Houstonians can be forgiven for desperately needing a break this holiday season. Yet at a time when so many would be boarding planes, trains, and automobiles for that much-anticipated holiday trip, talk of another pandemic shutdown is once again looming.
Fortunately for locals with wanderlust, Houston’s sprawling expanse offers myriad opportunities for mini getaway staycations. Safety is no doubt a top concern when venturing out during COVID.
To that end, numerous hotels have pledged to provide safe stays via contactless check-ins and checkouts, socially distanced activities, extra cleaning in rooms and communal areas, and more. Don’t be shy in calling ahead and asking questions before you book — and when you arrive.
Savvy staycationers should look for deals during the holiday season. Visit Houston is offering a buy-one, gift-one experience for guests to gift loved ones, healthcare workers, a teacher, or anyone in need of holiday cheer. Meanwhile, the AAA Four Diamond InterContinental Houston – Medical Center has teamed up with Rice Village to deliver 12 exclusive offers with the bustling shopping district’s boutiques, spas, and fast casual restaurants.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up eight Houston-area hotels (including north and island jaunts) offering a chance to explore the city or while away the day in a suite, spa, or luxe lounge.
Houston’s downtown site of one of America’s most iconic luxury hotel brands boasts a redesign of its rooms, courtesy of the award-winning Rottet Studio. Nearby entertainment comes courtesy of neighboring Toyota Center, House of Blues, and Discovery Green, while inside, families can enjoy the popular saltwater pool, which even offers movie time for kiddos. Couples can book his-and-her trips to the acclaimed spa.
Nosh at Bayou & Bottle restaurant and bar, or go upscale Italian with Quattro, which is open for special event nights.
Deals: Look for 20-percent-off room rates and the Four Seasons Residents Retreat Package, which includes a discounted room, daily breakfast, valet, movies, and even a trip to the in-house Topgolf simulator. New Year’s Eve packages are also available; this promises to be one of Houston’s best spots to ring in 2021.
Insider tip: Watch for the visiting celebrity, as the hotel is a favorite of visiting A-listers. Also, the hotel is famous for accommodating the most outlandish asks, so don’t be modest with any special requests. (Guests have been known to request visits with wild animals on the grounds or have dinner with J.J. Watt, for starters.)
The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
Boasting 27 acres on Buffalo Bayou, history as home to President George H.W. Bush and wife, Barbara, and reputation as an abode for local elite, The Houstonian enjoys legendary status in Houston. The hotel also boasts a winter wonderland for families and kids.
Deals: The resort is offering several staycation offers this season, the most popular being the Unwind & Dine Package, which includes two complimentary cocktails, all-pool access, late check out, and a $50 credit towards dining and beverages (this is best served at in-house restaurant, TRIBUTE). The Perks & Presents Package encourages guests to shop at the nearby Galleria or River Oaks District (complimentary transportation is provided), and gifts them with a free Christmas ornament, two holiday-themed cocktails, free self parking, treats for kids, and more. For New Year’s Eve, look to the Cheers to 2021!; this package includes pool access, late checkout, complimentary party hats and crowns, a $100 credit for dining in TRIBUTE with two complimentary glasses of Pol Roger champagne, and more.
Insider tip: When staying at the hotel, there is no resort fee for guests who partake in the offerings of the exclusive Houstonian Club. (Resort fees often run a minimum of $50 per day). No stay is complete without a visit to the iconic Trellis Spa, soon to be the largest spa in Texas.
The Post Oak Hotel
Houston’s billionaire Tilman Fertitta built his palace for an opulent, over-the-top experience. The city’s only hotel to achieve the coveted AAA Five Diamond Rating offers helicopter service. A 20,000-square-foot spa, and even a $1 million package. (The package provides an opportunity to enjoy 43 vintages of Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Magnums, “His & Hers” Bentleys, up to four gourmet dinners, along with overnight stays at the hotel.) Head to Uptown for eats, or dine in at The Post Oak’s four restaurants — Craft F&B, Bouchée Patisserie, Bloom & Bee, and H Bar.
Deals: The “Linger Longer” discount is for extended stays. Also look for breakfast credits for a bed and breakfast experience, and even an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Johnson Space Center with access to private, select areas.
Insider tip: Watch for celebs at the pool — especially Houston Rockets superstars — and snap a selfie under the $1 million crystal chandelier.
For a full-on waterpark experience without leaving the city, venture to downtown’s Marriott Marquis and its massive Texas-shaped (and Texas-sized) lazy river pool. Since its opening, the hotel’s Parkview Terrace has become a social media and staycation favorite. For the holidays, the terrace is decked out in Christmas lights; visiting DJs spin tunes while guests splash in the heated waters at night or sip cocktails at the outdoor bars.
Daytime, catch a sporting event at Biggio’s or visit the Pure Spa for an array of Elemis Biotic beauty treatments or a relaxing massage before venturing out to next-door Discovery Green. Nearby dining destinations include the scenic Grove, buzzy Lucille’s, newcomer Acadian Coast, or the acclaimed Xin Chao. But visitors should be sure to feast at in-house Xochi, the brainchild of Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught and home to the city’s best Oaxacan-inspired dishes — especially the divine, mole-laden plates.
Deals: Be sure to check out holiday packages featuring terrace entertainment.
Insider tip: Grab your partner or the kids and plan to arrive at the pool at or before 10 am, as it is jam-packed by mid-morning.
Gracefully appointed with European flair (the lobby makes for perfect selfies), the Alessandra brings a romantic, old-world charm to downtown. The hotel’s many packages (spa days, couples, etc.) make for an easy way to explore the Alessandra’s offerings. Food and drink is a draw here: the Bardot lounge is modeled after turn-of-the-century bars in London. Enjoy a sip there, then head to Lucienne for Mediterranean and French-inspired fare. Service shines at Spa by Alessandra, which offers a quiet, pampering atmosphere (whispering is a must).
Deals: Rates start at $99 per night; packages include “Stay Another Night For Free”: reserve two nights, and receive a complimentary third night complimentary. The New Year’s Eve in Houston package includes a luxurious accommodation for two, a welcome amenity, $75 food and beverage credit, and late check-out.
Insider tip: Lounge at the pool, change, and hop in the hotel’s Maserati for a quick jaunt to a downtown destination.
Hotel Zaza Museum District
If these walls could talk, what stories they’d tell. Since its opening in the Museum District in the early aughts, Hotel Zaza has been home to racy rendezvouses in its scandalously seductive suites. Arrive early to dine at the open-air Monarch Bistro, sidle up to the bar, roam the romantic settings (even the hallways are eye-catching), and later, retreat to the room. Wake up late and join the scenesters at the pool; the cabanas here are always hoppin’ and often spark impromptu parties. When weather permits, a stroll down the Museum District walkways near the Sam Houston fountain is simply divine.
Deals: A staycation offer includes a $50 food and beverage credit per night — for use with room service, poolside, Monarch, or the minibar — plus valet parking for one vehicle per night.
Insider tip: Party late into the night at Monarch (or at a stranger’s suite — it happens often), wake up late, and head to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s stunning new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for some amazing art.
Houston CityPlace Marriott at Springwoods Village
Woodlands locals and residents in points north can now enjoy a AAA Four-Diamond experience, thanks to the CityPlace Marriott. The hotel is strategically located near major shopping destinations, including The Woodlands Mall, The Market at Springwoods Village, and Old Town Spring.
Deals: Holiday rooms start at $99 per night.
Insider tip: After a shopping trip, dine at the acclaimed in-house SwitcHouse Plates + Pours, then get into the holiday spirit with views of a life-size gingerbread village and floating, 35-foot tree along the walking trails.
Hotel Galvez & Spa
Galveston goers can surely make a splash at Tilman Fertitta’s flashy San Luis Resort. But for some old-world charm, staycationers can opt for the only historic beachfront hotel on the Gulf Coast, the Hotel Galvez. Opt for a Spa Room or a suite overlooking the water at the AAA Four-Diamond property. Enjoy pooltime, a cocktail on the deck, or a daily shrimp fry for a true island experience.
The charming inn has hosted a cadre of the rich and famous since its opening in 1911, so expect to see a mix of well-heeled travelers, smart locals, and savvy adventurers. As Galveston is currently under COVID restrictions, call ahead as reservations may change daily.
Deals: Check often as deals are changing based on occupancy and restrictions.
Insider tip: The Galvez is regarded as one of the most haunted spots in Texas; look for a guided ghost tour, or watch for an elegant specter at the regal bar late at night.