February 8, 2016
From antebellum mansions to historic properties and hip industrial-elegant boutiques, here are some of our favourite hotels for those wondering where to stay in San Antonio.
Visitors to San Antonio often want to stay along the River Walk or within view of the Alamo, and those are certainly good places to start. But even there, the city offers exciting lodging options beyond the big-brand hotels. Some of San Antonio’s best properties are ones that reflect the city’s distinctive South Texas spirit. From historic inns to industrial chic boutiques, Mexican-style haciendas, to Hill Country resorts, the accommodation you choose can make all the difference. Here are some of the best Alamo City options, from small independently owned boutiques to big brand hotels with a unique San Antonio sensibility.
Exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, 10-foot-tall windows, leather chairs and comfortable beds, this intimate 17-room hotel could be described as having a Restoration Hardware-meets-coffeehouse lounge feel. Housed in a historic downtown building, across the street from a central spot on the River Walk, close to Rivercenter Mall, Alamo, restaurants, galleries and a trolley stop, Riverwalk Vista Hotel has an unassuming entrance with an elevator lifting guests upstairs to an inviting lounge. A sometimes noisy McDonald’s next door seems to be the only shortcoming of this smart little hotel, which seems a bit like a B&B and feels like a rare find.
On a quiet stretch of the River Walk, just a few short blocks from River Walk restaurants, cafes and crowds, the handsome Hotel Havana is the kind of property in which Hemingway might have stayed. Housed in a striking 1914 building owned by hip Austin independent hotelier/designer Liz Lambert, The Havana’s décor draws on the mythic, mysterious vibe of the Cuba of yesteryear. With 27 rooms and a split-level Penthouse suite, the hotel hides a dark, daring basement bar and a popular terrace restaurant and bar, Ocho. With trendy touches like retro-refrigerators in rooms and local snacks in the minibar (including Mexican sodas and candies), and with fine linens, thick wooden shutters and dark hardwood floors, the Havana speaks a language all of its own.
This old-school luxury hotel reopened last autumn following a thoroughly modern renovation, revisiting its original swank style that has drawn celebrities, politicians, princesses for more than a century. The lobby is lined large white slabs of Italian marble, and the lounge overlooking Travis Park is lit by oversized crystal chandeliers. Still, there’s nothing old and stuffy about this grande dame. The renovation brought with it a chic new restaurant and bar; a rooftop pool, bar and cabanas; spacious rooms with contemporary décor, and all the touches that make for a superior San Antonio stay just three blocks from the Alamo. Home to the weddings of well-heeled locals and elaborate Fiesta balls, the St. Anthony holds a special place in the locals’ hearts.
No other hotel in town quite compares to the hot new Hotel Emma at Pearl. Housed in San Antonio’s iconic former Pearl Brewery – an enormous factory-sized space on the banks of the River Walk Museum Reach – this industrial-chic hotel looks as though it belongs in New York, not South Texas. The giant building actually holds only 146-rooms and 11 top-floor suites, but its elephant-sized common spaces house a handsome bar and clubroom, a sweet little restaurant with Chef John Brand at the helm, a gourmet food and wine pantry called Larder, an inviting in-house library, an upper-level pool, and casual outdoor areas with patios and fireplaces. Of course, rates reflect the high level of luxury one might expect here, but that’s not surprising for a place with such panache.
For the quintessential San Antonio stay, there’s no place more perfect than La MansiÃ³n del Rio. With its Spanish colonial architecture and the ambience of a grand hacienda, La MansiÃ³n offers rooms with Juliet balconies overlooking a prime River Walk location. Its restaurant, Las Canarias, is known for its excellent Sunday Champagne brunch, delightful dinners with special wine pairings, and Spanish Flamenco guitar music. Located behind the historic Majestic Theatre, this is the hotel where many starring acts and celebrities stay. Hotel guests can also enjoy one of the city’s best spas at the elegant Mokara Hotel & Spa, its companion property just across the River Walk – yet another fine hotel that discerning travelers recommend.
This sprawling San Antonio resort rests on the edge of the city where the Texas Hill Country begins and features a 36-hole TPC golf course, a luxurious spa, an adult pool, a family-friendly six-acre water park with a lazy river, seven restaurants and an enormous event space. Visitors will like the resort’s casual and quintessentially Texan décor, which makes it feel less like a Marriott and more like a Hill Country original. Guests find the resort has all they need, so they tend to spend their entire stay on the property, which is why it’s a favorite destination of locals, who see it as a prime “staycation” spot.
Just south of downtown, adjacent to the popular Southtown art and entertainment district, rests the King William Historic District, an elegant enclave of Victorian mansions and 1920s bungalows. There, on a large lot with a rose garden rests Oge House, a bed-and-breakfast with 10 guest rooms on three floors. Enjoy walking the quiet paths along the River, bicycling to the art galleries and restaurants of Southtown and the Blue Star Arts complex, and living like locals in this quiet neighborhood’s charming inn.
With its Gothic gables and flag-pole-topped-tower, this DoubleTree hotel is full of pleasant surprises. With one of the best locations in town, right next to the Alamo, this tall building with its unassuming lobby and restaurant is really rather special. Featuring spectacular views from rooms on high floors, contemporary furnishings and comfortable beds, The Emily Morgan has some rooms and suites featuring unusual angles and huge arched windows; some even offer magnificent views from the vantage of the bathtubs. They say the hotel is haunted (though many hotels here claim the same), but it does stand at the site of the Alamo’s deadly siege, so who knows”¦?
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Wondering where to stay in San Antonio? Have you visited any of these top hotels? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Janis Turk