As a sometime travel writer, this blogger hung out recently with the Professional Tour Guide Association of Metropolitan St Louis, www.ptgastl.org. Their bi-monthly meeting was in the "living room" of The Cheshire, www.cheshirestl.com.
A fire blazed in the hearth, the mantle was decorated with keepsakes from the original 1920's Cheshire Hotel, and English landscape paintings lined the walls. In the nearby conference room, a large oil painting of Captain Frederick Burnaby overlooked the assembled tour guides. Captain Burnaby is considered the "patron saint" of travel writers.
After our brief business meeting, the tour guides took a tour of the $11million renovation. The rooms have been completely redecorated, still with a British theme. The red phone booth now houses an ATM, the pool has been re-done with some rooms opening directly onto its patio, and the huge, stuffed grizzly bear in the lobby has been cleaned and fluffed.
The gym facility is very modern and nice; several of the mirrors in it were so large that some of us wondered how they got them into the room.Some of the suites have walk-in showers with the water can nozzle made famous by the Savoy Hotel in London, England.
The six "novelty suites" have huge soaking tubs. They include decor and books by British authors. They are named The William Shakespeare ("Romeo and Juliet"), Ian Fleming (The Bond, The James Bond series), E.M. Forster ("Passage to India"), Robert Louis Stevenson ("Treasure Island"), Agatha Christie ("Death on the Nile"), and Evelyn Waugh ("Brides-head Revisited").
Kelly Kener, Director of Sales, told the tour guides about the renovation. She said,"Phase II is in progress. At this time the planning stage includes another restuarant, bar, and event space with full catering and conference ability".
An enlarged parking footprint may also be in the works as evidenced by the concrete barriers on the St Louis City side of Oakland Avenue.The professional travel agents then convened to The Fox and Hounds Tavern. This blogger had a delicious Cheshire Burger, served with English Cheshire Cheese, a rasher of bacon, Medart's Relish, and a side of French Fries.
Others sampled "Bristol Sliders", a trio of premium lamb sliders, "Bangers and Mash", "Liverpool Wings", and "Sherwood Summer Salad". Prices ranged from $8.00-15.00. Service was prompt and attentive (the blogger requested a side of horseradish which came out quickly, even before his burger had cooled). A complete line of drinks is also available.
The Fox and Hounds Tavern appears much as it did when this blogger proposed to his first wife many years ago. Various stuffed birds, Staffordshire crockery, and ale mugs line the wainscotting. Several of the original paintings line the walls and the large comfy couch still sits in one corner.
But where was the stuffed fox that used to sit behind the bar?