The Central West End (or CWE) neighborhood of St. Louis, a 10-minute drive from downtown, is an eclectic, cosmopolitan showplace. A popular gathering spot, the CWE has a good selection of restaurants and sidewalk cafes tucked in between notable art galleries, antique shops, specialty shops, boutiques and bookstores. CWE event venues are subdued but sophisticated. CWE is home to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, which houses one of the largest mosaic collections in the western hemisphere, and has had some pretty famous residents. Playwright Tennessee Williams grew up in the neighborhood and poet T.S. Eliot had a home there. The neighborhood borders on Forest Park, with its vast array of free cultural institutions.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is a 15-minute drive from the Central West End neighborhood. Thirteen commercial airlines serve Lambert-St. Louis International Airport with nonstop service to nearly 60 cities in the U.S. and international destinations.
Meeting venues in CWE are mainly hotels. The three hotels located in the neighborhood are the 251-room Chase Park Plaza, with 65,000 square feet of function space; the 220-room Parkway Hotel, with 23,734 square feet of meeting space; and the 127-room Comfort Inn, with 4,350 square feet of meeting space. Meeting properties in neighboring Forest Park and Clayton include The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, with 300 guest rooms and 30,000 square feet of function space; the 263-room Hilton St. Louis Frontenac, with 21,800 square feet of meeting space; the 241-room Crowne Plaza, and the 259-room Sheraton Clayton Plaza, with 18,000 square feet of meeting space.
Along with special event venues in CWE, such as the Starlight Ballroom (which offers a sweeping view from its perch on top of the Chase Park Plaza), several of the city's most popular event locations are located in the neighborhoods next to the Central West End. The Tower Grove neighborhood is home to the Missouri Botanical Garden, with 79 acres of gardens that include the nation's largest Japanese garden. The historic venue can accommodate more than a thousand people in a variety of indoor and outdoor sites.
There is also a world-class assortment of possibilities for groups of a dozen or a thousand in Forest Park, Central West End's backyard. The 90-acre Saint Louis Zoo can host small receptions in concert with a specific exhibit or handle a buy-out for up to 10,000 people. The Saint Louis Art Museum was built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1904 World's Fair. The Sculpture Hall of the Beaux-Arts style building can handle 240 for a banquet and 400 for a reception. The Missouri History Museum's MacDermott Grand Hall featuring a unique River Mosaic and a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis can accommodate 250-400 persons for dinners, receptions and special events. The Saint Louis Science Center, one of the top five science centers in the nation, can host a thousand or more people for a special event.
The restaurants of the Central West End offer groups a range of experiences, from elegant and historic, to bistro style and an authentic pub ambience. Among them, Llywelyn's Pub (the original of what are now six venues in town) has a beer garden and a loft for special events.