Feb 12, 2014

Scenes from the Cheshire Inn, Saint Louis

To say the Cheshire Inn & Lodge has character is an understatement.  In fact, in the Richmond Heights/Clayton neighborhood of Saint Louis, it stands out because of its uniqueness.  After all, you don’t find a hotel complex masquerading as a British hunting lodge just anywhere in “the Lou.”    

That said, the Cheshire isn't the first landmark of note when you get off Interstate 64 at Clayton Road to head to Forest Park (home of the Saint Louis Zoo and other attractions).  

No, it’s the world’s largest Amoco sign still in existence.  Don’t worry; you can see it from the interstate.

Smile, Kent!

My friend Kent invited me to stay at the Cheshire Inn with him last spring when we went to Saint Louis to see the Black Crowes in concert at the Pageant, a great concert venue I touched upon in my previous blog post.  As the crow flies (or in my case, as the CR-V drives), the Pageant and the restaurant and bar scene along Delmar Boulevard are only about a mile north of the Cheshire – just a short drive past Forest Park and up Skinker Boulevard.  It’s really a nice and convenient location, although a little driving or a short cab ride may is involved to get you from Point A to Point B.   

A stuffed bear greets lobby guests.
Everything about the Cheshire Inn & Lodge says traditional British inn.  The lobby and rooms are inundated with antique furniture, English décor, stuffed animals and themed art pieces.  If it all wasn't so truly British, it might be gaudy. 

Each room is also an original, named and decorated after a famous British author.  Our room was just off the main lobby and past the elevators – the Henry Fielding Room. 

Just a little bedside reading -- maybe 800 pages or so?
They even provide a copy of a famous piece of literature by your room’s namesake for your reading pleasure; however, I have a hard time believing anyone would stay here long enough – and especially stay in their room long enough – to read “Tom Jones” in its entirety. 

Although the hotel is, in fact, a historic property dating back to the 1920s, a major renovation in 2011 ensures guests enjoy some very nice modern amenities.  I don’t think Henry Fielding ever slept on a bed this comfy, for instance.   

Looks like I've found the right place!
One other very British attraction Kent and I took full advantage of after the concert was the Fox and Hounds Tavern, located inside the inn. 

Quaint, charming, old school
The ambiance made it easy to sit down, unwind and just fully enjoy a flavorful beverage.  And really, that’s what you really want in a good old-fashioned bar anyway.  Plus, to be honest, for a hotel bar, the drinks, the prices and the service were all impressive.  The pub menu also looked intriguing (and quite British), but unfortunately we did not get back to the tavern in time to try anything.   

I liked them so much I didn't have the heart to place my Newcastle beer on them.
We sat, of course, at the bar, which featured these interesting little caricatures on tiles inlaid into the surface.  It was kind of like having your own permanent coaster at every seat. 


Kent approves.
While at the bar, we had a good talk with the waiter during a short lull while business was slow about the concert we had just seen and other bars we crawled through while on Delmar.      

However, in the true British style, other seating options had their own merits.  For a time, a group of about a dozen had congregated by the stone fireplace. 

And couples took turns drinking in the few intimate short booths that were available.  We didn't see a chess game break out, though. 

A few more things about the Cheshire Inn & Lodge’s amenities:  The complimentary onsite parking is a definite plus.  The free continental English breakfast, served by the lobby, helps you start your day off right.  They also have a complimentary evening tea, which we skipped to get to our show.  If I stay here again during warmer weather, I wouldn't mind chilling one afternoon by the pool area which is adjacent to the tavern (poolside drinks!).  

There are also three more dining options on site.  We tried one – Basso – after learning the Fox and Hounds kitchen was closed.  The vibe is that of a spacious Italian gastro pub/discotheque located in a basement.  Maybe we just weren't prepared for it, but it all seemed like a pretty weird combination to us.  Then again, we had been drinking, were tired and a little older than the late night crowd that was partying there. 

If you book at the right time, you may find a deal for around $125-$150 a night.  You'll be splurging, however, if you opt for a luxury suite, but you'll probably find it worth it if you're looking for a romantic getaway with a special someone. 

All in all, I enjoyed my stay at the Cheshire Inn & Lodge and would recommend it both as a destination and a good starting and ending point for exploring the surrounding Saint Louis neighborhoods.  

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