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Ritz Carlton St. Louis
100 Carondolet Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63105
Both of us are huge fans of the Ritz-Carlton brand. How could you not be? When thereís a Ritz-Carlton in a town or city, itís usually the best hotel around in terms of amenities, service, and overall experience. The Ritz at Lake Las Vegas is not only one of our favorite hotels in Sin City but one of our favorite hotels period.

So we had high expectations for the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis and on most counts the hotel scored very high marks but not all of them.

The hotel is located west of the main part of the city, near the government center if that means anything to you, in an appropriately ritzy (in an old moneyed kind of way) neighborhood. Itís not terribly close to things like the St. Louis Arch but it is a fairly straight shot down a nearby freeway to the heart of the riverfront so if traffic isnít backed up you could probably do it in 15 minutes. Thereís also a metro station right across the street if you are depending upon public transportation.

The public areas of the hotel are typical Ritz-Carlton and we mean that in a good way. Dark wood, heavy antique furnishings, formally plush furniture, floral arrangements, and random vases are everywhere. Itís the kind of room that will make you feel completely out of place if you show up in a pair of camouflage cargo shorts and a baseball cap (Rick is just guessing here).

On site are three restaurants (with more just a few steps away), a lobby lounge, a cigar club, a wine room, a fitness center with a sauna and an indoor pool, a sun deck, and more.

The rooms themselves are also typically Ritz, with luxurious but understated furnishings (comfortable chairs, sturdy desks and nightstands), big bathrooms with all the plush amenities, and high thread count linens on the cushy beds. Each has a balcony, robes, high-speed Internet, in-room safe, and a mini-bar just to name a few.

We stayed in a one-bedroom suite that came with an extra bathroom and a convertible sofa but thatís where our issues started. Mary gave Rick the bed because it was his birthday but wanted to have the sofa made up with the down comforters and mattress as she has had done at other Ritz-Carltons but this turned out to be a bigger challenge than it shouldíve been. Even though we had asked ahead of time for this arrangement, it still took several phone calls and repeated instructions to the maid before we got even close to what we were looking for. And even then, Mary had to redo it herself.

Then after checking out, we were surprised with a $20 tab for self-parking in the adjacent garage even though when we pulled in there were no obvious signs, no tickets to take, no attendants, and other cars going in and out without compunction. Getting the $20 charge set aside was a silly ordeal that took a lot longer than it should have for a hotel that charges the kind of rates this one does. Granted we probably spent more time trying to get it set aside than we should have but it had become a matter of principal at that point and Rick is a stubborn mule even when he isnít full of righteous indignation.

The point of all this is that service Ė usually the hallmark of the Ritz-Carlton Ė was underwhelming here. Perhaps we just caught them on a busy holiday weekend.

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