Commentary: Summer’s End

love-opera-victoria-bakerAs summer starts to fade we find ourselves trying to get in that last vacation, that last boat ride, that last day at Tod’s Point…anything to stretch out those last days in the Sun. I had my own little last weekend of the summer moment recently. And no, it wasn’t in the Hamptons or on Martha’s Vineyard, it was somewhere far more intriguing…

“I’m not a beautiful woman…so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else” famous words by Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom King Edward abdicated the throne of England. I’ve always been fascinated by Wallis and longed to visit the city of her birth. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that a brand new boutique hotel was opening across the street from a home Wallis grew up in, in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore.

The Ivy Hotel was built 125 years ago as a palatial private home. It has pride of place in one of Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods built around the original 1815 Washington monument and offers visitors a virtual walking tour of America’s most pristine 19th century architecture. In Baltimore’s heyday it was a fashionable haven for intellectuals like Emily Post, Fitzgerald and Edgar Allan Poe.

I was so impressed with The Ivy (the hotel opened just this summer) in the way it managed to unite both old and new. Original crown moldings and stain-glass windows blend harmoniously with state of the art modernity. The color scheme in the Library looks like it was taken straight out of a Gustav Klimt painting — this is surely one of the best renovations of 2015! From the hand-painted murals, to the elegant afternoon tea and exquisite decorative touches in all the rooms: The Ivy’s philosophy is to make you feel you have stepped into your very own mansion with a dedicated staff. Baltimore is most definitely undergoing a Renaissance and I would venture to say The Ivy is at the helm of this impressive transformation.

Perhaps the crowning jewel of the hotel is Magdalena, the fine dining bistro on property, the Chef is an exceptional culinary artist. The cross-cultural menu is built upon the finest local ingredients and changes seasonally.

As I looked through the window at breakfast over at Wallis Simpson’s former home I could clearly imagine her…out and about in her wildly fashionable outfits, socializing with the cream of Baltimore society, perhaps even ringing my very own doorbell so we could chat over an elegant afternoon tea spread. It wasn’t a classic summer escape but it allowed me to leave the confines of everyday life and step back in time, not bad for a two hour drive from home!

Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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