Six amazing new hotels for epic weekend getaways from KC
WORDS Martin Cizmar, Mary Henn, Rob Henrichs, Natalie Torres Gallagher
PHOTOGRAPHY Zach Bauman, Josh Beecher, Caleb Condit, Rebecca Norden
St. Louis, MO
Book the Look
St. Louis’ Angad Arts Hotel is one of the most unique in the country.
Walk down the hallway on the first floor of the Angad Arts Hotel in St. Louis and you’ll see pages of poetry hanging from the walls.
The pages are from Quarantine Chronicles by St. Louis poet Jared C. Lewis, who started writing a poem a day in March 2020, including a piece called “Let’s See Where This Goes,” which was all too prescient: “so what comes next/is for the spirits to know/but I know in my gut/it’s just the beginning so.”
But it’s also just the beginning for Angad Arts Hotel, which opened at the end of 2018 and was just starting to get recognized by publications like USA Today when the pandemic hit.
Even by the standards of an arts hotel—the category of boutique lodging with gallery spaces and surprising details—the Angad is one of the most unique in the country.
“Our front is in the back and our bottom is at the top,” says Vanessa Rudloff, the staffer who selects pieces for the galleries around the hotel. “Everything is upside down and backward. We are definitely an arts hotel.”…
The ‘Half’ Way
In the heart of Tulsa’s Arts District, a former flophouse has blossomed into a boutique hotel.
There’s a sign in the window of the dive bar below Tulsa’s newish 21 1/2 Boutique Hotel that says “YOU DON’T KNOW S*** ABOUT TULSA.”
It comes off a little aggro as you’re walking past a pub with Christmas lights on the ceiling and into the type of hipster hotel with pictures of shaggy-headed Scottish Highland cows on the wall. But if you pop into that bar, called Caz’s, a friendly bartender will explain that it’s just sort of true—and she’d be happy to answer most questions you have about Oklahoma’s second city, which surprises a lot of people who don’t think of it as an oasis of arts and culture.
That hotel you’re staying at? She used to party there—pretty much every bartender in town lived or partied there during the years it was called the Boston Apartments, the name still stamped in cement above the stairs you take up to your room, where you’ll check in using a code emailed to you at this lobby-less operation. In its apartment era, the building was full of “service industry kids” who all agreed it was “haunted as f***.”
These days, the dozen rooms are mini-suites that still resemble pre-war apartments, with wide galley kitchens and large windows overlooking the streets below. You may not be able to get the TV remote to work, but there are wooden candelabras, a full fridge and ornamental ceramic bowls you could theoretically use for cereal.
The building’s owner, Davis Sharp, owns a large swath of Tulsa’s Arts District and is a “building hugger” who tries to keep as many original details as possible, says manager Kimberly Honea. These downtown apartments were originally marketed to railway workers. Sharp kept what he could intact, which is why they have the original massive cast iron sinks big enough to bathe a baby…
The Gemstone of Blackstone
All things Jazz Age are roaring back, and you can see it in the design of hotel projects like Omaha’s Cottonwood Hotel.
Opened in 1916 as the Blackstone Hotel, the Cottonwood Hotel has hosted John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Serving as the place to stay on the route from San Francisco to Chicago, the hotel remained popular through the 1970s before the building was renovated to become a downtown office space. The two hundred-room hotel reopened with a refreshed design and new owners in late 2020 after a $75 million renovation.
The renovation was inspired in part by Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, and those touches show in the period-appropriate solarium that overlooks the new pool deck and front lawns that can extend Gatsbian get-togethers…
Stonecutters of Springfield
An upscale hotel in downtown Springfield was built by Freemasons.
Natalie Torres Gallagher
Springfield’s Hotel Vandivort was originally a Masonic Temple, and you’ll see evidence of that in the glorious crown molding, iron pillars and the Masonic initiation coins on display in the library. Brothers John and Sam McQueary, who own the hotel, are natives with deep local roots, and you can see that in their approach to the four-story property, which honors the 1906 building’s history while making space for original works by contemporary Springfield artists.
In the eighties, the building was converted into office space (though the original Masonic ballroom was left intact). But don’t worry—you won’t find any outdated wood paneling here. The lobby is designed to impress. Mixed materials—hardwood floors inlaid with light hexagon tiles, sumptuous leather seating for the tables made from reclaimed local oak—make a bold statement.
In 2019, the McQuearys added a forty-eight room expansion dubbed “V2” just a few yards from the main building. The rooms match the mood of the hotel: clean, comfortable and brimming with warm details like record players and vintage vinyl that’s ready for you to spin while you get ready for your evening. Sing along to Neil Diamond as you enjoy the floor-to-ceiling views of downtown Springfield, but know that the best panorama can be found at Vantage, the ritzy rooftop lounge crowning the building. Here, grasping one of the bar’s signature drinks (the Pearfection features brown butter-infused tequila), you can take in the jigsaw pattern of buildings that have sprung up over the city’s history while the sun sinks beneath the Ozark skyline…
Excelsior Springs, MO
Head in the Clouds
Sleep among the stars in a tree house in Excelsior Springs.
At the end of 2018, Melissa and Beau Claridge bought two hundred acres of untouched land just ten minutes southeast of downtown Excelsior Springs. “There was nothing here other than the barn and that little farmhouse, which was a long-term rental and still is,” Melissa says.
Also on the property is a fifteen-acre lake, prime for fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding. When Melissa and Beau purchased the property they now call Sundance Ranch, they had a vision of building a tree house deep in a scenic part of the woods. And while they originally built it for their own family, they now rent the tree house to those wanting to escape into the wilderness.
The Robbers Roost Tree House is nestled among oak and sycamore trees, and a clear stream flows just beside it. At night, fairy lights illuminate the entire tree house and two bridges that cross over the stream to a cozy fire pit area…
Flint Hills, KS
History in the Hills
The historic Elgin Hotel will transport you back in time with its Victorian-era antiques and charm.
In the middle of the Flint Hills is the small town of Marion, and in the middle of Marion is the Elgin, a historic hotel. The Elgin is a three-story limestone building that was commissioned in 1885 and built a year later to stimulate an economic boom. It proved to be more symbolic of the small town’s aspirations than its achievements. But the Elgin is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been given a new life thanks to current owners Jeremy and Tammy Ensey, who purchased the property in July 2016.
While the windows and the limestone building itself are the only original attributes that remain intact, The Enseys restored some of the Elgin’s original Victorian charm by replacing many of the furnishings with antiques and replica items. Prior to the Enseys purchasing the property, its previous owners, Jim and Nancy Cloutier, spent almost two million dollars renovating the hotel’s interior to what it might have looked like in the late 1800s with dark woodwork, stained glass, transom windows, chandeliers, and more. “It was their [The Cloutier’s] vision to restore it,” Tammy says. “And then it became our vision to run it.”…
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