Hip Hotels in Houston
Fusing historic and modern, urban and country, sophisticated and down-home, these hotels in Houston are having a moment.
With recent development, an influx of new residents, and a reimagined local vision, Houston is shaking things up as one of the fastest-growing cities in the US. With a Theater District that ranks behind only New York City’s in density of seats and a thriving and eclectic art scene, it is cracking those outdated cowboy-hat stereotypes and having a bit of a cultural renaissance.
Texas’ largest city is booming with a fresh urban sophistication without losing its welcoming Lone Star attitude. Its hotels are no exception. Fusing historic and modern, urban and country, sophisticated and down-home, these hotels in Houston are having a moment, too.
JW Marriott Houston Downtown
The JW Marriott Houston Downtown transformed the century-old Samuel F. Carter Building, the city’s first skyscraper, into a super-stylish, 328-room luxury hotel that opened in 2014. After an $82 million renovation, it now includes the modern Main Kitchen restaurant and adjoining 806 Lounge, the first Spa by JW in the world, a health club, an executive lounge and 16,000 square feet of gallery-inspired meeting space. This is the place for visiting VIPs; rappers 50 Cent and Drake stay and party here while on tour. Oozing with modern amenities such as in-room iPads that let guests order room service or call the valet, the hotel also pays homage to the Houston arts scene by showcasing paintings and sculptures by local artists.
What’s extra cool: Check in to one of the signature spa rooms, which include massage loungers, soaking tubs and rain showers, and then indulge in the new HydraFacial treatment to banish signs of stress from your face.
In the heart of the Museum District, next to the Museum of Fine Arts, Hotel ZaZa fits right in, with its theatrical chandeliers and vintage movie posters of glamorous Old Hollywood. The 315-room property includes suites — some as big as nearly 3,000 square feet — with whimsical themes such as the space-centric Houston, We Have a Problem room, the Japanese-inspired Geisha House, and the music-based Rock Star suite. If you need a breath of fresh air after roaming through the nearby museums all day, the hotel is around the corner from inviting green spaces, including the 445-acre Hermann Park and the Miller Outdoor Theatre.
What’s extra cool: Arrive in style to dinner or any other neighborhood spot with ZaZa’s complimentary Magic Carpet Ride shuttle service, which uses sleek black cars with cattle horn adornments (this is Texas, after all).
With an extensive, $35 million renovation, Union National Bank’s 1911 building — which had been deserted and in shambles for more than 2 decades — was reborn in 2004 as the cowboy-chic Hotel Icon. One of the earliest steel and concrete skyscrapers in the country, the 12-story structure was originally designed in a neoclassical style, and its recent renovation as part of Autograph Collection Hotels maintained the Bedford limestone and brick exterior. The interior is sleek and urban but still showcases iconic Lone Star style, with traditional touches such as rawhide décor. Modern amenities include an innovative restaurant, Line & Lariat; a full-service spa; a spacious fitness center that’s open 24/7; and almost 7,000 square feet of event space.
What’s extra cool: Everything in Texas is bigger, even the Hotel Icon’s VIP rooms. If you made bank recently, treat yourself to a stay in the 2-level presidential suite or, for the real ballers, the 3-level penthouse suite.
The Lancaster Hotel
It might surprise first-time visitors, but Houston has a thriving performing-arts scene that’s centered in its 17-block Theater District — which includes the venues Jones Hall, the Wortham Theater Center, the Alley Theatre and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Right in the heart of the neighborhood is the Lancaster Hotel, which was built by Sicilian-born Houston investor Michele DeGeorge and originally opened in 1926 as the Auditorium Hotel. It was renamed in the early 1980s, and today, it’s still in the family and run by DeGeorge’s great-grandson. It’s also Houston’s oldest continuously operating hotel and the only one in the city to qualify for the Historic Hotels of America program. The boutique lodging maintains its historic charm with original 19th-century artwork and elegant furnishings, and it keeps the homey feeling of a family-run hotel with attentive service and rave-worthy comfortable beds.
What’s extra cool: You’ll feel as though you’re backstage during the hotel’s weekday wine hours in the lobby when you hear the stories of the theater stars who were regular guests over the years.
La Colombe d'Or
You don’t even need to visit the nearby Museum District and galleries to see masterpieces if you’re staying at La Colombe d’Or. This very intimate, lavish hotel is set in a 1920s mansion that was once the home of the founder of Humble Oil. Giving new meaning to the term boutique art hotel, La Colombe D’or has just 5 guest suites, some with private dining rooms; antique furniture; walls covered with fine art; and an on-site gallery with works by masters such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. For long-term stays, it has 9 2-level villas on the property’s courtyard, as well as the upscale Restaurant Cinq in the main house, a cocktail bar and a library.
What’s extra cool: Get transported out of Texas by taking a stroll through the mansion’s elegant ballroom, which is used for weddings and grand events and features 300-year-old carved wood panels that were imported from a French chateau.