St. Paul, MN, USA ~ Celeste of St. Paul

January 2020

IMG_0703For the previous year, we had watched with anticipation as a former convent — and later a music conservatory — was transformed into downtown St. Paul’s first boutique hotel. Things seemed to be moving slowly, at least based on our observations from the sidewalks and peeks through the windows. But then one day, right before the holidays, the Celeste was open for business. We got there within the first few weeks to have a New Year’s Eve drink in the bar, and a few days later we made plans for a birthday celebration and overnight stay. In the darkness of a January late afternoon, we walked the 10 blocks from our house to the hotel, carrying nothing more than a few toothbrushes.

Good bones

Completed in 1909, the Beaux-Arts building is an architectural gem. During strolls around the neighborhood, we had often admired the building’s curved double staircase that leads to the front entrance, its sixth-floor that we knew was once an open loggia, and its copper cornice. Prior to the announcement that it would become a hotel, the building was still graceful and elegant, but its age was showing, and we were thrilled to learn it had been purchased and would undergo renovation.


Exterior renovations ended up being fairly minimal. Inside, an attempt was made to save  — and highlight — some of the building’s best  features, including arched ceilings, terrazzo floors, and lovely woodwork. Our room had what looked to be its original door with a built-in window (nuns don’t need a lot of privacy; the window had new mirrored glass), double closets, oak floors, tall wood trim, and sash windows. Breakfast was held in what used to be the convent’s chapel, and  at least three separate stairways with worn stone floors were fun ways to navigate around the building.

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Attention and investment still needed

We appreciated the hotel’s many references to its past. But pulling this off takes a lot of attention to detail…and a lot of money. In our short stay, we saw several indications that one or both of these were missing. Throughout the property, we saw what appeared to be construction dust, the windows were spotty, and the mail slot at the front door was filled with trash. It was almost as if, in the rush to open, the all-important final punch list had been neglected. We’re hoping the hotel is still at work on some of these easily-fixable details.

IMG_0730A few other shortcoming would take more effort. The ceiling in the breakfast space was already peeling under its fresh coat of paint. This made us wonder if  substantive repairs were passed over in favor of cosmetic touches. And — perhaps the oddest choice — the TV in our room was mounted over one of the closet doors, making the door mostly inoperable. (The room actually had really good storage if the TV weren’t blocking half of the closet space.) We know guests expect clear views of the TV from their hotel bed, but the placement of our TV truly detracted from the room’s aesthetic.

Next time a suite?

We booked a king room with a state capitol view. From our house, we can just see the gold statue that adorns the front of the capitol, so we thought it would be fun to see the whole building, which glows at night, from our hotel room. The room did, indeed, boast a stunning view of the capitol, which we could see from the very comfy bed. The bathroom didn’t have body lotion or robes, which we tend to count on, but it was brand new and functional, and for one night, we didn’t need those amenities. During this stay, we didn’t visit the bar, but it seems already to be establishing itself as a cozy spot for a cocktail or glass of wine.

If we stay at the Celeste a second time — we will give it another chance once it has settled in a bit — we’ll likely book a suite. The prices are quite a bit more, but not relative to other urban hotels, and the suites not only look terrific, they have the kinds of amenities (soaking tubs and Nespresso machines) that we’ve come to expect in boutique hotels.

Stay details:

  • Celeste of St. Paul
  • Location: Exchange Street, downtown St. Paul
  • Our stay: One night, January 4, 2020
  • Our room: Executive King Capitol View

What we ate, what we did:

Back to HOTELLING home

One thought on “St. Paul, MN, USA ~ Celeste of St. Paul

  1. Sure hope that you spoke with management before you left or have contacted them regarding these problems. Only fair that they should be aware of your findings! 👍😊


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