Three Great Stays in San Antonio

By: Shelley Seale

I love San Antonio. It’s a great city to visit, and since it’s just over an hour’s drive from my home I visit somewhat frequently. It holds some of my earliest travel memories, of road trips taken there from the Dallas area during my childhood.

It’s also one of the most popular destination towns in the United States. It’s the most visited city in Texas, and a popular vacation spot nationwide. Travel + Leisure named it one of America’s favorite cities. It’s generally known as the place where “Tex-Mex meets the Old West,” and its blend of cultural and historic influences gives its rich heritage.

I thought I would share three of my favorite places to stay in San Antonio; all three are very different, so where to stay depends on the type of getaway you want at the time. And while you’re there, don’t forget some of my favorite San Antonio things to do:

Hotel Havana

This swanky boutique hotel is run by hotelier Liz Lambert, the same team who runs the oh-so-cool 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 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. While this was a lovely place to stay, my favorite part of the Havana is Ocho, its restaurant and lounge. Perhaps even more popular with locals than tourists, to get to Ocho you take the elevator down to the basement level, to a dark speakeasy-feeling lounge with bartenders who will whip you up something magical, if you tell them what you like.

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

Larger than the Havana, the Valencia has 213 chic guest rooms but still feels very much like a boutique hotel. Situated on five levels, rooms overlook either the charming central courtyard, or the Riverwalk. The design is modern and romantic, with a great location within walking distance to most attractions.

The Vbar is sleek, extending onto a terrace above the river that offers a great place to have a drink. The Valencia also hosts a fair amount of events and weddings; in fact, when I was in San Antonio on a previous trip (and staying at the Havana), I walked down to the Valencia to attend a fundraiser for children’s cancer research. My last trip to San Antonio, a couple of weeks ago, I stayed at the Valencia and loved it.

The Westin La Cantera Hill Country Resort

This is the place to be if you want to be away from downtown, in the quiet and beautiful Hill Country area in Northwest San Antonio. Perched atop one of the highest points of San Antonio, overlooking the Texas Hill Country. It’s truly a retreat, yet only a 15-minute drive from downtown and the Riverwalk. Even better for families, La Cantera is right next door to Fiesta Texas, which makes for a great getaway with the kids.

I took my daughter and her baby, who was about 9 months old at the time. We had a fantastic time walking through the pretty gardens and hiking trail, and hanging out at one of the five lagoon-style pools most of the afternoon. For older kids, there is an entire kids area at the resort and tons of activities. When we decided to go into town for a Riverwalk stroll and dinner, it was only a short drive each way. But to be honest, we almost had to force ourselves to leave. One of the biggest draws of La Cantera is the food, which is fresh, local, inventive and exquisite.

So if you visit my second-favorite Texas city (behind my hometown of Austin, of course) — I promise you can’t go wrong at any of these great places to stay.