AOL PICK from our Editors
The best St. Louis hotels are concentrated downtown and near Forest Park—not coincidentally, where the majority of St. Louis’ top attractions are found. Over the past few years, downtown St. Louis has seen some welcome—and long-overdue—additions at the higher end of the hotel spectrum: Hilton, Hyatt, Westin and, most notably, the Four Seasons. This being the Midwest, prices are reasonable at this segment of the market: Rooms average between $125 and $175. At the two luxury marques in town—Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis and The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis—rooms can often be had for under $225 a night, an unthinkable bargain for those brands compared to prices in cities like Chicago or New York. Those looking for a boutique hotel have few options. Fortunately, they’re worthwhile ones with distinct clientele: the hip (Moonrise Hotel) and the haute (Seven Gables Inn). In general, though, mid-priced and budget hotel chains dominate the St. Louis market. There are plenty of choices under the $100 mark, particularly if you’re willing to stay a bit farther out in the suburbs and near the MetroLink Blue line. Whatever your budget, you will be able to find one of the best St. Louis hotels in your range.
Neighborhood: Downtown Price Range: Expensive
The Four Seasons is the height of luxury and one of the best places to stay in St. Louis. The view from the eighth-floor patio is unparalleled: the swank horizon pool in the foreground, the Gateway Arch in the (near) background, the Mississippi River to the left, the lights of downtown to the right (book a south-facing room to enjoy the same panorama). The 200 soothing, spacious rooms (starting at 491 square feet) have oversized marble bathrooms with deep soak tubs, rain showers and a television embedded in the mirror. Business travelers appreciate the top-notch 24-hour fitness center and in-room fax/copier/printer/scanner, dual phone lines and speedy internet hookups. It’s a very child-friendly hotel, too, with plenty of in-room baby amenities available, a teen-centric game room and a full-day Kids for All Seasons program—which allows parents to escape to the indulgent 12,000-square-foot spa for a massage or next door to the Lumiere Place casino for some gaming action. For a sure bet, though, you can’t do better than the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis.
Neighborhood: Clayton Price Range: Expensive
This grand dame of the St. Louis hotel scene received a $12 million facelift in 2009, perhaps in response to the Four Seasons’ entry into what had been the Ritz-Carlton’s exclusive turf. The 20-year-old dark-wood décor has been replaced with a lighter, brighter yellow and red color palate. The 300 spacious (530 square feet and up) rooms now sport 42-inch flat-screen TVs, iPod docks and wireless service. But the clincher is the balcony; each room has French doors that open onto an incredibly romantic Juliette balcony making the Ritz-Carlton one of the best St. Louis hotels. Service is impeccable from the second you arrive, in keeping with the Ritz-Carlton chain’s first-rate and first-name standards. Definitely splurge on the Sunday champagne brunch in the restaurant (it’s worth it even if you’re not a guest). If you’re eager to explore beyond the hotel grounds, you’re within walking distance of Clayton’s noteworthy restaurants, as well as the Forsyth MetroLink station, which puts the rest of St. Louis within a few quick stops.
Neighborhood: Central West End Price Range: Moderate
In the 1950s, The Chase was the place to see and be seen in St. Louis. Entertainers like the Rat Pack would pull in the crowds at the Chase Club, while presidents and other dignitaries hung their hats in the luxurious rooms upstairs. Today, thanks to a $120 million renovation completed in 1999, “the Chase is the place” once again for elegant lodgings for leisure travelers. This grand 1922 building, located across from Forest Park in the Central West End, is St. Louis’ only National Trust historic hotel. The 251 rooms are poshly furnished, but small. Business travelers may find more appeal once the Chase Club concierge floor opens in October 2010 and provides in-room WiFi. The front desk is tiny, so at check-in be prepared to queue—and for a reception that’s often frosty. To avoid the reverberations from the swank Cafe Eau downstairs, ask for a room on the fourth floor or higher. There’s also an upscale five-screen cinema (with its own bar), the lovely and lively Chaser’s Lounge for jazz, and the landmark Tenderloin Room for fine dining making Chase one of the top St. Louis hotels once more.
Neighborhood: Forest Park Price Range: Moderate
For sheer convenience, it’s hard to top the Hampton Inn and Suites at Forest Park. The 126-room family-friendly hotel is located just across Highway 40 from Forest Park’s myriad attractions and within 15 minutes of downtown St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Central West End, The Hill and Clayton. Opened in 2005, the hotel still appears brand new, a testament to the diligence and high standards of the staff, keeping it on the list of the best St. Louis hotels. The hot tub and indoor pool (which is stocked with swim noodles) are a hit among younger guests, as are the waffle makers on the free breakfast bar. If you’re too busy to sit down and eat, there are breakfast-to-go bags and bottled waters at the front desk. Add in free parking and high-speed internet, and an above-average fitness center, and there’s much to praise about this exceptional example of what a chain hotel could be.
Neighborhood: Clayton Price Range: Moderate
Set among the office towers and chic restaurants of Clayton, this elegant boutique hotel in a historic Tudor Revival building offers travelers a touch of old-world charm and luxury. We give the Seven Gables Inn high marks for attentive service and gracious hospitality, down to the nightly wine-and-cheese reception and the free Fiji water and Ghirardelli chocolates en suite. The 32 rooms are surprisingly spacious, with comfortable Enrapture beds—and, of course, a copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables on the nightstand. Enjoy the free continental breakfast in the tranquil courtyard, or sip a Guinness while people-watching from a sidewalk table at Molly Darcys, the inn’s popular Irish pub. We wouldn't be the first to say that the unique character of Seven Gables makes it one of the best places to stay in St. Louis.
Neighborhood: The Delmar Loop Price Range: Moderate
Hipsters gravitate to this one-of-a-kind boutique hotel, located just steps from the late-night hot spots on the Delmar Loop. This latest venture from Joe Edwards—the founder of Blueberry Hill and the “mayor” of the Delmar Loop—combines wink-wink kitsch with urban cool at the Moonrise Hotel. The moon theme is ever present, from the huge rotating moon overlooking the über-popular rooftop bar, to the crescent-shape light fixtures in the hallways, to the display cases of Edwards’ own space memorabilia in the Eclipse restaurant. The 200 spotless rooms feature flat screen TVs and iPod docks next to the extremely comfortable beds. The six suites are named after famous St. Louisans (such as Buddy Ebsen and Vincent Price) and feature funky Warhol-like pop-art portraits of each star. Staff members—especially the “manager of desires” (i.e. concierge)—go out of their way to greet guests and guide them to the bounty of attractions near this top St. Louis hotel.
Neighborhood: Benton Park Price Range: Budget
There’s no forgetting that the Brewer’s House B&B is also owner Rick Compton’s home; he makes visitors staying in his two cozy guest rooms feel as welcome as family. Guests praise the St. Louis native not only for his impressive breakfasts, but also his insider tips for navigating the city. This Civil War-era brick house on a residential street is close to the blossoming restaurant scene in Benton Park, the rollicking bar district in historic Soulard and—true to its name—the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The downstairs Master Suite has a fantastic shower, while the upstairs Brewer’s Room includes a library featuring books written by former guests. The personal and welcoming nature of Brewer's House makes it one of our favorite places and one of the best St. Louis hotels.
Neighborhood: Richmond Heights Price Range: Budget
This quirky inn takes its British theme to heart, right down to the parking lot where you drive on the left side. The 106 guest rooms are rather dated, but they’re clean and comfortable, and a good value, given the hotel’s prime location kitty corner from Forest Park. (If you’re feeling flush, upgrade to one of the six kitschy “fantasy suites,” popular among St. Louis newlyweds.) There’s free parking and Wi-Fi, plus a (limited) complimentary breakfast and a (limited) free shuttle to Forest Park attractions. Recoup from sightseeing with a dip in the recently renovated pool or with a pint at the hotel’s Fox and Hound Tavern.
Neighborhood: The Gate District Price Range: Budget
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This former hospital-turned-hotel is now managed by St. Louis University, but you don’t need to be a Billiken to book one of the 62 rooms. It’s a low-frills stay; the simple, clean rooms have an industrial feel, and service tends to be lackadaisical. There’s a dorm-issue cafeteria and fitness center, and guests enjoy complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi. It’s a good value, though, and one of the few lodging options in this part of town. It’s a short drive from the theaters, galleries, restaurants and bars of the Grand Center, South Grand and Lafayette Square neighborhoods. You will want to cab it instead of walk, especially at night, since the route in between isn’t the safest.