If the idea of sipping a Judy Jetson martini while munching Little Green Men underneath a glowing moon sends you into orbit, there’s never been a better time to blast off. For the Midwest, that is.
Yes, the American Midwest. In fact, just a moon rock’s throw west of the Gateway Arch sits one far-out earth module.
Welcome to the Moonrise Hotel.
Since landing in the trendy Delmar Loop neighborhood in April 2009 the Moonrise has welcomed tourists and business travelers alike to plush accommodations with an interplanetary twist. Owner Joe Edwards--long a forward-thinking fan of space travel and all things otherworldly--wanted to give visitors a place to land, and stay, in the often-neglected neighborhood.
After all, he’d done it before.
A St. Louis native, Edwards opened restaurant and live music venue Blueberry Hill 40 years ago. The club thrived, but the neighborhood continued to fall into disrepair. Edwards, along with other business leaders, co-founded the Loop Special Business District to encourage growth and diversity in the area. Edwards later played a role in developing the Missouri Walk of Fame, restoring the historic Tivoli movie theater, opening the Pageant concert theater and launching the popular martini and bowling hotspot, Pin-Up Bowl. Eventually the forward-thinker decided a boutique hotel would be just the ticket to give visitors a home in the neighborhood so the party could continue, and the Moonrise was born.
The 125-room Moonrise, with its pulsating light-up lobby staircase, boasts ten luxury suites, each named for a Missouri Walk of Fame celebrity. My husband and I enjoyed the Buddy Ebsen suite, complete with photos of Ebsen’s days as a Vaudeville dancer and legendary stint as Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. The suite did not disappoint. In fact, the online check-in gives the concierge (in this case, called the Manager of Desires) an idea of what you have planned for your getaway. I mentioned that our trip was an early Valentine’s celebration and we were greeted with a fresh rose petal peace sign artfully displayed on our king size bed, wishing us love and peace for our occasion.
Resisting the urge to tear into the champagne and strawberries right off the bat, we headed to the bar at the Eclipse Restaurant. On this Saturday night the building that once housed a funeral home hosted a very-much-alive mix of young and young-at-heart, happy and vibrant in their laughter and conversation. The music mix was fantastic in its appeal to audiences of all ages. I wore out my iPhone’s Shazaam app scoping out artists like Beach House, Desmond and the Tutus, Bibio, and Dressy Bessy that were perfectly mixed with nostalgic standards from Nancy Sinatra and the Isley Brothers. The ambiance made me feel both comfortable and daring, and despite the bar’s array of Missouri-brewed draft beers I was inspired to indulge in something new. Out of sheer curiosity I ordered the Bacon & Eggs Fizz from the cocktail menu. Think frothy whiskey sour, made with bacon-infused bourbon, citrus, molasses and egg whites. It was delicious.
As for non-liquid delicacies, my husband--who lives for hot wings--couldn’t resist the Return of the Little Green Men appetizer: Fried frog legs with homemade hot sauce and grainy mustard. I opted for the waiter’s suggestion, the Wild Mushroom Soup. It was thick with smoked Gouda and bacon and I scraped the bowl clean. As a main course, we shared the Hunter’s Duck Loaf with citrus sauce. My husband prefers a more traditional meatloaf, but foodies like me will likely enjoy the tangy twist on this comfort food classic.
For dessert the Moonrise specializes in . . . wait for it . . . Moon Pies. Homemade graham crackers topped with marshmallow and chocolate ganache. On this night, however, another dessert stole the show: Banana Bread Donuts with Bacon Caramel Dipping Sauce. We opted for this, and never looked back. Dipped in the warm, buttery caramel with bits of real bacon, these gems are nothing short of sublime. The dessert platter comes with a soup spoon for good reason. I unabashedly polished off the remainder of the buttery sauce as though I would never eat again. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of and if these donuts show on my hips forever I’ll wear them proudly.
Besides the fun and flash, the Moonrise prides itself in being eco-friendly. In warmer months guest can lounge outdoors at the solar-powered roof bar, underneath the Moonrise’s iconic rotating moon. Staffers are happy to show off the hotel’s electric car charging station, point out the restaurant’s emphasis on cooking with locally-grown food, and tout its open door policy for pets--staff will walk Fido any time of the day or night, at the guest’s request. The Moonrise even takes part in the Global Soap Project where barely-used bars are sanitized and re-purposed for use in Africa, Haiti and other parts of the developing world.
The Moonrise offers convention and meeting space (The Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 Conference Rooms), a fitness center, and rooftop yoga classes in warm weather. Be sure to chat up the Manager of Desires. You’ll hear stories about guests requesting everything from midnight manicures and full vegan in-room dinners to scavenger hunts and marriage proposals. Repeat guests and "Your Desires" guest program members may find electronic picture frames loaded with photos plucked from their Facebook pages, rooms stocked with their favorite snacks and music, or even mini Moon Pies on their pillow at bedtime.
It’s all about fun, comfort, and everything your heart desires. Whether you’re touching down for a conference or docking for a long weekend, the Moonrise may be the brightest shooting star in the St. Louis hotel galaxy.