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Best Places to Stay in San Antonio

by Shelley Seale

From the Alamo and the Riverwalk, to fiestas and the championship Spurs, San Antonio, Texas is one of the most-visited cities in the United States, and the top tourist draw in Texas. Millions of people visit each year, strolling along the river one storey below the bustling street level, in an unusual and romantic urban sanctuary. Endless dining and nightlife options, a thriving art scene and top-notch museums make it easy to see why so many flock to the rich culture of this city. Here are three of the best places to stay when you visit San Antonio.

Valencia

Credit: Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

The Hotel Valencia location can’t be beaten. Right on one of the best stretches of the Riverwalk, the heart of downtown and the river are right at your footsteps. But what I like best about the Valencia is that in spite of its seemingly busy location, the place is an oasis of serenity. Walk through the doors, and you are instantly immersed in a cool, artfully lit, understated chic that emanates tranquilllity.

The Valencia has 213 chic guest rooms situated on five levels, but still feels very much like a boutique hotel. Rooms overlook either the Riverwalk or a charming central courtyard, reminiscent of traditional Mexican haciendas. The Vbar is sleek, extending onto a terrace above the river that offers a great place to have a drink.

Interesting fact: The hotel’s Citrus Restaurant was featured on Bravo TV’s Top Chef Texas — the only hotel restaurant to gain a coveted spot. Citrus has also been lauded by San Antonio Magazine and the San Antonio Express News as the best hotel restaurant in town.

Credit: Photography by Allison V. Smith

Credit: Photography by Allison V. Smith

Hotel Havana

This swanky boutique hotel is run by hotelier Liz Lambert, who also runs the oh-so-hip Hotel San Jose and Saint Cecilia in Austin. It has a cool aesthetic that is at once pan-Latin and minimalist; they had me the minute they delivered a pitcher of margaritas to my room moments after check-in. The downtown hotel was originally built in 1914 by a successful local grocer as a residence hotel for his buyers.

The property offers 27 unique rooms ranging from studios to King and Queen Suites to a split level Penthouse. The entire place feels like staying in some rich and eccentric old tia’s home, and pays tribute to the culture of its Cuban namesake as well as its proximity to Mexico. As an added accommodating touch, The Havana is also pet friendly.

Interesting fact: Don’t miss the Havana’s restaurant and lounge, Ocho, with its speakeasy vibe and dark, mysterious décor. Take the elevator down to the basement level and mosey up to the bar, where the excellent mixologists will whip you up something magical, if you tell them what you like.

Credit: Westin La Cantera

Credit: Westin La Cantera

Westin La Cantera Hill Country Resort

The downtown and the Riverwalk aren’t the only spots to be in San Antonio. Don’t forget that the city’s location is in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, and there is no better place to enjoy it than at Westin’s resort in the northwest part of the city. Perched atop one of the highest points in San Antonio, overlooking some magical vistas and sunsets, this is truly a retreat — yet only a 15-minute drive from downtown.

The resort offers 470 guest rooms and suites in the three wings of the impressive hotel, as well as 38 individual casitas spread out on the grounds and offering optimal privacy. This is also the place to be for families, with its magnificent recreational facilities including five lagoon-style pools with connecting rivers, Discovery Junction and Zoomagination kids club programs, teen social events and a nature hiking trail. La Cantera is also located right next door to Fiesta Texas, which makes for a great family day of fun, and offers a championship 36-hole golf course.

Interesting fact: Detailed research on Texas history yielded the inspiration for many aspects of the resort. The Esparza Library was named for the only Alamo defender given a Christian burial by Santa Ana; Francesca’s at Sunset restaurant derived its name from a moving story of lost love; the ceiling of Steinheimer’s Lounge features a hand-painted map showing the location of legendary buried gold; and Tio’s Lobby Lounge recreates the feeling of the main entrance to King Ranch — at one time the largest of its kind in the U.S. and the inspiration for the resort architecture as a whole.

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