Illusions is a hotel lounge where most folks would rather lounge than dance. There is a smallish dance floor, to be sure, complete with a DJ booth to control the Top 40 and oldies action, a mirrored wall, a couple of large video screens and twinkling lights by way of a starry disco heaven.
But dancers were in the minority the other night, with far more people settled into the admittedly comfy seating of this club located in the Inner Harbor Marriott. So it makes sense that the lounge furniture actually extends a bit onto the dance floor.
As for the loungers, they were the assortment one expects from perusing a hotel guest book: a group of ladies in their Sunday church-going best, a tourist couple from Venezuela, a solitary middle-aged businessman, quickly downing a whiskey as if it were a dose of nocturnal medicine.
Likewise, the basic light fare menu available at Illusions seems characteristic of a chain hotel kitchen rather than a distinctive pub. The prices tend to be hotel-steep, too, as in $6.95 for sandwiches or burgers.
"We cater to our hotel guests, because we don't draw from the Baltimore community as much as we'd like," says Jim Breeden, food and beverage manager of the 6-year-old Illusions. Some of the office crowd comes in for happy hour and other locals for a late night spin on the dance floor, but otherwise Illusions doesn't seem to have caught on with Baltimoreans headed to the harbor.
"Frankly, the lounge has never really been a big success. We're hoping to change its character when the Camden Yards stadium opens up in a couple years," Mr. Breeden continues, adding that it's too soon to say what changes might be in store at the club.
Whether the downtown stadium does indeed serve as a night-life magnet is a west side redevelopment story that has yet to unfold. But if more of the Inner Harbor energy pushes westward, Illusions is an attractively decorated club that may yet catch on with many locals who are barely aware that it's nestled inside the Marriott.
Where: Inner Harbor Marriott, Pratt and Eutaw streets.
Hours: 11 a.m.- 1:30 a.m. daily.
Menu: All-day light fare.
Credit cards: All major cards accepted.