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June 2007

Hilton Oceanfront Suites
32nd Street and Oceanside
Ocean City, MD
410-289-6333
Ocean City Hilton Home Page

Welcome to www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at The Hilton Oceanfront Suites in Ocean City, Maryland.


Our Pictures


Accommodations Amenities Food Bar/Lounge Service Attractions Dining Nightlife Weather Tips



Accommodations

We stayed in a king suite which was superb. Entering off the hall, you are in a living room with a sleeper sofa, stuffed chair, dining chair and 4 chairs, dresser, and 32” plasma flat screen TV. Since there were no windows in this room it was quite dark – really nothing can be done about that, although the lighting was dim at best.

Beyond the living room was a wide hall and a full kitchen located along one wall. The kitchen had a full-size refrigerator, dishwasher, oven/stove, microwave, granite counters, and smaller appliances like blender and toaster, along with a small bar-type sink. Plates, glasses, silverware, pots and pans and the like were provided. The refrigerator did not have an icemaker as an icemaker is available on each floor for guests. The things we found missing from the kitchen were basic condiments (salt and pepper) and paper towels, but otherwise, it was well-outfitted.

Across from the kitchen was the very spacious bathroom, complete with two sinks in the granite vanity. There was a spacious corner whirlpool (very deep) with a showerhead directly above. Six sets of towels were provided the entire time we were there. A hair dryer and spare roll of toilet paper were in a vanity drawer.

The bedroom was oceanfront and had a very comfortable king-size bed, dresser, lounge chair and ottoman, bedside tables, and another 32” plasma flat-screen TV, as well as a closet with safe and two robes. The bedroom opened out onto a balcony with a table and four chairs.

We were very comfortable in our suite and found it to be one of the nicest we have ever stayed in when it comes to chain hotels – much nicer than expected. It seemed as if the suites were designed with the idea that they would be occupied by 4 or more people. Also available are suites with 2 queen size beds as well as specialty suites on the corners (and some with outdoor “hot tubs”) and a penthouse. The air conditioning worked great – in fact, almost too well. There was also a ceiling fan in the living room. We had plenty of room to spread out and were very comfortable. The kitchen was a nice option – we didn’t have to eat out every meal (we brought breakfast food, snacks, and beverages), and is helpful for those with children. We do need to warn you that the suites are expensive in high season (summer) but we felt we pretty much got what we paid for.

Resort Amenities

The resort is chock-full of amenities: fitness center (we did not use), high speed Internet access (we did not use), business center where 2 computers with Internet access are available to guests for free (we did use), indoor pool (we did not use). There were two outdoor pools: a children’s activity pool which looked like a lot of fun. It had a water slide and a smaller slide, fountains to run through, slowly graduated access for little tykes, a section with a whirlpool that pushed kids around in a circle. If we had children, we definitely would have used this pool! The kids looked like they were having a blast. There was also a large in-ground hot tub located next to this pool (we thought it made more sense to locate that next to the adult pool) with a sign forbidding entry to anyone under 15. The adult pool was large and square with a swim-up bar at one end. Our major beef was that although there was a great children’s pool, people still insisted on bringing their kids over the adult pool and allowing them to do things like throw balls that would actually hit other patrons. Let us stress it really wasn’t bad kids, but bad parents who were behaving in ways that parents shouldn’t behave in public.

In spite of the kids thwacking into people in the adult pool (at one point there were so many kids in the adult pool, we were thinking perhaps we should just go over to the kids’ pool!) we had a great time. There were plenty of lounge chairs – we think about 300 for both pools. There was an unfortunate employee who was tasked with going around to patrons at the pool and asking if they were hotel guests. She then gave them wristbands to identify them as guests. She also had a list of hotel rooms and guests names to look people up. There really were a good number of people who just walked up from the beach and jumped into the pool, and she did her best to evict them from the property. We think it may have made more sense for someone to be stationed at the gates outside the pools. The pools overlook the ocean and it’s apparent the hotel works hard at keeping these spaces in top shape. One thing to be aware of – from about 3 p.m. on, the pools are in shade (once the sun moves beyond the hotel).

Resort Food

The resort has 3 dining venues: 32 Palm (fine dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), Rumbas Lounge (a bar with lite fare), and Manana Mode Pool Bar (drinks and sandwiches and other lite fare). We only actually ate things from Manana, pool-side. One day we had mozzarella sticks (decidedly frozen which had been nuked in the microwave) and tortilla chips and queso dip – so-so. Another day we each had a hot dog and fries – much better. Be forewarned that the food and drinks are not cheap. Guests are not allowed to bring in outside alcohol to the pool area.

Resort Bar/Lounge

We bought several drinks throughout our stay pool-side and at the swim-up bar. The beer and wine were less expensive, but the mixed drinks average $7-$9 each. It is convenient, however, and the servers were all very friendly.

Resort People/Service

We had positive experiences with the Hilton employees – check-in was a breeze. The poolside personnel were friendly and our room was always cleaned promptly and thoroughly. No complaints – you get what you pay for.

Area/Attractions

Ocean City is a barrier island several miles long just south of the Delaware border. It is only a few blocks wide and the numbered streets go up to 142nd Street (with some other named streets). There is a boardwalk that goes up to 28th Street. Along the boardwalk are an amusement park, games, arcades, shops, and restaurants. There are also lots of restaurants located along the main drag – Philadelphia Avenue – which runs the length of the island. There are plenty of mini-golf courses and water parks. Besides the beach, the usual water activities are available along the bay. It is a very family-friendly destination. Note that Maryland is NOT a non-smoking state so if smoking bothers you, you may want to check whether or not the restaurant you are going to has a non-smoking area. Some restaurants have chosen to go completely non-smoking but that is not something that is legislated.

Dining

Fausto’s Ristorante Antipasti - 3101 Philadelphia Avenue 410-289-4588
Fausto's Ristorant Home Page
We walked to Fausto’s the first night of our visit. We were in shorts and didn’t have reservations but they didn’t bat an eye. We do have to relay something funny that happened. There are entrances on both sides of the restaurant and apparently we chose the “wrong” one – it landed us at the bar. The bartender pointed over to the other entrance so we simply walked across the room. The host (owner?) smiled at us and said (in an Italian accent), “Thank you and come again,” as he seated someone else. Of course, we had just arrived, so this was funny. Another woman came along and seated us. We ordered a bottle of Verdicchio, while Keith had the Carpaccio Di Filetto (paper-thin antipasti style) and Lori had the Clams Casino. Both were delicious. For entrees, we chose half portions of pasta (since often entrée sizes are too large). Keith had the Gnocchi alla Contadina, while Lori had the Ravioli di Ricotta. Both were good and the perfect size. Service was excellent and we would definitely recommend this restaurant.

Brass Balls Saloon - On the Boardwalk between 11th & 12th Streets 410-289-0069
Brass Balls Home Page
Yes, this place really is called the Brass Balls. It’s been there awhile – we’re not sure how long – Lori remembers it from the early 80s (so that means at least 25 years). There are these 3 brass balls hanging inside the bar above the entrance – at least, they used to be brass. Now they are a tarnished brown color. At any rate, it’s decent pub food at reasonable prices. We sat outside (simple wood booths with benches and umbrellas). Inside is smoking. We had mixed drinks (margaritas and rum runners). Keith had a buffalo chicken salad, and Lori had a cheese burger with tasty waffle fries. It’s not gourmet, but it’s consistent. Although it’s all the same place, the Bad Ass Café is upstairs overlooking the boardwalk. Big Peckers is a sister (or brother) restaurant, up at 73rd Street. Hootie’s is their store which, of course, sells Big Peckers and Brass Balls shirts and other gift items.

Phillips by the Sea - 1301 Atlantic Avenue 410-489-9121
Phillips By The Sea Home Page
Phillips is an institution in Ocean City. It was started by the Phillips family in the late 1950s and there are 3 locations in Ocean City. Since then, it has expanded to other areas (Annapolis, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Myrtle Beach, Washington DC) and continues to grow. But their commitment to good food has remained strong. Lori first ate at a Phillips 25 years ago and has raved about the crab. When she was in Baltimore on business, she sought out the Inner Harbor Phillips for crab. We’d dined at the old original location previously, and this time we opted for the beachfront location (in the Phillips hotel). We went early (around 6) and were able to eat on the porch overlooking the ocean. Those who came along shortly thereafter weren’t so lucky and either had to eat inside or wait for a table (and this was a Tuesday evening). Keith isn’t into shellfish and had the 10-ounce filet mignon, which came wrapped in bacon. Considering this is a seafood place, he said it was one of the better steaks he has had in recent memory. Lori had the shrimp imperial – broiled shrimp covered in crab imperial. It was tasty and the portion size was just right. Two sides came with our meals, and we paid $1 extra for Caesar salad, and we also had Mexican rice. There was a nice, steaming hot loaf of sourdough bread. It was a strong dining experience and we recommend it.

The Angler Restaurant - 310 Talbot Street 410-289-7424
We had dinner at the Angler on our previous trip to Ocean City. It is located down towards the bottom of Ocean City (the more historic area), on the bay. It was a nice night and we chose to eat outside. They feature lots of fresh fish done a variety of ways. Unfortunately, the Mako Keith wanted was not available, so he settled for a chicken pasta dish. Lori got the clam strips, which were good (generally clam strips are frozen but these were fresh). It’s a good place for a romantic meal, but ours was quite boisterous as we were dining with some acquaintances we met at our hotel (a good time was had by all). The Angler gives diners a free cruise on the bay with dinner, but we ate too late to go out on the cruise (we were given a rain check for another night). I’m sure we’ll return to this place when we are next in Ocean City.

Bayside Skillet - 77th Street & the Bay 410-524-7950
Bayside Skillet Home Page
This is primarily a crepe and omelet place, and we had breakfast here one morning. It’s quite pink and frilly, which could put some people off. We dined inside (there was also an expansive deck out back). It claims to be bayside, and it sort of is – but there is a good couple hundred yards of marshland separating the deck from the bay. Keith had a broccoli and cheddar omelet, and Lori had the lump crab and Wisconsin cheese omelet (with Old Bay seasoning). The omelets are very large. They are also on the expensive side. The only side is a crepe with a bit of strawberry jam – anything else is extra. We just had iced tea. Our bill came to $29 which is pretty pricey for breakfast for 2, but it was good. Beware that if you take a family here for breakfast, it could cost you as much as dinner would. Note that they do serve lunch and dinner as well as drinks. One thing that was slightly irritating was that a worker was constantly juicing fresh oranges right in the middle of the restaurant – and the continuous grating sound was…well…grating. There were tables right near where he was working and it must have been especially irritating for them.

Fausto’s Bistro - 1109 Atlantic Avenue (On the Boardwalk at 12th Street)
Fauto's Bistro Home Page
Yes, this is the same Fausto who owns the restaurant we previously went to – apparently they have 3 locations in Ocean City. We were on the boardwalk and saw Fausto’s had a brick oven pizza place that looked good and returned a few nights later. It’s actually located in the Howard Johnson’s hotel. You go up stairs from the boardwalk that span the small outdoor pool. The inside is quite nice – large and airy – with a big bar and lots of tables. The brick oven was on one side of the restaurant. The entire restaurant is non-smoking. Our server (an Italian guy named Marcia – not like the Brady Bunch, but pronounced “mar-SEE-ah”) was very attentive. We ordered a bottle of wine and split the goat cheese appetizer. It was encrusted and served over greens (rucola) with vinaigrette. Very good! Then we chose to split a pizza – the classic, which was pepperoni, mozzarella, tomato, and basil. The crust was wonderful, and as we were eating it, we both commented as to how we felt like we could go on eating it forever! There were several families in there – likely they appreciated the smoke-free atmosphere and the reasonably priced food (which had a gourmet taste). We don’t recall any Fausto’s restaurants from our previous visit to Ocean City, but it was nearly a decade ago. We would definitely visit their establishments again and recommend them – not just for the food, but also for the service.

Nightlife

OK, we aren’t getting any younger, and there was really only one night we stayed out to midnight (and that was our first night in Ocean City). We went to the Sand Bar Karaoke Nightclub, located at 3301 Coastal Highway, Ocean City 410-289-1558. We had been to this place years ago but it was called something else and then had lots of black lights. Other than that, it was pretty much the same. We found out karaoke starts at 10, so we played pool for a couple hours. We did both get up twice and sing, and there was a mix of good singers present. As far as we could tell, this place does not serve food – just drinks. And you probably wouldn’t want to eat there, because it was very smoky. At midnight it seemed the karaoke degenerated into rap (not our cup of tea) so we went back to our hotel.

There are plenty of bars and nightclubs with entertainment (and the afore-mentioned karaoke) available in Ocean City – just take your pick. And be sure to use public transportation!

Weather

We visited in late June. High season in Ocean City is really July 4 – Labor Day, but unofficially summer begins here Memorial Day Weekend. It was cool our first day (70s) but hot the rest of the time – low to high 80s and very humid. Because this is the beach, the temperature in the summer rarely reaches 90, but it can still feel hot. If you visit in the summer, make sure your accommodations have air conditioning – a must!

Tips/Suggestions

Take the bus. It’s a great way to get around. There is a bus stop about every block along the main drag and it only costs $2 a day. That way you can avoid the hassle of getting stuck in traffic and looking for a parking space (remember this is a coastal island and most of the valuable real estate is given over to hotels, restaurants, and attractions – not parking). Also this is handy if you are drinking. We just parked out car at the hotel and didn’t touch it the entire time we were there.

Make sure you use plenty of sun protection if you visit during the summer. A heated pool will always be warmer than the ocean – the ocean temperatures average in the low 70s in the summer.