Doubletree BWI was going to get between four and five stars from me before things began to unravel.
It’s a good hotel if you want to be in close proximity to the Baltimore Airport. BWI is a 5-10 minute complementary shuttle ride, and there isn’t any airplane noise to bother you at night. The building itself isn’t extraordinary, but it’s not in need of immediate repair either. Elevators are prompt, the rooms are reasonably clean (except around the windows), the bathrooms are updated (great sink, if that excites you), and pillow-topped, well-supportive beds that were very comfortable. There’s also an outdoor, decent-sized, 9-foot deep lap pool outside in pleasant surroundings.
As a Hilton Gold member, I was “upgraded” to the Honors floor which, as one or two of my predecessors also noted, was a misnomer. One usually expects deluxe rooms to be slightly larger. In this case, Doubletree segregates rooms solely based on how they’re equipped; if you’re Deluxe, you’re entitled to a hidden refrigerator and microwave, complementary water, and breakfast. Not a big deal unless you’re expecting more room to play Twister.
Speaking of breakfast, it's okay but not memorable. Coffee is pretty lousy. Unfortunately, espresso-based drinks are only available in the coffee shop. Go figure! The buffet for us was rather sparse: the usual scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries, and pre-sliced melon. Nothing looked too appetizing. So even though it was complementary, I elected to “save” the $15.95 and opt for the less-pricey menu items like salmon and eggs. On day two, my son ordered a “farm breakfast,” but his meal didn’t arrive until I had finished my own. Too bad, because the waitress was nice. In general, I suspect there may be room for an additional cook, and that would be consistent with my general observations of the hotel. Read on.
Our impressions soured on our second day when the shuttle took 45 minutes to get us back from the Amtrak station. The front desk never warned us that he was backed up or else we would have taken a cab. When the driver finally did show up, he had to go back to the airport to pick up arriving passengers. Evidently he was overloaded with Red Sox fans returning from the game that night. And while driving, someone from the hotel was frantically calling him on his intercom because a guest’s toilet was clogged and she couldn’t find the plunger. It was really rather funny, but it didn’t portray the hotel in a good light to hear the conversation, especially as the front desk agent couldn’t find the keys to the room with the plunger and we, the passengers, realized that the shuttle driver needed to rush back to the hotel because he was the only one who could solve the problem.
Upon our return, the chaotic atmosphere was rather apparent. Only one person at the front desk, several people waiting in line, phones ringing off the hook, nobody to give us the famous Doubletree cookies (a tragedy, I know!), nobody to take my pent up feedback about having to wait 45 minutes for a shuttle ride of 7 minutes. Meanwhile the front desk agent was trying desperately to calm an irate hotel guest about the ongoing toilet issue, reassuring her that the “manager” was back and her problem would soon be solved.
As luck would have it, OUR toilet backed up at 5:30 AM and water flooded our bathroom., When I ventured downstairs to recruit assistance, nothing had changed. In fact, it was worse. There were many people waiting for assistance and to check-out, but nobody was at the front desk. Somebody from the restaurant was filling in because nobody knew where the front desk agent had gone. She even chastised him when he returned for abandoning his post and not taking a cell phone. After 10 minutes of waiting, I was able to report the problem. A high priority bulletin was relayed via intercom, and I returned to my room to wait.
15 minutes later, the bus driver/mechanic/manager/plumber/maid showed up at my door. “Johnny” is worth his weight in gold. He unclogged the toilet, mopped the floor, and fetched more towels to replace those that I used to dry it. Unfortunately the hotel had run out of bath towels, something that didn’t get resolved until after the Assistant Manager arrived three hours later. The whole episode lasted about 90 minutes, and my beauty sleep was essentially shot for the night.
In fact, with the exception of the somewhat tacky “tip” containers prominently displayed by certain (though not all) shuttle drivers, there were many acts of courtesy and professionalism from the staff as a whole. In addition to Johnny, I appreciated my interactions with Desirée, Danni, Mike, Debbie, and Frei. There was never an issue with getting an extra bottle of water, replacing a lost breakfast coupon, or even making an “adjustment” based on my toilet experience. My biggest qualm, however, is that the workers aren’t sufficiently equipped. Even though I was told otherwise, my sense is that there isn’t enough staff on hand to deal with contingencies. As an airport hotel, how can you not expect the unexpected? How can you not anticipate a regular stream of issues, last minute bookings in droves, and regular “peaks” of customer demand? If this is a full service hotel, why are there not two staff members on duty around the clock? Why are there not two shuttle drivers on duty when there’s a ball game or on the weekend? It’s great that people are able to perform at 110% and even wear multiple hats, but this shouldn’t be the norm. From the looks of other reviews, this indeed appears to be the hotel’s Achilles’ heel – reduced staffing. The people who work at Doubletree are great, but the hotel is banking on them being able to weather the storm of unpredictable high demand. The hotel saves on wages, but those bearing the risk and consequences are the travelers.
This being said, I might return to the hotel in the future, because it provides all the fundamentals for a quality stay, and the people who work there go the extra mile. But I’m lowering my expectations of what the hotel can deliver to me in the form of service, so I might rent a car next time … and bring my own plunger.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Thanks for the review. If you don't mind me saying, I will sum this up as "the good, the bad and the ugly". I appreciate how thorough you are in your description of your experience at our hotel. There is really good information here. Some things we did right, and some things we did really wrong. Regardless of our staffing, we want to provide excellent service to each and every guest. I am sorry for the ways we failed to deliver our customary service. Yes, please come back! We would welcome a second chance. I know I speak for Desiree, Danni, Frei, Johnny, Mike, Debbie and all the other great staff members when I say how much we would love to see you back for another visit. Don't lower your expectations! We will rise to the challenge. Thanks for choosing Doubletree by Hilton at BWI.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.