According to its website, St. Louis’ Union Station was once the largest, busiest rail terminal in the world. The station ceased passenger service in 1978 and sat lifeless until a massive renovation converted it into a downtown shopping and dining landmark in 1985. It doesn’t seem as though the exterior has been touched up since the restoration, and indoors, we were hoping to find more character as far as stores and restaurants go.
The meticulously restored Grand Hall, now the lavish lobby of a 539-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (rates from $149), blew us away. Displays in the lobby peek into the space’s lively history. Each guest gets a chocolate chip cookie from staff at the check-in counter. We had to haul our luggage quite a distance to get to our room, but when we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised by the old-style wood accents. Our accommodations were spacious, and the comfy king bed provided a great night’s sleep.
Other Union Station hotspots include Landry’s Seafood House and the Hard Rock Cafe, both positioned outdoors around a not-so-pristine manmade lake. The indoor food court offers typical shopping mall prospects like Sbarro, Subway and Panda Express. The Station Grille is the one dining standout; it's a historical white-tableclothed establishment that’s been around since the rail terminal’s heyday.
If you’re seeking a chic shopping experience, go somewhere else. There isn’t much here that you can’t find at the average shopping mall. It’s a bit of a shame that such a massive treasure is filled with mostly uninspiring places.