Last Updated on February 27, 2021 by Jim Ferri
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
By Carla Marie Rupp
The minute I checked into the Art Deco-style Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, MO last week, I knew I was in an extra special place.
This wasn’t my first visit to this culture-filled, cosmopolitan Missouri city. When I was growing up on a farm in Central Kansas, it was a favorite destination for my family and as I came into town some of those childhood memories came back.
The Phillips Stirs Up Memories
I also thought as how my father always admired hotels whenever we took trips and since my mother had lived for a time in Kansas City – they would have been young adults when the Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, MO was in its early heyday – I couldn’t help but wonder if they ever visited here and the thought made me feel a closeness with them.
I hope they had come here since the Hotel Phillips lobby is still beautiful and completely original to 1931, when the Phillips was built along with several other hotels. When you enter it you notice one of the hallmarks of the Phillips, an amazing, stunning gold statue between the twin staircases. An attractive young woman posed for it in the early thirties and several years ago the hotel was able to track her down and bring her back for a celebration.
Floor-to-Ceiling Murals at the Hotel Phillips
Another stunning hallmark of the the Hotel Phillips are the colorful, floor-to-ceiling murals on each floor of the hotel opposite the elevators. They were inspired by artist Tamara DeLempka, an immigrant from Russia who was a portraitist to celebrities in the era the hotel was built. There are a series of four murals that alternate on different floors of the hotel and I couldn’t help but go to each floor and get off the elevator to admire them. I’m certain I’m not the only one who’s made that tour.
In the Hotel Phillips, however, art isn’t just relegated to the hallways. In fact, you might say it’s moveable to anywhere you could imagine since the hotel has an artist-in-residence. The artist, 25-year-old Trey Bryan, has been given carte blanche to make his artworks anywhere and anytime he would like in the hotel. You shouldn’t be surprised if you find him drawing a scene you’re in or if he just starts drawing you. While I was staying at the Phillips they toasted him and his coffee-table book “Drawings of K.C.”
Kansas City also has a great jazz legacy, and the Hotel Phillips books different jazz musicians each weekend. On one Thursday evening I enjoyed listening to a Kansas City duo, singers and musicians Joe Cartwright and Duck Warner, in the hotel’s 12 Baltimore Bar and Cafe. The next night I found them on the hotel’s plush Mezzanine level, where guests can order drinks and food while enjoying the smooth sounds.
Before I checked out of the Hotel Phillips I made certain that I bought one of their CDs, “The Best of Kansas City Jazz,” to bring their sound, and the memory of the Phillips, home with me.
The author was invited by the State of Missouri’s Division of Tourism and Kansas City to experience portions of Western Missouri. As always, all of the views and opinions expressed are strictly her own.
If you go:
106 W. 12th Street
Kansas City, MO 64105
Kansas City Convention & Visitors Bureau
Missouri Division of Tourism
P.O. Box 1055
Jefferson, MO 65102