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Jun '16

Trip Report: St. Louis

It wasn’t really on my “bucket list” to revisit St. Louis, but when presented with a free shared hotel room and free evening activities all for the price of an airline ticket…got to do it. Thanks DancingBear for making me your “plus 1” at your conference.

Used a MVP Gold Guest Upgrade coupon to get a seat next to DancingBear in First Class on the way out – and a good thing I did it in advance as there were 40 people on the upgrade list when I checked in. Was in couch (albeit 6C) on the way home – being number 18 on an upgrade list of 33.

Free Digi-Player (and lunch) up front. Too bad I’ve already seen all the content I like. Maybe I’ll have to start watching the movies I don’t care about. Damn “First World” problems.

Caught Light Rail to the hotel – the Sheraton Clayton.

Honestly, the rooms could use a bit of a refresh.

I did love the shower!

But this is what I returned to AFTER the maid had done her service call:

Coffee pot to cleaned and returned to its proper place, coffee, cups, and bottled water not replaced. Ice bucket not emptied and returned to its nook. Basically the trash was emptied and the beds made – not even vacuumed. I thought it might be a fluke, but when it happened the second day I went down to the front desk as ask for the day manager. Brought Jeremy back to the room to show him the situation, and mentioned that this was the second day of lackluster maid service. He promised a fix and an hour and a half later I got a call that the room was ready – even saw what I assumed was the housekeeping manager (clipboard gave it away) checking on the room. And though I didn’t ask for it, Jeremy comped one of our nights. Thanks Jeremy – but you also might want to retrain some of your staff.

So the Sheraton Clayton is, you guessed it, in Clayton, which is the county seat for St. Louis County which, oddly, doesn’t contain the city of St. Louis which is an independent city. Being the county set, the hotel was surrounded by courthouses, legal offices, and more shoe repair, jewelry, tailors than you might expect from a small downtown. Also, plenty of good food:

Shrimp Tempura Bento Box at Wasabi (Japanese).

Beef Salad at the Blue Elephant (Thai).

Sliders and a cup of the White Bean Chili at John P. Fields (American).

And let’s not forget this cool wine shop called The Wine Merchant:

A ton of space (including upstairs offices and tasting room), and a wonderful friendly knowledgeable staff. I felt bad for just picking up a bottle of the regular Four Roses – we only seem to get the “small batch” on the west coast.

Met up with DancingBear back at the hotel for the first shared evening event – BASEBALL! But first we have to all meet up at Knight Hall, part of the Olin Business School at Washington University.

The atrium area of Knight Hall is stunning – I love the amphitheater/stairs combination:

We all piled into two motor coaches for the ride to Cardinal Stadium (technically Busch Stadium). Our driver took on the scenic route (passed signs that said no tour busses) which included Millionaire’s Row. Lots of nice brick/stone work left in the city:

This is the Magic Chef Mansion that we will be visiting tomorrow night:

And views of The Arch! DancingBear went up in The Arch the day I arrived in the late afternoon. I never made it, but I was up in it when I was a teenager, low those MANY years ago.

Just before we got to the stadium…

Of course I WOULD have to put DancingBear in front of a shop called The Fudgery.

Technically we weren’t IN the stadium, but across a small street in the ATT Roof Top Deck. We had wrist bands to get us into the park if we wanted – I didn’t, didn’t notice anyone else go either. Why go when there is a free (and GOOD) buffet with four lanes and a dessert lane with a chafing dish full of bread pudding. Since it was also an open bar, for dessert I had them put a splash of Evan Williams on mine. Yes, that would be one of the MANY free Evan Williams and Diet Coke – can’t believe my favorite everyday Bourbon is their Bourbon pour:

But there was lots of cook food, and some questionable Midwestern food:

And the aforementioned “questionable Midwestern food”:

Yes, that would be a Rice Krispies ball mounts on a chocolate-dipped waffle cone.

But it’s really about the view – I mean the ball game. Let’s start with the entrance – a huge mural made up from broken apart Rubik’s Cubes:

And the view from our two-level venue:

What a fun evening! What a fun game. I had be root for the Cubs because of Barb (my cruise travel agent) – and they whipped the Cardinals. 6 runs in the First Inning, Cardinals finally scored 2 in the Ninth Inning, final score 9-2.

The next evening’s adventure was at the Magic Chef Mansion (picture up several screens). But here are some interior and group shots. Headed towards the main house.

I mostly hung out at the bar since it was an “awards ceremony” that was much less interesting than an open bar and a chatty bartendress. Note the black table near the back door of the main house.

Said bartendress:

Speaking of the main house, a shot from the library:

And talk about “man cave”, complete with bowling alley:

Belt-driven machine shop:

Pinball machines:

And, of course, a full bar…

But my favorite shot is from the bathroom that was originally part of the maid’s quarters…talk about uni-sex bathroom:

The owner bought the place in the mid-90s for $450,000, but just putting a slate roof on the stables (the event space) cost her $150,000 – lord knows what the rest of the renovations cost – I’m guessing well north of what she paid for the house.

Our return ride was in a stripper limo – only thing missing was the stripper pole!

Our final afternoon in St. Louis it was time to take the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour!

But not before a quick U-Turn when DancingBear spotted a Tasty Cake Outlet Store – not for him, but a work buddy.

When we finally made it to the brewery, there was plenty to do and see:

First stop is the stables – dating from the early 1900s – and home to the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales.

Nice digs for those ponies (they get several hours of grooming daily) – and now for the brewery tour:

And that phrase, “Beechwood Aging” turns out to be true!

Even the brewery has classy fixtures:

A free mini-beer – choice of Bud or Bud Light (though they’d just blown the Bud keg when it was our turn), and then a full-size beer at the end of the tour – with a wide selection from the InBev catalog (they own Anheuser-Busch these days. I went for the Stella Artois Cidré.

After our tour, and a little lunch for DancingBear, it was off to the airport and more specifically, the Admirals Club Lounge for drinks, soup, snacks – not the level of the Alaska Board Room, but free with my reciprocal membership.

For the return flight – DancingBear was up front in Seat 1F…

And me just behind the curtain in Seat 6C…

Another trip down after a shared Uber from the airport, dropping me off in South Park.


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