February 26, 2020

A first look inside downtown's Live! by Loews Hotel, a destination for baseball lovers

There are countless baseball Easter eggs waiting to be found around the hotel—enough to keep guests busy until opening day, at least.

Ballpark Village's newest property shows that the oldest sport in St. Louis can be just as much about plush, pinstriped cushions as it is about hard stadium seats and bourbon. 

Live! by Loews (799 Clark) is a luxury, eight-story, 216-room hotel that sits adjacent to Ballpark Village on the corner of Clark and Eighth, offering fans top-notch views of the stadium and instant access to game day entertainment. Created in partnership with the St. Louis Cardinals and The Cordish Companies, the hotel is part of Ballpark Village's $260 million expansion project and is the second-ever property of its kind to open in the country—its first was in a sports entertainment district in Arlington, Texas, that's home to the Rangers baseball team.

No two Loews hotels look alike, and in this case, HKS Architects Hospitality Studio wanted to “really understand the importance of baseball and the Cardinals to the community and weave that into a luxury hotel experience,” says Geneya Sauro, the hotel's general manager. Seeking inspiration, the HKS design team took an in-depth tour of the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum and incorporated their study of local baseball history into the hotel’s design and architecture in ways that are both obvious and superbly subtle.

This becomes apparent as soon as guests enter the lobby, though it helps if they're familiar with Cardinals lore. The numbers on the check-in pods at reception might seem random to the untrained eye, but baseball fans will immediately pick them out as the retired numbers of Cardinals legends: Enos Slaughter (9), Tony LaRussa (10), Dizzy Dean (17), Whitey Herzog (24) and Bob Gibson (45). A series of art pieces spread across each floor of the hotel and depict various iterations of the “birds on the bat” logo seen on Cardinals jerseys. “The Dugout,” a library full of baseball memorabilia, brings the museum straight to guests.

Some of the references might go unnoticed except by die-hard aficionados. Others are buried in code, such as one large red art installation in front of the elevators that are made up of patterns generated from Cardinals statistics. The terrazzo floor in the hotel lobby has a feature called “Traces of the Past” that depicts blueprints of both old and new Busch Stadium. The designs overlap to reflect the respective footprints of each stadium—in fact, Loews sits atop the foundation of the old ballpark. A similar, yet more illustrative design can be found on the wall behind the headboards in the guest rooms, and visitors will see references to the old Busch Stadium and its 97 iconic arches throughout the hotel.

Materials throughout pay homage to the game on an acute sensory level, from the delicate, red stitching on the furniture. The material covering the corridor walls is even meant to feel like a baseball. Another ball reference can be found in the “living room,” adjacent to the first-floor restaurant Clark & Bourbon, where overhead lamps are decorated with shades meant to emulate a vintage, dark cowhide leather. In the guest rooms, a powder blue desk chair references the iconic “victory blue” jersey that the Cardinals re-introduced last year, a callback to a color worn as early as the 1940s and then again in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

In its entirety, the property calls upon imagery of St. Louis’ warehouse district, using exposed blackened brick and steel, while each guest room gives off an airy, minimal elegance. Each of the hotel's 19 suites boasts a balcony, with some putting guests at eye level with the Busch Stadium logo. Views are also enviable on the second floor, where the event spaces open out onto The Terrace, an expansive deck that looks over Ballpark Village. The vantage point doesn’t afford a view into the stadium itself, but guests can grab a drink and a spot on the deck’s lawn to watch a game on the giant screen. Broadcasting from a direct feed from Busch Stadium, the screen is the first of its kind in the country. “You can't get any closer to Busch Stadium than we are,” says Sauro.

There are countless other Easter eggs waiting to be found around Loews—enough to keep guests busy until opening day, at least.

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