This Average Joe is on assignment in Kansas City, the American city that truly divides the East from the West in our great country, and I have been able to secure lodging at the Raphael Hotel; an American gem of a hotel that has become part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.
The Autograph hotels are not the ‘cookie cutter’ hotels of American interstate fame. No, these hotels are gems in their very own and unique way. And, my goal is too stay in all of them. This report is based on my long term stay at The Raphael.
The Lobby – A hotel’s lobby is the beginning of a long love affair with the establishment or the beginnings of a quick divorce. The Raphael Hotel lobby is the beginnings of the former. Elegantly laid out, dual chandeliers, marble floors, this is the place you want if you want to impress.
The Suites – I booked a suite. A two room unit, with a separate sleeping and living area. Never, have I wanted to throw a dinner party more than now. Spacious enough to host a party of ten, the room is elegantly decorated with an eye for the finery. Even Leona Helmsley, the celebrated Queen of Mean, would have cast an approving eye to the decor and the furnishings.
The room is equipped with an honor bar with a fine assortment of items for your late night snacking and drinking. Trust me, I tested it.
Too my surprise and delight, the bathroom was equipped with a deep tub. I admit, it was a tight fit for my fat derrière, but thrown in some salts and hot water, and I am one happy fat guy in a tub.
I did note that the road noise was noticeable in my room overlooking the Plaza. If you are in need of extreme quiet to enter your dream state, you will want to plan accordingly. I suspect this is an ongoing issue with customers as I noticed ear plugs were provided in the room. Me, I just turned on my cell phone white noise app and drifted off.
Treats and Snacks – I discovered by happenstance that the Raphael Hotel puts out treats in the evening in the lobby; hot chocolates, fruit punches, fresh baked cookies. These are delicious. For those who desire a more healthy track, a platter of fruit is laid out. Many a nights, I would succumb to these temptations. Here’s a hint, in the workout room, there are granola bars.
Bell Staff – Park your car; help with baggage; a question or two about the area? An excellent bell staff is ready to assist.
The Chaz – Located on the lower level of the Raphael Hotel is the ‘Chaz,’ a throwback to a more elegant time in dining and drinking; a darkened dining room, a maitre D’, cool jazz, and live music makes the Chaz, one of the hidden pearls of the Plaza.
The Chaz Bar – The Chaz’s bar is a small, almost afterthought to the layout of the restaurants limited space. Seating only seven at the bar, small tables round out the seating area affording space for another twenty or so patrons. Musicians hover in the corner playing their smooth jazz. This gem of a lounge can quickly, and often does, become crowded. Quite crowded. Yet, do not allow small size to beguile you into thinking less of this libation sanctuary.
The bar is exceptionally well stocked with bourbon’s and whiskeys. And, let me just throw out these words to the whiskey aficionados among us; Pappy Van Winkle “12 Year Old” Special Reserve. Do you understand how hard it is to procure this elixir? Unless your are a whiskey connoisseur, I suspect not. I have been trying for years to acquire a bottle to no avail, and now I see a bottle of it sitting just feet from me calling out for me to imbibe.
“Soon my friend, soon,” I think to myself.
This bottle of Pappy would also be the high bar by which I would measure the other local bars by.
Happy Hour – Happy hour, that brief moment in our day where we transition from the toils of our day to the pleasures of our night and enjoy a brief respite among friends and strangers alike; for an obligatory discount.
The Chaz while many things, is not the Happy Hour Mecca of the Plaza. Nor should it be. The Chaz has a limited number items it places in its happy hour discounts; crab cakes, a flatbread, a steak burger and a few other finger foods. A few drink specials round out your libation choices. The mules were my go to choices. Beer is served only in bottles.
I thought the crab cakes okay; 3 crab cakes, mildly seasoned, pan fried, for a total of about 8 ounces, nothing unique here. The flatbread was a delightful surprise; a 12 inch long flatbread, grilled, topped with salami, fresh mozzarella, and heart of palm. This was a delicious dish that could easily be shared among friends and family or enjoyed as a meal as I did.
For Easter dinner, I enjoyed a prime rib. I ordered the King’s Cut. An exceptional slice of meat, served with potatoes and green beans. Just excellent!
Live Music – The Chaz has live music each night, further ratcheting up its sophistication factor and to my surprise, one of only two establishments in the Plaza area to do so every night. Listening to live jazz, sipping a bourbon, and scribing some notes for others to read, is truly a most enjoyable way to spend an evening.
The Raphael Hotel borders the Plaza, America’s first shopping plaza. The Plaza has morphed itself through the decades into a ‘go to’ location for shopping and dining. A plethora of high-end eateries are within walking distance of the Raphael if you should choose to venture forth. A movie theater is located on the western end. However, other entertainment venues are lacking. The Plaza is in desperate need of a set of dueling piano’s.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art – A moderate walk from the Raphael Hotel, is the Nelson-Atkins Museum. Housing 40,000 items, the museum is a diverse collection of various genres of art to include, but not limited to, medieval armor and artifacts, Dutch portraits, European and American landscapes, and American regionalist paintings. One of my favorite American Regionalists is Thomas Hart Benton. His ‘Penelope’ is on display here (he was a Kansas City native); a striking painting featuring a beautiful nude and a gawking average joe. A bonus to this museum, it is FREE!
Marriott Points – Reward Points. Ah, the bitcoin of the Average Joe. It is these I covet most and by using several stacking methods, I am able to garner the most rewards points possible-
•Base Points – $121.00 a night for my long term stay. 10 points per dollar X $121.00 = 1,210 points per night.
•Platinum Bonus – 50% bonus on base points. 1,210 points X 50% = 605 bonus points per day.
•Breakfast Points – by declining breakfast, I earn another 750 points per day.
•Marriott Bonus Period 2018 – 1,000 to 3,000 Bonus points per stay.
A total of about 2,500 points a night! (On average).
Uber – I have become a huge fan of Uber. Checking repeatedly throughout my stays I noticed a nice compliment of drivers hovering around the Plaza. If you need a free ride, use my referral code, ericw21190ue and enjoy an Uber ride on me (up to $5.00). That’s the Average Joe way!
My Recommendation- Stay at the Raphael Hotel! Enjoy the class and ambiance of one of America’s hotel treasures. Enjoy life as it is meant to be enjoyed; with grace and elegance. Sip a bourbon and listen to live music; Life is indeed good. The Raphael, reminds you of just that.