’s Sagamore Pendry
The regular rooms at Baltimore’s Pendry hotel are all roughly the same size, from 340 to 375 square feet, with the main differences being the bed configurations, the view, and whether there’s a balcony. Those facing inward look at the courtyard gardens, which are certainly attractive enough and well-lighted with the glass enclosure above, but the harbor view ones really make you feel like you’re in Baltimore. They look out at a mix of industrial buildings, passing ships, and new condos. Some of the prime suites look over the swimming pool as well.
The courtyard ones on the ground floor are actually the nicest ones facing inward since they have their own furnished patio area.
Mine didn’t have a desk, which meant going to a public area to meet my Zoom call obligations. Those without a balcony do have a desk, so book one of those if you have a lot of work to do. They do all have some kind of seating though, with a sofa or armchair.
There’s a subtle nautical theme to the rooms and quality materials throughout. Wood and metal dressers are topped with marble, as are the end tables, I especially liked the hefty bronze-encased mirrors, interesting lighting fixtures, and the geometric travertine tiles in the bathrooms. The baths have big showers and are equipped with quality MinNYC refillable toiletries, mostly refillable.
A few first-floor suites are 1,200 square feet and can used as living/sleeping quarters or be configured for use as a hospitality suite. Other suites are on the corners and have a view from their terraces, with interiors that look like this:
Other Amenities and Service
There’s a small gym on site with the usual equipment at this Pendry hotel, which kind of surprised me since there’s the connection with Under Armour, but guests are free to take the water taxi (or a private charter from the hotel’s dock) seven minutes over to Under Armour’s company gym, which is the kind of huge place professional athletes work out in, equipped with everything you would want or need.
There are a couple of board rooms for meetings, some regular meeting rooms, and a grand ballroom that used to be a (very fancy) gymnasium when this was a recreational pier. It’s a popular place for weddings, especially since the bride can take photos on the grand staircase you see at the bottom of this post.
Staffers are friendly and professional here, maintaining a good balance between personal service and keeping a distance in these conflicted times. The managers are clearly experienced in making sure the high-end guests frequenting this Baltimore luxury hotel are wowed at every opportunity. There was plenty of attention when I needed it–like leaving luggage a few hours or getting an umbrella as I walked out into a sudden downpour–but the staffers faded into the background when there wasn’t a need.
This is a true luxury hotel and rates start at around $350 in slow periods, but can top $750 on busy weekends for a harbor-facing room with a balcony. (Plus local taxes of 17.5%.) See more information and book on the Preferred Hotels website (they have a loyalty points program) or at the Pendry.com site.
Article and video tour by editor Tim Leffel, who was a guest at the Sagamore Pendry to review the property in detail for this publication. Photos by the author except where indicated.