So, I’m driving through St. Louis, Missouri on Route 66 looking for a place to spend the night with my 9-month old son. I wasn’t really excited about spending yet another night in a dingy roadside motel, with broken air conditioning and a busted ice machine. Fortunately, just outside St. Louis, rising like a shining mirage out of an endless desert of Super 8’s and Holiday Inn’s, was The Cheshire, a mock-tudor boutique hotel, with an identity crisis.
The British-themed hotel clearly looks out of place in St. Louis, but it’s been a fixture in STL for well over 80 years, from way back when it was just a lowly hamburger joint in the 1920’s. The Cheshire is a charming throwback to traditional British inns, complete with a cozy on-site pub. When you first walk in you’re greeted by a massive taxidermic bear, which my kid was fascinated by. In fact, the place was covered in 18th and 19th century antiques with a European flair.
When we checked in, I was totally prepared to stay in one of their standard rooms, but much to my surprise we were offered an upgrade to the “James Bond Suite.” I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and oh my god, what a treat!
From its 1960’s “modern” decor, to it’s ginormous jacuzzi tub, this room was absolutely insanely cool. Bruce, being a baby, loved the high contrast artwork that adorned the walls (which were various posters of buxom Bond babes). The room comes with a large sitting area, massive, mirrored bathroom, and a large, comfortable bed. I honestly could've spent days lounging there.
There are four on-site restaurants, Fox & Hounds (a casual, small-plate, cozy pub), the aptly-named The Restaurant (offering more upscale dining, offering over 1,700 types of wine), Basso (Italian food in a modern pub setting, specializing in pizza and beer) and The Market (a gourmet cafe).
After relaxing for the afternoon, Bruce and I ventured to the Fox & Hounds, the on-site pub. My husband is half-British, so I’m pretty well-versed in the traditional pub aesthetic. Sort of, but not really. To me, if it’s got leather chairs, dark wood, and if you can order beer by the pint, it’s good enough. Since I had my baby with me we tucked ourselves away in a corner and I pretty much ordered half the menu for dinner. Oh, a writer’s woe!
I ordered the Liverpool Wings, tossed with Newcastle Brown Ale hot sauce, the Kale, Artichoke & Smoked Bacon, which came with tortilla chips, and the Cheshire Fish & Chips, because, when in Rome… After ordering I figured I should probably get some booze to soak up all that food. So, I ordered a Wanton Arethusa, a Fairie Dust, an Afternoon Tea and a beer. Okay, these drinks were phenomenal. They deserve their own little section…
The first concoction I tried was the Wanton Arethusa. It’s described as “a fountain of flavor with Old Tom Gin, a splash of Campari, a kiss of lime and top it with a warmth of ginger beer. Truly a nectar of the gods.” It definitely made me feel like a goddess while I ate my hot wings appetizer.
After the Wanton Arethusa I was feeling a little frisky, so I ordered a Fairie Dust cocktail, which promised that I’lll “stay forever young with the effervescence of this Peter Pan inspired cocktail.” But, warned it was “not suitable for the Lost Boys.” I took that to mean that Bruce wasn’t allowed to try a sip. This delicious drink was made with Pomegranate, Absolut Vodka, and topped with Segura champagne. It paired nicely with my fish and chips.
Lastly, for a nightcap I ordered an “Afternoon Tea” which teased that it would “bring out the Cheshire cat in you.” Made with Sweet Caroline Tea Vodka, and fresh squeezed lemon with a dash of syrup. I can say with absolute fuzzy certainty, that it was awesome. I didn’t feel cat-like though, just pretty tired. So, Bruce and I retired to the James Bond suite for the evening. But, first I got a picture of my waitress, Kimmy Danilczyk, and the amazing bartender, Tim Beadle. They're from Southern California and Michigan, respectively, and they now consider The Cheshire home, and never wanna leave. After spending a fantastic evening there, I kinda don't blame them.
Overall, I give this boutique hotel a rating of 3-fingers of Glenlivet.
*3-fingers of Glenlivet out of four is a very high rating in my book. Four fingers is reserved for hotels that come with a cabana boy whose sole purpose is to massage my feet.