Nestled in the middle of the Clayton area of St. Louis, there stands an inn. Quaint and romantic, Seven Gables Inn is picturesque amidst businesses, restaurants and tall buildings, sitting proudly as a crowning jewel of the neighborhood who some call “mini St. Louis.” Built in 1926, during the revival of Tudor-style architecture, the Inn was originally a building consisting of 27 apartments, four offices and four storefronts. It is one of very few buildings left in the area that represents the development of Clayton in the 1920s. The ivory stucco and wood exterior is charmingly English, and is still beckoning curious passersby to come inside and check it out.
Through the double glass doors of this upscale hotel and immediately to the right, is an espresso bar serving classic Italian espresso drinks, gourmet snacks, and delicious pastries. To the left, separated from the espresso bar by a four-foot wood partition, is some of Dolce’s inside seating and the restaurant’s full-service bar. The Deco tile extends onto this dining floor as well, creating whimsical patterns of three-foot circles that swirl beneath white stone tables and brown leather chairs. This compilation of styling sets the stage for something only Miami, and really, only the Gale, can pull off.
Off the main thoroughfare, and into a more quiet neighborhood, the sounds of a two-man island-style band can be faintly heard, beckoning curious wanderers to wander in to relax and enjoy the sounds, the atmosphere, and the Cuban cuisine. The Riviera Hotel South Beach consists of three buildings in the Art Deco style that's consistent up and down South Beach. Painted white on the outside, the walls are curved, and the floor tile is made of jewel tones flecked with stones. The varied colored tile begins and ends sporadically, creating beautiful abstract shapes -- a masterpiece of timeless 40s art.
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“Do you love what you do?” we asked. “You have to . . . to really do it well,” Executive Chef Rex Hale said, smiling. Between intervals of purposed movement, he would come and sit calmly with us in the restaurant Basso. There was a passionate energy about him that reminded you to really focus on the flavors you were experiencing. As Executive Chef for all the restaurants at The Cheshire, a boutique hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, it is this man’s pride in his work, his love for all things taste, and deep passion for his craft, that are the constant undercurrents of his confident and calming presence. They are the impetus that keep the engine of the entire operation running magnificently.
I was about to board a nonstop flight in April 2016 from San Francisco to St. Louis, when I got a call from my mom. She was thinking about heading back to work on a project an hour south of St. Louis that we had been working on together for several months. She wanted me to come back with her--the next day. At that point I had been gone for 13 days. Before I made it to the Bay Area, I was at a wedding in Chicago, and before the wedding in Chicago, I was working with her on the project. My largest suitcase was packed for cold and warm weather, and with formal, beach and business clothing.
When we arrived at the tall brick building there was anticipation of two things--seeing our best friends, and getting water. Fast. July, 2016 was hot, and Oklahoma heat is even hotter. When we walked under the canopy and into the doors of The Ambassador, cool swept over us. With eyes adjusting, a sigh of relief gave way for us to take in the luscious lobby before us. The Mediterranean style was inviting, even understanding of the heat, with beautiful whites and neutrals seeming to say “come sit down and cool off a bit.”
Hotel Vandivort’s rich history and a rich interior are drawing both travellers and locals through it’s doors, and stunning both every time. As the first boutique hotel in Springfield, Missouri, it lives up to the hope of its name. The detail in the lobby alone is art itself. A blend of wood, stone, and metal is balanced by pops of gray, teal, and green as well as brown and black leather. Pieces of art are hung above couches, a glass fireplace is warmly lit, and pillows abound. The hotel is opulent in the coziest way.
At the turn of the 19th century, Union Station was the world’s largest and busiest train station. As you walk inside from the front entrance, you’re greeted by a double-sided staircase, leading to the floor of the Grand Hall. This is likely, hands down, one of the most ornate hotel entrances you’ll ever experienced, so just don’t trip while you’re looking up. The intricate, massive ceiling of the Grand Hall in St. Louis’s famous Union Station, was once the pinnacle of opulence. Built in 1894, it speaks of the grandeur of an era passed.