By Eileen Ogintz
ST. LOUIS, MO — There is a copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress on the bedside table.
That’s because we’re staying in the John Bunyan room. Down the hall is the Elisabeth Barrett Browning Room and the Agatha Christie Death on the Nile suite; every room is named for a British author from Shakespeare and including J.K. Rowling.
But we’re not in England. We’re in suburban St. Louis at the locally owned Cheshire, celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Fox and Hounds bar does a lively business; The living room-lounge reminds me of a British country hotel we recently visited—the couches, the portraits, the hanging silver. I don’t know the significance of the giant stuffed grizzly with a hole in its chest, though. “Im an interior designer and there are some really nice pieces here,” one guest told me. I of course don’t know the provenance—I just know the lobby-lounge is unlike any I’ve ever seen, complete with a portrait of Queen Victoria.
In our room there are drawings of quills and pens; there are portraits lining the halls and downstairs—I don’t really know who they are but I’m guessing British luminaries from the past.
It’s nice when so many chain hotels are the same wherever you stay that this one not only is locally owned, but affordable and memorable. People are nice here too. When someone hit our rental car in the parking lot and drove off, someone noted the license plate and called the police who left the information on our dash. Thanks, St. Louis.
My daughter’s future father-in-law said his family stayed here for his marriage many years ago; this week it seems there are many staying here who are visiting family and friends for the holidays as we are.
There’s something nice when visiting family to get away to your own space for a little while—and I’m sure our hosts are just as glad.
We managed to take in a few St. Louis sites—the wonderful free St. Louis Zoo where families were enjoying the unseasonably warm weather making faces at the monkeys, watching the baby elephants, walking under the swimming seals, getting face to face with a hippo—through the glass of course.
We ended the afternoon with a “concrete” at Ted Drewe”s (check spelling) famous custard stand along the old Route 66 and had dinner on “the hill,” St. Louis’s Italian neighborhood where Rigazzi’s was packed—we waited a half hour, even with a reservation for a hearty Italian dinner. I guess everyone was sick of holiday leftovers!
The Cheshire serves a complimentary continental breakfast and the living room- lounge atmosphere makes it easy to relax more than in a restaurant. No worries if the kids run around!