Fourth Night of Road Trip... St. Louis!
This hotel stay was downright modern compared to our night before in a 240 year old inn. But The Chase is still packed with history.
Beside the Park
The red brick building on the right opened on Kingshighway, across from Forest Park in 1922. The Park Plaza was built 7 years later. The 2-building hotel bustled with stylish activity for a few more decades. Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra or Bob Hope could have been spotted at the Starlight Roof or the Zodiak Cocktail Lounge.
The lobby was buzzing with business travelers when we checked in. I didn't recognize the place at all from when my mom, brother and I checked in on a summer morning in 1975. That may be because, back then I was preoccupied with sneaking in our slobbery boxer, Ted. I'm still not sure how we did that.
I could smell movie popcorn down this hallway. It seemed a little odd that a movie theatre was taking up space in such a classy interior as this. The only theatre memories I have of The Chase are from 1977. At that time, the hotel was past its prime, but it was still the preferred hotel for celebrities. I remember spotting a number of classic, sticker covered trunks like you might associate with traveling actors. We were told Carol Channing was staying at the hotel while starring in "Hello Dolly".
Back and Forth
Don and I actually wore out these shiny floors after checking in. Our key card refused to cooperate and we couldn't work the elevator properly. When I returned to the desk for the third time, a very efficient and professional manager stepped in and apologized. He upgraded us to a suite overlooking Forest Park and then escorted us to the room.
Clean and Quiet
As we left the lobby area, it was beginning to get a little livelier, with a professional crowd flocking to the more informal bar. It made the contrast of the quiet hall and room that much nicer.
Our Bonus Space!
We kept grinning at our surprise upgrade. What a treat to have 2 spacious rooms when you weren't expecting it! The living area was open and airy with two large windows looking over the park. After a few days on the road I wanted to just spread out and enjoy the space, but there was so much to do!
I haven't been so excited about a hotel pool since I was a kid, giddy over Howard Johnson's! First of all it was a lovely afternoon for soaking in a pool. But mostly I wanted to soak up the atmosphere of this classic beauty which was completed in 1956, just in time for a live broadcast of the Miss America Pageant!
Back in the Day
It was easy to imagine bathing beauties from Texas and Georgia strutting in their high heels and one piece suits. Evidently the "parade" of scantily clad babes caused a bit of a problem, since the cars driving on Kinghighway could actually view the event!
Another Memory Surfaces
The Tenderloin Room has long been considered a classy choice for dining in St. Louis. Don and I enjoyed martinis before heading out to a cheaper dinner elsewhere. We chatted with our bartender about her grandfather who began managing the Tenderloin Room when she was a child. We chatted with another couple who lived across the street and wanted to sell us their house in Ireland. As we chatted I couldn't stop looking around and remembering one more curious memory from 1978.
I had a summer job that year, working at a residential facility for young girls. The "troubled teens" in my dorm had worked together doing odd jobs... to earn a night out at the very ritzy Tenderloin Room. I remember stressing about whether this was really a good idea, but the evening couldn't have gone better. The entire serving staff treated the girls like princesses. What a fun memory!
No Royal Treatment for Us
Don and I did not treat ourselves to a Royal dinner that night, but we did stroll on down from the hotel to the ever-hopping Central West End. It's been years since we've been in the area, but there were more cafe and bar choices than ever. I love making use of a hotel's good location!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!