You know when you’ve been traveling a lot and although you’ve seen incredible things, experienced new adventures and tasted fantastic new food, you sometimes find yourself sighing in relief as you pull into your driveway, thinking, “Ahhh, Home Sweet Home” … well, I didn’t get a chance to do that. As soon as TJ and I returned from our European adventure, I was thrown deep into the trenches of work travel with two back to back weeks of travel. We’re going to take a brief, one-week hiatus before diving back into Europe for the French leg of our trip to showcase one of my new favorite spots – the St. Paul Hotel in Wooster, OH.
Although I couldn’t quite sigh in relief of being home, I felt as close as I could get. Wooster is 10 minutes from my hometown of Orrville, OH and the team at the St. Paul Hotel was gracious enough to host me for an overnight before a work meeting at the property the following day. On a gorgeous Ohio spring Sunday afternoon (a nice contrast to the chilly rain Paris chased us out of the country with), I drove to Wooster with a week’s worth of clothes and meeting materials. I was tired before I left my house and was so fortunate to be swept up by the staff at the St. Paul. The girl that greeted me upon arrival could perhaps sense my exhaustion, because after the quickest of check-ins she walked me to my room, a long lost art of small hotels. I arrived in one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve stepped foot in in a long time, the Grand Suite. Not only is this room unique and made with local hands and materials, but it comes equipped with a fantastic shower, cozy living area and a private deck and hot tub. If I couldn’t relax at home after a long cross country trip, this was definitely the next best thing.
I want to take a moment to walk you through some of the highlights of this hotel, because if you don’t have the time to stop and discover, you might have missed some of the cool history behind the front doors. In the lobby, you find yourself next to a beautiful fireplace. The wood portion of the fireplace is reclaimed wood from a devastating possible tornado that ripped through the area in 2010 destroying portions of the nearby Ohio Agricultural and Research Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (OSU ATI). If the fireplace hasn’t caught your eye, then you’re probably looking up at the original tin ceiling, something you certainly don’t see much anymore!
In my guestroom, the living and sleeping areas are separated by a large sliding metal door. These doors were originally fire doors from the former Freedlander Department Store of downtown Wooster. This local business touched the lives of nearly everyone in Wooster and the surrounding communities. I fondly remember shopping for Father’s Day there when I was little. I was always amazed that the clerks working in the men’s section not only knew my mom, but had a little pocket sized notebook with all of my dad’s measurements. How much easier would life be if you could go into a store and not guess your partner’s sizes? In the business of customer service, this is something I so wish we still maintained. Sadly, Freedlander Department store operated as an independent, family owned department store for 105 years (1884-1989) and it finally closed its doors in 2009. The building was recently torn down.
In contrast to the re-purposed metal fire doors in the room, there is exemplary woodwork, with custom made pieces by The Schantz Organ Company of neighboring Orrville, OH. Many other items throughout the room were sourced by local businesses and the property built by local contractors and Amish workers. The hotel recently expanded and now has 16 guestrooms!
After a thorough tour of the property, I was ready to eat! Fortunately, the St. Paul Hotel is in the best location for stretching your legs, located just two blocks south of the square. Surrounding the hotel are great places to eat and shop, including H2 Wine Merchants, roomScapes (shameless plug for my family’s business!), Today’s Kitchen Store and one of our family’s favorites – City Square Steakhouse, which is where I was headed!
The next day I made my way down to the gym. If you didn’t already see this coming, you haven’t been paying attention, I love food and fitness. I have high expectations for gyms – it’s 2017! Luckily, this little hotel delivered. With full equipment and exposed brick, I felt like I was transplanted into a swanky NYC hotel. Hungry, after a long workout, I’m reminded of one of the best things about small operations – they are forced to get creative with breakfast. You either don’t serve it or you come up with something awesome. Perhaps you remember from a long time ago, the breakfast in a basket concept at the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Virginia? Anyway, I returned from the gym to find my pre-ordered continental breakfast waiting for me. This is so ideal when you’re traveling for business. I can multi-task by eating, checking email and getting ready for my day in the comforts of my own room!
With a full belly and a great night’s rest, I headed downstairs. The St. Paul Hotel hosted myself and 9 other meeting attendees, all visiting from other unique properties around the state. The boardroom on site was perfect. Catering was handled by nearby Spoon Market and the sandwiches were to die for.
I can’t thank the team from the St. Paul Hotel enough for a wonderful stay, a great meeting venue and one of the most exemplary displays of guest service I’ve experienced in a long time. For a girl that hadn’t seen her own bed in over 2 weeks, this was the perfect place to feel like I was in a Home Away from Home.
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck