In 1904 the world arrived at St. Louis’ doorstep. That was the year of the World’s Fair as well as the Olympics; two events that had incredible repercussions not only on the city, but the world as well. This is where the ice cream cone was first introduced and where the coffee maker was presented to a curious public. It was an exciting time to be in St. Louis for sure, and it all happened in the still-beautiful (and massive) Forest Park. That’s also the neighborhood where one of the city’s best hotels is located, .
As part of my partnership with The Ritz-Carlton, I visited several cities around the country to learn more about the local communities as well as The Ritz-Carlton hotels that call these cities home. It was an eye-opening experience but nowhere did I enjoy myself more than I did in St. Louis.
So, the chef at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis took pity on me. She knew that my time in town was exceptionally brief but that I also wanted to try as many iconic St. Louis foods as possible and so she thoughtfully put together a special dinner highlighting the best bites of the city. While not all of these items are offered at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis on a regular basis, the skill and artistry of the culinary team is always present and I can say without a doubt that my food experiences at the hotel are amongst the best I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Some of the foodie highlights I sampled over the course of a very generous dinner included:
- Classic provel cheese pizza (Ordered out from Imo’s of course)
- Toasted ravioli
- An amazing steak self-cooked by diners on heated salt rocks
- That creamy Ted Drewes custard that in large part defines the St. Louis dessert experience
What is on the menu at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis that you can enjoy every day (and should are): St. Louis pretzel bites, fried ravioli, Schlafly beer BBQ burgers and many other dishes inspired by the local culinary scene.
The friendliest hotel I have ever visited
Ok, so the hotel knew I was coming and they knew that I’d be writing about them. But that doesn’t matter, because from my many experiences with The Ritz-Carlton around the world I know for a fact that they look at service and hospitality in a way totally unlike any other luxury hotel. I first described this phenomenon in a post I wrote about my experience in Chengdu, China. The Ladies & Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton are given budgets and encouraged to practice random acts of kindness for guests. It can be anything really, from helping a guest replace a lost or forgotten item, or delivering a small treat to someone who has had a bad day. It’s a wonderfully institutionalized way to surprise and delight their guests, and is a service trait I once again enjoyed in St. Louis. Upon checking in, staff noticed that my much-beloved carry-on roller bag had lost a wheel. It was still functional, sort of, but it was in a sorry state. I really didn’t think about it, but after returning to my room from dinner I was in for a surprise. There on my bed was a brand new piece of luggage along with a note saying that they hoped this gift would help me better navigate those many airports I patronize on a regular basis. That’s amazing. That’s service and hospitality on a level I have never before seen. Ultimately, the cost to them was not great but the effects are amazing. They have a loyal customer for life, all because of that simple act of kindness. And in case you’re thinking they did it just because they knew I’d write about it, you’re wrong. They do things like this all the time for guests around the world and it’s an important kindness-based sense of hospitality that absolutely sets The Ritz-Carlton apart from every other hotel and luxury brand out there.
Aside from the gifts, everyone I met at effused Midwest charm and kindness that was refreshing to experience. As a classic Type-A Easterner, I forget that not everyone is as sarcastic and surly as we are. I forget that huge swathes of the country are full of nice, good-hearted people who really do care when they ask how your day is going. I loved feeling that way again and for that I am very grateful to The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis.
Located in the suburb of Clayton, from the Club Level Lounge I enjoyed a stunning view of the St. Louis skyline on a hazy summer’s evening. Next door is Forest Park and I quickly realized that the best of everything in the region was easy to reach. The airport is a 15-minute drive and getting into the heart of St. Louis couldn’t have been easier, another fast and easy Uber ride away. But it’s Forest Park that really captured my heart, for all the right reasons. Before arriving, I had asked The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis to help me with some ideas of what to do. Our lists were similar with one exception; they suggested that I visit the Missouri History Museum in the almost-adjacent park. When I learned that the museum has a special exhibit all about Route 66, my decision was made and I couldn’t wait to visit. Both the park and the hotel are very close to the original Route 66, part of the history of this most famous of all American roads. It’s a special connection and one honored everywhere you look, be it by the Ted Drewes custard that seems to be a citywide obsession, or the many lingering clues that remain from the Mother Road. Regardless of your interest or reason for visiting St. Louis, The Ritz-Carlton really is perfectly situated for everything you need to see and do.
While brief, my stay at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis couldn’t have been better. The often and aforementioned hospitality and kindness were the hallmarks of my visit, but so was the incredibly luxurious and comfortable room and the Club Level Lounge that is always my favorite aspect of staying with The Ritz-Carlton no matter where in world I may find myself. But there are a few other unique little aspects to that I think bear mentioning including:
- The Lobby Lounge features 200 different martini variations
- Hand-rolled sushi bar
- Private cigar club with warm leather accents and an amazing drinks and cigar menu
- Missouri Black Walnut Massage using sticks carved from locally sourced Black Walnut
It’s easy for me to see why this is one of the best loved hotels in the St. Louis metropolitan area and I for one can’t think of a better place from which to enjoy everything that America’s Gateway to the West has to offer.