Where to stay in St. Louis for first time: 3 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in St. Louis as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in St. Louis for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in St. Louis for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in St. Louis and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Before getting into the main topic, let’s look at some highlights of Saint Louis:

St. Louis is a major city located in the U.S. state of Missouri, situated along the western bank of the Mississippi River. It is known for its iconic Gateway Arch, which is a symbol of the city and the United States’ westward expansion.

Founded in 1764 by French fur traders, St. Louis played a crucial role in the westward expansion of the United States during the 19th century. It served as a gateway for pioneers heading westward on the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail.

Apart from the Gateway Arch, other notable landmarks include the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, the Old Courthouse, and Forest Park, which is one of the largest urban parks in the United States.

The city has numerous museums, theaters, and music venues. The St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra are popular cultural attractions in the area.

St. Louis is a sports-loving city and has a strong sports culture. It is home to the St. Louis Cardinals, a Major League Baseball team, and the St. Louis Blues, a National Hockey League team.

The city is home to several universities and colleges, including Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis University, and the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

St. Louis is known for its unique cuisine, including St. Louis-style pizza (characterized by a thin, cracker-like crust), toasted ravioli, and the famous St. Louis-style barbecue.

The city has a well-developed transportation system, including highways, public transit, and an international airport, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

Is St. Louis safe to visit?

Yes, St. Louis is generally safe to visit. But, as in any other major urban area in the United States, it is important to exercise common sense, be aware of your belongings, lock your car, avoid isolated areas and try to walk in a group at night.

Where to stay in St. Louis for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in St. Louis for first-timers and tourists are Downtown St. Louis, Central West End, and Clayton. It’s important to note that crime can happen in any location, it’s always a good idea to stay vigilant and take basic safety precautions wherever you are. 

Downtown St. Louis is the most popular area to stay in St. Louis for first-time visitors. This area is home to many of the city’s major attractions, including the Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium, and the City Museum. This area has a high concentration of hotels, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Central West End is a vibrant and walkable neighborhood, known for its historic architecture, trendy shops, and diverse dining options. It’s close to attractions like the St. Louis Zoo and Forest Park, which is a large urban park with museums and outdoor activities.

Clayton is a suburb located just west of St. Louis, offers a mix of upscale dining, shopping, and a more residential feel. It’s known for being a business and cultural hub.

While popular areas for visitors are generally safe to stay, it is recommended to avoid staying in North St. Louis, north of Delmar Blvd, and some southside areas like Dutchtown, and Tower Grove East. If you have places to visit there, just go during the day time.  

During my trip to Saint Louis, I stayed at the 3-star Drury Plaza St. Louis at the Arch. It was a good value for money hotel in a super central location right next to the Arch.My room was clean and spacious with a comfortable king bed. It had a great view of the arch and the downtown area.

Below is a map of the popular areas in St. Louis for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in St. Louis first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in St. Louis first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in St. Louis, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in St. Louis have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

3 Safe areas to stay in St. Louis for first-timers and tourists:

1. Downtown St. Louis

Downtown St. Louis is undoubtedly the best area to book your accommodations during your first visit. It is a hub of activity, and staying in this area provides easy access to many of the city’s key attractions. 

The iconic Gateway Arch is the centerpiece of Downtown St. Louis. You can take a tram to the top for panoramic views of the city and the Mississippi River.

You can have good views of the Arch at the nearby Kiener Plaza. It is also a pleasant spot to relax, enjoy outdoor activities. Nearby you can explore the architectural beauty of the historic courthouse that played a significant role in the Dred Scott slavery case.  

History buffs can visit the City Museum located in the Washington Avenue Loft District. It is a unique and interactive attraction housed in a former shoe factory. It’s known for its eclectic exhibits and architectural marvels.

Downtown is home Busch Stadium, a must-visit for baseball fans. Even if there isn’t a game, the Ballpark Village surrounding the stadium offers dining, entertainment, and nightlife options.

If you’re a fan of sports or live entertainment, check out the events happening at the Scottrade Center, which is home to the St. Louis Blues hockey team.

The neighborhood is well-connected by public transportation, and you’ll find a mix of hotels, ranging from luxury options to more budget-friendly accommodations.

Downtown St. Louis boasts a diverse culinary scene, with a range of restaurants offering everything from casual eats to upscale dining. There are also plenty of bars, clubs, and theaters for entertainment.

Best places to stay in Downtown St. Louis for first-timers:

Budget ($): Drury Plaza St. Louis at the Arch, 3-star good value for money in a prime location in Downtown St. Louis, 5 mins walk from the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium. Also close to the Amtrak Station, Kiener Plaza, and Scottrade Center. It has an outdoor pool, fabulous free hot breakfast, 2 restaurants, and parking.

Budget ($): Drury Inn and Suites St Louis Union Station, great 3-star hotel in downtown area, adjacent to St. Louis Union Station, 10 mins walk from Scottrade Center. Easy train access for Arch and baseball games. It has an outdoor swimming pool, private secure parking, happy hours, and very good breakfast.

Mid-range ($$): Hyatt Regency Saint Louis at The Arch, popular 4-star hotel conveniently located on  Chestnut Street, in central St. Louis, very close to The Arch, 8 mins walk from Busch Stadium. It has a fitness center, a business center, an onsite Starbucks coffee, and comfortable family rooms.

Luxury ($$$): Four Seasons St. Louis, 5-star beautiful hotel, offering rooms with views of the city or Gateway Arch.  It is located next to a casino, 10 mins walk from Edward Jones Dome. It features outdoor and indoor pools, a fitness center, and free babysitting services.

Budget ($): Pear Tree Inn St Louis Convention Center, great 3-star secure hotel located in the city center of Saint Louis, on North Broadway, close to the Horseshoe Casino, 10 mins walk from the famous Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. 


2. Central West End

The Central West End is adjacent to Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Forest Park is home to the St. Louis Zoo, Missouri History Museum, Art Museum, and Science Center. 

The Central West End is renowned for its upscale shopping districts along Euclid Avenue and Maryland Plaza. You’ll find boutique shops, art galleries, and a wide array of restaurants and cafes, offering diverse culinary experiences.

This area is home to Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, a stunning example of Byzantine and Romanesque architecture. It features intricate mosaics that make it a must-visit for those interested in art and history.

The neighborhood is home to several medical institutions, including Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. This contributes to a mix of professionals, students, and residents, creating a dynamic and diverse community.

The Central West End offers a lively nightlife scene with a variety of bars, pubs, and lounges. From trendy cocktail bars to casual pubs, there’s something for everyone looking to unwind in the evening.

The neighborhood features a mix of historic homes, mansions, and modern condominiums. The tree-lined streets and well-preserved architecture add to the charm of the area.

The Central West End is a walkable neighborhood, making it easy to explore its streets, parks, and attractions. The Metrolink light rail system also provides convenient public transportation.

Best places to stay in St. Louis in Central West End:

Mid-range ($$): The Royal Sonesta Chase Park Plaza St Louis, 4-star beautiful hotel located just across from Forest Park, featuring a large outdoor swimming pool, family rooms, and 3 restaurants. It is very close to shops, restaurants, and bars. Quiet rooms for a good night sleep.

Budget ($): Holiday Inn Express St. Louis Central West End, an IHG Hotel, 3-star hotel located on Lindell Boulevard, 5 mins walk from Forest Park, 15 mins drive/ taxi ride to the downtown area. 

Budget ($): AC Hotel by Marriott St Louis Central West End, 3-star hotel situated on York Avenue, in a lively area, near Forest Park and various tourist attractions like the Cathedral Basilica, St. Louis Zoo, and not far from the Delmar Loop, where you can find many great shops and restaurants.

Budget ($): Element St. Louis Midtown, 3-star hotel conveniently located on Forest Park Avenue, close to Saint Louis University,  the Foundry, the City Winery, The Fabulous Fox, and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. It has free bikes, a rooftop bar, a secure parking lot , and an indoor swimming pool.


3. Clayton

Clayton is a bustling and upscale suburb located just west of Forest Park and downtown St. Louis. Clayton serves as the central business and financial district for St. Louis.

This area is home to the Shaw Park, a beautifully landscaped public park, offering walking paths, green spaces, and recreational facilities. It’s a great place for outdoor activities and relaxation.

The area boasts a sophisticated dining scene with upscale restaurants, cafes, and bars. There are also boutique shops and high-end retailers, making it a great destination for those who enjoy fine dining and shopping.

The Clayton MetroLink station provides convenient access to public transportation, and major highways make it easy to explore the broader region.

Best places to stay in St. Louis in Clayton for tourists:

Mid-range ($$): Clayton Plaza Hotel & Extended Stay, popular 4-star good value for money accommodation, in a great location on Carondelet Avenue, near the mall and other stores. It has a lovely complimentary hot breakfast, clean Indoor/outdoor pool, and spacious rooms.

Mid-range ($$): Residence Inn by Marriott St Louis Clayton, good value for money modern hotel in a great location on Forsyth Blvd, offering rooms with a kitchenette. Great base for families.

Luxury ($$$): The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, 5-star hotel located in Downtown Clayton, 15 mins drive from downtown Saint Louis. Short distance from Forest Park  where you can find Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum and Missouri History Museum.


In conclusion, Downtown St. Louis, Central West End, and Clayton are the best places to stay in St. Louis for first-timers and tourists. These areas are generally safe, but it is essential to exercise normal safety precautions wherever you go.

You can continue reading about cities near Saint Louis in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to St. Louis. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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