Houston's prestigious presidential palace tops Travel + Leisure's highly coveted favorite Texas resort list
hail to the chief ... hotel
The iconic Houstonian Hotel, Club, and Spa has just landed at the top spot of the 2023 edition of Travel and Leisure's highly coveted list of readers' favorite Texas resorts. The hotel's ranking is the latest accolade to get added to Houston's ever-growing catalog of top-tier lodging recommendations.
As the only Houston-area hotel to make the cut, The Houstonian boasted the highest score out of all five resorts with a grand total of 91.38 points. Travel and Leisure readers lauded the exceptional guest service, the grand 27-acre campus, and the lavish and famed Trellis Spa, a local and Texas favorite for its no-detail-spared pampering and lush pools and amenities.
One part hotel and resort, one part mini city, the hotel thrives with myriad members and guests who pack the palace its top-tier exercise and wellness offerings, family-oriented membership, and elite, if-you-know-you-know status.
"The [Houstonian] claims the ultimate combination of city life with resort amenities, with a 185,000-square-foot health center and amenities galore right on the edge of lush Memorial Park, located mere minutes from downtown Houston," the report's author says.
Years-long, multi-phase renovations at the hotel were finally completed in September 2022, which added several new luxurious facilities. A few of the new offerings include two modern cycling studios and poolside restaurant The Kitchen at the Houstonian Club.
Shrewdly hidden in a veritable forest amid the bustle of the 610 Loop and Post Oak area, the hotel has enjoyed a 40-year reputation as one of the highest-status stays in Texas. President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush famously made their home there — the former president ("41," as he's lovingly known here) once brandished his drivers license to an interviewer revealing the hotel's address.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush, who, like her husband, displayed signature humility and grace to the hotel employees, somewhat shyly shared her chocolate cookie recipe with the staff when asked. Soon, the cookies would become a signature holiday treat for all visitors of the hotel. As CultureMap was first to report, when Barbara Bush passed away in 2018, the hotel shared her recipe with the public, a literally and figuratively sweet love letter to Houston and the world — and tribute to the unforgettable first lady.
For a truly Houston experience the new “Bush Suite” (so named in tribute to President and Mrs. Bush) offers adjoining rooms, luxe accommodations, photos and memorabilia from George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and a view of one of President Bush's views: the pool. One especially poignant photo in the suite depicts then-President Bush calling President-Elect Bill Clinton to concede the 1992 presidential election.
Indeed, so intertwined are the Bushes with the hotel that generations of Bush children — including media darling Jenna Bush Hager — have been seen strolling the property in true second-home fashion.
Not surprisingly for a grand beacon of old-school, old-guard Houston prestige, The Houstonian has seen countless international dignitaries and celebrities as visitors or residents who enjoy the regal, refined aesthetic.
"This 27-acre urban oasis earns major kudos from T+L respondents of every type," the report says. "In typical Texan fashion, more really is more at the Houstonian — but quality never comes second."
The Houstonian holds on to its No. 1 spot for the second year in a row, after previously ranking No. 4 in the 2021 report. The hotel was also awarded an honorable mention in Texas Monthly's list of of best hotels earlier this year.
Elsewhere in Texas, the remaining resorts on Travel and Leisure's report are all Central Texas getaways in Austin and San Antonio.
The full list of Travel and Leisure's best resorts in 2023 are:
- No. 1 – The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa
- No. 2 – La Cantera Resort and Spa in San Antonio
- No. 3 – Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection in Austin
- No. 4 – Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin
- No. 5 – Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio
The Trellis Spa is the signature pampering space at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa.
CultureMap editor Steven Devadanam contributed to this article.