One of the great American mysteries is why anyone -- yes, anyone -- would rather stay in a nondescript hotel room when he or she could pay a similar (if not cheaper) fare to lodge in full-service splendor at a historic bed & breakfast. The finest feature unique and varied rooms, custom cuisine and hands-on owners. By these standards, Napoleon's Retreat, an 1880s French Victorian situated on the southeastern edge of Lafayette Square, is a five-star affair. The innkeepers, Bay area transplants Michael Lance and Jeff Archuleta, run their residence with a mi casa es su casa
air, right down to the cookies left out on the kitchen counter to fulfill unforeseen attacks of the munchies. The period furniture is meticulous, the staircase steep and the top-floor unit downright palatial. A backyard common area cements the inn's European feel. And, of course, there's the breakfast, on which Lance and Archuleta don't stint -- depending on their mood and guests' preferences, it might be anything from quiches and frittatas to eggs Benedict, accompanied by bacon or sausage and fruit, not to mention muffins, scones or croissants. Keep Napoleon's in mind for your out-of-town guests, but also for those times when you want to forget you live in St. Louis (if only for a weekend).