An opportunity to get acquainted with MBBA members
Featuring: Linda Smith, innkeeper at Rachael’s Dowry Bed and Breakfast in downtown Baltimore
Tell me about your bed-and-breakfast: What style is the house (farmhouse/Victorian/colonial…)?
What year was it built? How many guest rooms do you have?
Rachael’s Dowry was the 6-room Federal style home of a brick baron. Built circa 1798 it boasts beautiful Victorian tilework and marble fireplace upgrades. The home hosted George and Martha Washington several times as guests of the Warners, and is rumored to have been part of the Underground Railroad. Located on the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail (Washington’s route to the Battle of Yorktown), Rachael’s is on the National Register of Historic Places and has won multiple heritage awards for preservation and restoration. It opened as a B&B in 2010 after extensive renovation, so it has all of the modern amenities, but feels like you’re visiting the Warners in early America.
Tell me about you: How long have you been in the hospitality industry? Are you originally from Maryland– if not, what brought you here? What drew you into innkeeping?
I was raised in Pennsylvania’s Amish country and bought Rachael’s Dowry in 2016. After a nearly 30-year corporate career in high tech global marketing, I knew it was time to come home. I was done with the stresses of corporate life. I wasn’t ready to retire yet, and wanted something that would support me until that time. I’ve always loved our Federal history and am a sailor, so I wanted to be somewhere on the mid-Atlantic coast. Innkeeping was something my sister and I often talked about early in our careers. Definitely an extrovert, entertaining has always been a passion of mine, so the combination of cooking breakfasts, meeting new people and helping others discover Baltimore struck the right chord. I’m thrilled that I landed in this beautiful home and in gritty, vibrant Baltimore. This is such an ‘underrated’ city. Baltimore has gotten a bad rap, but the downtown area is very safe. I love living here… and I’ve lived in some pretty amazing cities all around the world!
What brings travelers to your town?
Part of the beauty of Rachael’s Dowry’s location is the proximity to everything going on in downtown Baltimore. Camden Yards and Ravens Stadium and the Convention Center are steps from my door. We’re within a 10-minute walk of the Business and Bromo Arts Districts so you can walk to the theater. Two of the top ranked University Medical Systems are right here, with the University of Maryland Medical Center just across the street and Johns Hopkins less than 2 miles away. In 2017 Fodor’s ranked Baltimore City one of the top 15 waterfront cities worldwide, and it’s easy to understand why. We have 8 live theaters, TONS of great chefs with amazing restaurants, high-quality national museums and attractions, and one of the most important historical monuments from our early nation in Fort McHenry.
What local sights and/or attractions do you recommend to your guests?
It’s hard to know where to start with attraction recommendations for our guests. Most don’t know what Baltimore has to offer. This is a city of America’s ‘firsts’: the first Catholic basilica, Unitarian church, Methodist church and Jewish synagogue. We have the oldest operating market with the Lexington Market, the first conservatory for music (Peabody), and the B&O Railroad Museum. Our Inner Harbor houses the National Aquarium and all types of boating and sightseeing options.
If you love art, we have the American Visionary Arts Museum, the largest collection of Matisses in the world at the free Baltimore Museum of Art, the stunning Peabody Library, the original Washington Monument, and an outstanding diverse collection at the brilliant Walters Art Museum.
For history, Fort McHenry is the place where America’s freedom was finally secured and our Star Spangled Banner was written. We have several African-American, Civil War and War of 1812 museums. We have Edgar Alan Poe, Babe Ruth, Frederick Douglas, Billie Holliday, Thurgood Marshall… and the list goes on.
And then there’s the culinary scene here in Baltimore– chefs like Duff Goldberg, Cindy Wolfe, Gordon Ramsay, Guy Fieri, Giada and Simon Gjerde all have restaurants here. And let’s not forget to mention all of the excellent ethnic restaurants and our vibrant nightlife at Harbor East, Federal Hill and Fells Point. Craft brewing, the resurgence of Rye Whiskey distilleries, and the newly opened Guinness Brewery (first outside Dublin since 1956) all complement our growing regional wine industry for craft beverage aficionados.
Baltimore is ripe for discovery, with so much to offer that we’ve only scraped the surface with this listing.
Many travelers choose bed-and-breakfasts for the unique lodging experience. What makes Rachael’s Dowry unique?
History combined with luxury is the cornerstone of the Rachael’s Dowry experience. In our beautiful inn you’ll feel like you’re being hosted by one of Colonial America’s prominent families with the exquisite antique furniture, fine china and silver, and warm fireplaces and rooms. But at 220 years old, this home is just as clean, fresh and inviting as it was when the Warners lived here. With the luxury linens, soaking tubs with bath salts, robes, excellent sipping brandy, gourmet breakfasts, homemade cookies and all-day coffee and tea services you’ll feel pampered. At the same time, DirecTV and excellent WiFi systems allow you to binge or work like any 21st century business or leisure traveler.
Do you have any hobbies or a favorite way to relax?
Luckily, cooking and baking is a hobby of mine, so I’m regularly changing up my menu or inventing new cookies. But to get away from the inn occasionally, I enjoy sailing with the local club down here at the Inner Harbor. Golf has dropped by the wayside for now, but hopefully one day I’ll pick that up again!
What is one breakfast dish or sweet treat that your guests particularly enjoy?
My homemade cookies seem to be the biggest hit here at the inn. They’re gluten-free, because I am, but you’d never know that if I didn’t tell you! For breakfast, though, the one thing that everyone raves about is the carrot cake pancakes. The secrets are the amount of spice in the batter and the maple-cream cheese topping that just goes SO well with bacon! I plate it with a stack of 4 pancakes drizzled with caramel sauce, topped with the maple-cream and berries, then sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Would you like to share the recipe?
Carrot Cake Pancakes
For the pancakes: To your favorite batter, add grated carrots, currants or raisins, chopped pecans or almonds, and ample pumpkin spice mix.
For the maple cream: Using a hand mixer, to an 8-ounce room temperature block of cream cheese (real only… the low-fat kind doesn’t blend properly), add maple syrup a little at a time until you get to the consistency you want. Be careful – adding too much up front doesn’t allow the cream cheese to blend well with the syrup (it can be chunky), and may make it too thin.