No doubt, Houston boasts world-class luxury hotels. But locals looking for weekend or extended Lone Star State getaways can look to three new shining stars.
Conde Nast Traveler has released its Hot List for 2021 and highlights a trio of Texas top stays. Thompson Dallas was the city's only hotel to make the prestigious list of 69 best new hotels from around the world. Two Austin properties round out a Texas trio: Commodore Perry Estate and Hotel Magdalena.
Part of the lifestyle hospitality brand Thompson Hotels, the Dallas hotel opened in November 2020 in the historic George Dahl-designed building now known as The National on Akard Street. Developed by award-winning firm Todd Interests, Thompson Dallas was a $460 million preservation project that involved restoration and reuse of salvaged materials.
To curate this year's Hot List, released May 6, the publication's editors tested hundreds of new hotels across the globe, eventually narrowing it down to an unranked list of 69 — only 24 of which are in the United States and Canada. It is the 25th anniversary edition of the magazine's highly respected roundup.
As for what merits Thompson Dallas' place, Conde Nast Traveler writes:
As the brand’s first foray into Texas, everything is bigger — except for the lobby, a bookshelf-lined, flower-covered extended corridor of sorts that pushes you off the street and into the elevator bank to whisk you up and away. You’ll find the most amenities on the sprawling 9th and 10th floors, which seem designed for social distancing and have two acres of all-weather outdoor space between them — a rarity downtown, and at the city’s hotels overall — with cozy outdoor fireplaces, a terrace attached to its loungey Catbird bar, and a lap pool complete with resort-style cabanas. Spacious room interiors nod to the building’s origins in the 1960s with Mad Men-meets-urban cowboy decor that mixes brass accents with cow print and leather.
Thompson Dallas exists alongside The National Residences, 324 luxury high-rise apartments. And an opulent spa offers gorgeous downtown views.
The Austin properties that made the Hot List are no strangers to raves from national travel publications. In fact, both Commodore Perry Estate and Hotel Magdalena just earned Texas' only spots on Travel + Leisure's list of the world’s best new hotels.
Commodore Perry is a 10-acre lavish estate originally built in 1928 as the country home of Nannie Lewette “Lutie” and Commodore Edgar Perry. It is now part of the Auberge Resorts Collection hotel portfolio, which upgraded the historic Austin property with an additional three-story building and reopened last year.
Conde Nast Traveler lauds the property's setting as much as its design, saying, "The drive in can feel as though you’ve entered a European retreat far from Central Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood ... It’s easy to forget the surging tech-opolis of downtown is just 10 minutes away."
Hotel Magdalena, which opened last fall, is the South Congress Avenue beauty from Austin-based hospitality biz Bunkhouse Group. Its founder, Liz Lambert, is behind other such beloved hotel brands as Austin’s Hotel San Jose and Hotel Saint Cecilia, as well as El Cosmico, the funky Marfa property featuring yurts, teepees, and quirky trailers.
The magazine notes that the hotel's furnishings pay homage to the neighborhood's roots and its pool draws on the area's swimming hole culture. "Conceived and executed largely by women, Magdalena is welcoming and intuitive, a fitting nod to its namesake, the patron saint of the ladies," it says.
The Hot List has existed for 25 years, but editors admit that releasing this year's edition after a year-long global pandemic saw some challenges. It also, however, allowed them to present a story of resilience.
"Despite enormous hardship in the travel industry, exceptional properties have continued to open across the globe (nearly a thousand last year in the U.S. alone)," they say. "In spite of it all, the following pages are full of successes."