Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ST. LOUIS – Embassy Suites Downtown - A nice, brand new property

My recent stay at the Embassy Suites in downtown St. Louis showed how a company dedicated to historic preservation can re-purpose old buildings while simultaneously updating them to meet the needs of the 21st century.

Traveling to St. Louis for a conference, I chose the Embassy Suites downtown at 6th and Washington for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I’m a fan of Hilton properties. As a Hilton Honors Diamond Member, I receive some additional perks and usually a little special treatment (who doesn’t like that?). Second, the room rate was more favorable than the conference hotel just a block down the street, and all Embassy Suites include breakfast, which makes my comptroller just a little happier with my expense account.

Just opened in October, this particular Embassy Suites is in a historic building that previously housed a Dillard’s department store. Black-and-white photographs throughout the property hint at the building’s previous incarnation. Being brand new, everything is state of the art and in good repair.

The building’s previous life lends luxury to its current configuration. Guest suites feature 10-foot ceilings, which give rooms a very spacious feel. The ceiling in the fourth-floor lobby/bar/restaurant is easily twice that height and provides a very dramatic setting to enjoy breakfast, a glass of wine or cocktail at the nightly manager’s reception, or just to sit and work or relax.

Staff is young but uniformly professional and generally fairly polished. Valets readily opened doors, and offered assistance and advice. Front desk personnel were friendly and helpful, and dining room attendants were quick to refill beverages and to whisk away empty plates.

The included breakfast was, in a word, predictable. The steam table featured the ubiquitous watery scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, pancakes, juices, cereal, fruit, and yoghurt. The hotel also offers a station where guests can get made-to-order omelets, freshly-prepared fried eggs (and freshly-scrambled eggs, too, for the fussy like me), and biscuits and gravy.

I was there for three nights and breakfast offerings were identical all three mornings. Consistency is fine as far as it goes, but a little variety would be welcome. Mixing it up a little – offering French toast instead of pancakes, for example, or corned beef hash instead of one of the other breakfast meats - would be nice.

The Embassy Suites is a block away from the area’s light rail, which runs all the way from Lambert Field at the west end of the line into Illinois on the east end. It's also adjacent to the Conference Plaza, America’s Center, and the Edward Jones Dome.

The only “down” side is that Embassy Suites tend to attract a lot of families with kids, especially on the weekends. I shared the hotel with a large number of giggly girls who were in town for a cheer-leading competition. They were fine and well-behaved, but they were normal kids, which is to say energetic and vocal.

If you need to be in the area of the St. Louis Convention Center, I definitely recommend the Embassy Suites.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photo by Carl Dombek
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