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The Hotel Brexton - One of Baltimore's Best!

Before you start reading about one of the best boutique hotels that Baltimore has to offer let's play a little game. Take a look at the picture below and guess what it is.

Hmmm

Chances are good that you didn't have to trip back to the 60's to figure out that it was a spiral staircase that had been somewhat modified! Below is the original picture of the spiral staircase that is located in the north turret of the Hotel Brexton - the recently renovated and reopened boutique hotel in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore where Amanda and I stayed for the weekend of Otakon.

The Spiral Staircase
From the 5th floor looking down
Hotel BrextonAs awesome as it is, though, that spiral staircase isn't the only cool thing about the Hotel Brexton which opened in February of 2009 after a multi-million dollar restoration.

The history of the Hotel Brexton dates way back to 1868 when the Baltimore City Council decided to extend Park Avenue north of what was then Richmond Street (now Read Street north to Biddle Street); this decision created some very oddly-shaped lots including the triangle created by Park Avenue's intersection with Tyson Street and Tyson Alley (which is now Brexton Street).

So what does one do with a triangular building lot? Prominent Baltimore merchant and developer Samuel G. Wyman, owner of the property, had Charles Cassell, his favorite Baltimore architect, design a 'residential hotel' on the site.  Cassell had previously designed the former Stafford and Junker Hotels - two very prominent Baltimore hotels in their time.

Hotel Brexton

Constructed of Baltimore-pressed brick and Scotch sandstone in the Queen Anne style, building began on the Brexton in 1881.  When it opened as a 60-room residential hotel with shared bathrooms, the seven-story hotel featured a distinctive slate tile roof and was declared by the Baltimore Sun on November 22, 1881 to be "A Very Handsome Improvement..." on the previously vacant property.

Outside looking upOwnership of the Brexton was turned over to the non-profit Mary Byrd Wyman Memorial Association of Baltimore upon the death of Samuel Wyman on March 3rd, 1883 and the property was later converted from a hotel to apartments.

The hotel's most famous resident moved into the Brexton with her mother and widowed "Aunt Bessie" Merryman in 1905. Bessie Wallis Warfield (later Simpson), who would later go on to marry the man who wouldn't be king when Edward VIII abdicated his throne for her, was only nine years old when she and her mother moved into the Brexton after her father died from tuberculosis at the young age of 27.

On January 10th, 1931, Wallis was introduced to Edward the Prince of Wales by Lady Furness at the Melton Mowbray. On June 3rd, 1937, Wallis married Edward, who had ascended the throne of England as Edward VIII on January 20th, 1936 but abdicated that throne less than a year later on December 10th as he found it "impossible to do my duty as King and Emperor without the help and support of the woman I love." As a twice-divorced American with two living ex-husbands, Wallis could never become the wife of a king and Edward loved Wallis more than being King.

Hotel Brexton
The Hotel Brexton at night
In the 1970's the Brexton building closed due to changes in the city's building codes and pretty much fell into rack and ruin in spite of an attempt in the 1980's to get it back up to code.  In 1987 Roger Wood established the Brexton Renaissance - a non-profit organization and registered Maryland charitable organization which served as the focal point for all things related to the Brexton. At that time, though, the old hotel had fallen into a complete and total state of disrepair.

After several other attempts to renovate the property fell through, it was finally bought by Richard Naing of RWN Development Group who spent $4.5 million to restore and upgrade the unique building. Working with architect Kann Partners of Baltimore, in less than three years RWN restored the exterior to its original appearance and reconfigured the interior to create 29 unique and individual guest rooms with large private baths, contemporary and comfortable furnishings, and 21st-century amenities such as flat-screen TVs and wireless Internet access.

Hotel Brexton

Today, the Hotel Brexton is the proud recipient of a 2010 Historic Preservation Award from Baltimore Heritage, Inc., the city’s nonprofit historic and architectural preservation organization. It's also a member of the Historic Hotels of America which requires that a  hotel must be at least 50 years old and be listed in or be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places to qualify. All of this made the Brexton the ideal place for me as you all know how much I love history!

Side wall of the Brexton

So how did we end up staying at the Brexton? Well, to try to make a long story a tad bit shorter - with Otakon in town for the weekend plus international soccer going on, too, it was getting a bit tricky to find a hotel somewhere within a reasonable distance of the downtown area that wasn't going to cost me several arms and at least one leg though I was putting in due diligence in trying to find one.  Finally, I came across the website for the Hotel Brexton which looked to be right up my alley but I had a couple of questions so I emailed the hotel and received an almost immediate response from Paul Masai, the hotel's manager.

Several emails followed as Paul told me about the parking situation (something you always, always, always need to check on when staying in Baltimore) as well as what he had available for rooms that would accommodate myself and my 18-year old daughter.  All of his double rooms were booked but he told me that a superior Queen room had a couch with a fold-out bed that would be perfect for the two of us.

Following another email wherein I told Paul that my plans for the weekend were to spend it with my Nikon exploring the Mount Vernon District as I write a blog and would be doing posts on the history of the area, he wrote me back and told me that he was going to upgrade my room to a superior King at what I thought was a darned good price as he wanted me to have a room with really good views of the city.  He also told me that if I let him know when I would be arriving that he would block off parking for me (which is available free of charge for guests in the front of the hotel) and that if needed, I would be able to check into my room ahead of the 3:00 p.m. check-in. He also told me that if there was anything else he could do for me to not hesitate to contact him and he would take care of it directly. I jokingly mentioned that if he could get me some decent weather for the weekend I would be eternally grateful and as it turned out, the weekend was gorgeous and a beautiful break from the horribly hot summer that Baltimore has been experiencing. I tell ya, that man is good!

Room 603 windows
The location of our room near the south turret
A room with a view!
Some of the views from our room - Paul was right!
As you can see, the lobby was cute and cozy and the girl at the front desk when I checked in was incredibly nice (I should've gotten pictures of the staff - darn, I'll have to go back!)

Front Door & The Lobby

Even though the elevator was small, it was quite unique in that it is pentagon shaped. I apologize for the not-so-great picture but it was a last minute thought to get a picture of it!

Elevator

As for the room itself, we were on the 6th floor in #603 which was huge! The king-size bed was probably big enough for three - never mind just me - and about as comfortable as a bed could get! The couch was darned comfortable, too, as I sprawled out on it with my feet up while watching a mini-marathon of "House" on the flat-screen TV in between photo hunts while my iPhone recharged on the iPod-docking clock radio.

Room #603 at the Hotel Brexton

As for the bathroom - it was huge! That was the first thing Amanda remarked on when she finally got to see the hotel around 10:00 Friday night.  The room was rather triangular-shaped due its placement in the building and I just loved the vanity with its glass bowl sink!  The towels - oh mai goodness - the towels were the softest I have ever experienced at a hotel and there were loads of them as the cabinet under the vanity was well-stocked, too!

The Sink

It was the little touches that really made the Brexton an even more enjoyable experience, though. The rosette-shaped tissues, that cute little toilet paper triangle, swans made from towels (my very first experience with towel animals!), and the in-room coffee machine was a Keurig with a large assortment of flavored creamers and teas and coffee.  What more could a traveler ask for??

It's the little things that count!

Well, now that you asked I can tell you!  On the very lower level of the hotel the Brexton has a small kitchen/cafe area where they serve a lovely European Continental breakfast every morning and where they  have an ice machine, microwave, refrigerator, and the most wondrous machine of all -

Kitchen & Latte Lounge

The "Latte Lounge" serves coffee/tea/hot chocolate/espresso and more 24 hours a day.  This thing was totally amazing and the beverages that came out of it were absolutely out of this world.  I wish I'd been there longer so that I could have tried even more of the choices available but believe it or not - a gal can only drink so many hot beverages in a two-night stay!  Trust me, I tried a lot of them, though! A really nice touch is that there were glass coffee mugs as well as insulated to-go cups complete with sippy lids. I tell ya, they think of everything at the Hotel Brexton!

And then there's that amazing spiral staircase that extends from the lobby up the fifth floor in the north turret. It's just an amazing architectural piece and the view from the windows as you go up just gets better and better!

Down & Up the Spiral Staircase
Going down and going up!
Sepia Spiral Staircase
Spiral Sepia
Going Up!
From the lobby looking up
View outside from the spiral staircase windows
One of the views from the staircase windows
Even at night without using a flash, the Hotel Brexton is absolutely beautiful and reminds me of something out of a Harry Potter novel with its turrets and spires and angles.  As for that orb on the right side of the photo, perhaps it's the ghost of Wallis, Duchess of Windsor come back to take a look at her old home.  I bet she'd be quite pleased with the renovations and beauty!

Hotel Brexton at night plus an orb

If you're ever in Baltimore and you need a place to stay, I highly, highly, highly recommend that you contact Paul Masai at the Hotel Brexton and see what he can do about fixing you up with a room that you are absolutely positively going to love with perhaps only one exception - the Wi-Fi is not free. I might have been upset about that except that I was too enchanted with everything else and truth be told, I didn't mind not being on-line for the weekend for a change. It was good for me!

All in all, the hotel is beautiful, the neighborhood is enchanting (more on that later), and the staff is wonderful. The Hotel Brexton has charm and personality and history and was a totally great place to stay. As a matter of fact, I'm already trying to figure out what excuse I can use to get back down there again!  Oh and hey - maybe next time I can stay in the Wallis Warfield Simpson Suite!

Signage over the exit

Comments

  1. Dear Linda:

    I believe I stayed in the Brexton long before you did, and for a longer period. I stayed in #601, if I recall correctly, in the "penthouse" (6th floor), by the North turret. I have a note of my arrival and departure dates, and I paid $75.00 per month, to a Rose Pettus! (Yes, the dot between "75" and "00" is intended to be there.) I recognise the little dead end in the Wallis Simpson Suite in hotelbrexton.com's virtual tour--I'm pretty sure it was my kitchen. I think they moved the bathroom entry. There was a fire escape outside my bathroom window that bottomed on Tyson St. A burglar and a cat entered that way; the latter fathered kittens with my feline roomate; one of THEM fell out a Park Ave window (there were no screens back then.) I used to get up on the roof and photograph with my Pentax; I bet YOU didn't.

    Google my name to find more.

    --Janet Granofsky

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can not but agree with this description of the Hotel!

    I stayed for only two nights here in mid October 2011 during an exhausting flurry of business trips mixed in with holiday/sight seeing etc.

    The atmosphere, facilities, welcome and staff in the Brexton were extra-ordinary. It was 'home away from home'. Paul is a brilliantly friendly and professional manager - but the ladies in Reception were also outstanding!

    This hotel is a real gem!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have cemented my decision to stay at this hotel! My husband and I are traveling to Baltimore in November for a concert at the Lyric Opera House (Joe Bonamassa) and I have been looking for something within walking distance. I am an amatuer photographer and can hardly wait to taek spiral staircase photos! Thank you very much

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so glad to hear that Linda - you and your husband will love it there! If you see Paul Masai, the General Manager, please give him my best!

      Delete

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