St. Louis has traditionally been America’s gateway to the West. Saint Lewis, as the locals call it, is a deeply historic town, but one that’s been forgotten by Europeans, who are drawn to the States’ coastal cities. But on my quest to discover the secrets this old town holds, I found a truly luxurious hideaway in the Chase Park Plaza.
Location **** 4/5
St Louis is less of a single city and more a collection of them. While you will need a car – or to get overly familiar with the Uber/Lyft apps – The Chase is perfectly situated by one of our favorite parts of the city. It’s on the same block as the Central West End district: a quaint, beautiful area full of bars, restaurants and boutiques interspersed with traditional, Midwestern houses. It’s the perfect place to spend a long, lazy, hazy Missourian summer afternoon.
Check out Brennan’s for bourbon and burgers, while Bar Louie does some of the best pasta this side of Italy. The hotel also sits on the edge of Forest Park. At about 15 square miles, the park is the largest in any city in the US – larger even than Central Park. Within the park sits The Muny Theatre, two museums, an exceptional zoo and much more. Luckily, all can be comfortably reached on foot over the course of a weekend.
The hotel’s also a short cab ride from The Grove, the beating heart of St Louis’ LGBTI community. It’s a slightly longer affair from downtown and the out-of-town malls – reaching the former costs about $20 (£15.90/17.25EUR), the latter nearer $30 (£22.79/25.87EUR). However, as there’s no spot in the city that’s perfectly paced for everything, we think The Chase does quite well indeed.
LGBTI life ***** 5/5
As noted above, The Chase lies fairly close to the center of LGBTI life in St Louis. However, as with most progressive cities, we’re not confined to a gay ghetto. Though not the official St Louis village, the Central West End is an incredibly progressive area, and you’ll find a number of pride flags (spot the hybrid St Louis/rainbow flag for extra points) dotted throughout.
The Grove, a thriving hub of LGBTI life (and filled with more queer spaces than you’d expect from a comparatively small city) is all of about a $6 cab ride away. Rehab was our favorite – a cavernous bar with a huge outside area, handsome bar staff and well-priced wine. What more could you ask for?
Food ***** 5/5
I’m constantly surprised and delighted at just how well our American cousins do breakfast, and The Chase is no exception. The buffet is a treat – we particularly enjoyed the eggs Benedict and the breakfast enchiladas are divine. The breakfast bread pudding (who knew that was a thing?) with creme anglaise made the perfect breakfast dessert course. We didn’t sample dinner while we were there, but if it’s half as good as the breakfast, you probably won’t to eat anywhere else.
Design/Room **** 4/5
The Chase is everything you expect from a high-end American hotel. It’s not chic; it’s better. The Chase is comfortable. Luxuriously, indulgently comfortable. It’s a thoroughly modern version of the sort of hotel that would’ve appeared in the original version of Dynasty (not the ‘trendy’ reboot).
The suites are cavernous or, as my travel buddy remarked, ‘bigger than my entire flat!’ They are. And sumptuously appointed. But, for those of us on a regular budget, the standard rooms are more than sufficient. Perhaps less commodious, but you could still fit the inhabitants of a very large American SUV into it, should you wish. The most important feature of any hotel room is, of course, the bed and nowhere does a hotel bed like the USA. Were St Louis not such an appealing city, I would have willingly spent my entire trip in the bed, which says all you need to know.
Service and amenities ***** 5/5
Let’s start with amenities first. Because there are lots of them. For a start, there are three restaurants to service all of your culinary requirements. But, as we’ve already talked food, let’s talk about everything else The Chase has to offer.
The sporting facilities are first class. For a start, the hotel’s gym is bigger than at least two of the branches of a popular chain gym in London. It’s huge and well-stocked, meaning you can work off some of the multiple servings of breakfast (because no one just goes up to a buffet once, do they?). There’s a glorious outdoor pool, which is more than big enough to get some proper laps in.
It’s not heated, so swimming’s definitely a summer-only activity. But even when the water’s not warm enough for a dip, the pool area is perfect for lounging and taking Real Housewives of St Louis-type pictures.
There’s also a full-service spa and a movie theater serving up the latest releases and buckets of popcorn the size of a medium-sized baby.
Overall: **** 4/5
Typically, a standard suite at The Chase costs between $259- $279 (£196.66 – £211.84/223.33 – 240.57 EUR) per night, based on two people sharing. Guests have complimentary access to the pool and gym. Find out more and book your stay here.