Best Kept Secret

Missouri Athletic Club

Picture nine businessmen with their feet up in comfy old pleather recliners, neckties tossed over one shoulder, eyes closed, mouths open, soft buzzing noises coming out of said mouths, and you'll get a fair idea of the Missouri Athletic Club's "Reading Room" after lunch, give or take a few smoldering cigars. But the room known to cognoscenti as the "Snooze Room" is just one area on the top floor of this venerable downtown institution, which also offers plenty of activities for the younger and more energetic — basketball, squash, swimming, billiards, weightlifting, spinning, tae kwan do and racquetball, to name a few. Started as a men's club in 1903, the MAC and its many services have been open to women since 1988, though there's still a strong masculine feel to the place. The clubhouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and one look around the magnificent lobby, paneled in century-old quarter-sawn oak and decorated with moose heads, shows why. But it's the trophy collection in the Sportsman's Grill on the fourth floor that tells the club's true story: Athletic has always been its middle name.

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