Texas

8 Coolest Hotels in San Antonio: Hotels for Instagrammers, History Buffs, and Explorers

Looking for a hotel that features the best of the city? Local writer Erin Clarkson has you covered with this list of the coolest hotels in San Antonio.

San Antonio is changing. The cool kids are no longer rolling by the city on their way to Austin. Instead, they’re checking out the old beer factory in Cementville where smokestacks tower over a retail hub filled with at least a dozen restaurants, a theatre complex, and enough boutiques to keep any shopping addict entertained for hours on end. Similarly, the once defunct Pearl Brewery has undergone a remarkable transformation. It currently houses the Culinary Institute of America and is known for being the gastronomic hub of the city.

Many of San Antonio’s hotels are destinations in their own right. Hotel Emma and The St. Anthony attract elite explorers, while Hotel Havana lures Instagrammers seeking striking backdrops and basement-level cocktails only privy to those “in-the-know.”

You might be visiting San Antonio for the Alamo, but you’ll see there’s more to this city than history. Plan your stay around one of these eight coolest hotels in San Antonio to see which one will best serve as the base for your next San Antonio adventure.

A Quiet Part of the Riverwalk

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Any traveler familiar with Austin’s rock-n-roll themed Hotel St. Cecilia will immediately recognize Hotel Havana as its sister property in San Antonio. The two are similarly styled and feature colorful statement pieces of furniture framed against a backdrop of crisp, white walls.

The legendary boutique hotel dates back to 1914, but it gained notoriety in 2002 when the FBI used it as home base for a sting operation to expose corrupt city council members. International hotelier Liz Lambert took over a few years later and proceeded to place her stamp on the former mansion by adding funky touches like velvet-covered furniture and retro SMEG refrigerators in every room. (They’re stocked with local favorites such as Big Red, Coco Rico, and Dr. Pepper.)

Each room is individually decorated, so no two looks alike. The King Suite with its striking green bedframe and separate writing room is a favorite amongst travel insiders, but swankier guests might prefer to spring for the luxurious two-story Penthouse option – complete with its own cavernous blue-tiled bath that includes a plush velvet seating area. Each room incorporates iPod docking stations, complimentary WiFi, and flat-screen televisions.

Ocho Lounge is the hotel’s stunning atrium-style restaurant. Its long and narrow turquoise blue walls are lined with floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer sweeping views of the river and colorful boats passing below. The menu showcases Latin-American favorites such as pork pozole, tortas, and fried plantains. You’ll find the not-to-be-missed Havana Bar tucked away in the candlelit basement.

Hotel Havana is on a quiet part of the Riverwalk and located a respectable distance from the main touristy area, but still within walking distance to major attractions such as the Tobin Center. Parking is reasonable for a downtown hotel at less than $20 per day.

Hotel Havana

Top rated
San Antonio, 1.2 miles to Alamodome
8.8 Excellent (998 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Restaurant
Hotel CTA

A Tech-Free Weekend Getaway

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If the idea of a tech-free weekend sounds like the perfect getaway, you’re sure to love Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa. The hotel is located on the city’s far west side, just minutes from SeaWorld and a 15-minute drive to Fiesta Texas and The Shops at La Cantera.

Begin your day by claiming a seat in one of the courtyard area’s slightly oversized rocking chairs. It’s the ideal spot for catching a sunrise while watching butterflies flutter between the cheery yellow blooms of the many native Esperanza plants dotting the property. Before the sun rises too high in the South Texas sky, try exploring the resort’s many beautiful nature trails, either on foot or via one of the complimentary bikes provided for guest use.

The hotel offers a continuous stream of outdoor activities throughout the day, including sand volleyball, horseshoes, tennis, and badminton. Guests with a highly competitive streak may want to challenge fellow lodgers to an oversized lawn game of Jenga, Connect Four, or chess.

The hotel’s popular lazy river is well-shaded by sturdy oaks and offers a welcoming oasis from the scorching midday heat. More adventurous guests will enjoy spending time at the lively surf and wakeboard area (for an extra fee).

After working up a hearty appetite, make reservations at the acclaimed Antlers Lodge, which is located on-site. It features locally harvested farm-to-table ingredients and makes a nice spot for a quiet candlelit dinner. The highlight of the restaurant’s décor is a chandelier created from 500 naturally-shed antlers. For drinks, Charlie’s Long Bar is about as Texan as it gets. The 56-foot bar provides a unique focal point for the saloon.

In the evening, guests can cuddle on blankets provided by the hotel and watch nostalgic movies on the lawn while snacking on complimentary popcorn. Afterward, relax and enjoy a cool Hill Country breeze while roasting s’mores over the open fire pit.

Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa

Top rated
San Antonio, 12.6 miles to Alamodome
8.9 Excellent (2016 reviews)
Excellent Service 9 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

A Presidential Favorite

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You know you’ve stumbled across a rare piece of history when you have the opportunity to stay in a hotel patronized by at least twelve U.S. presidents. The Historic Menger Hotel is a true Texas icon and the oldest continually operating hotel west of the Mississippi. (It’s built on the actual grounds where the Battle of the Alamo took place.) The story of the hotel, which opened in 1859, is perhaps best told through the collection of museum-worthy photographs and memorabilia lining the walls of its lobby.

The stately Menger Bar is where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders for the Spanish-American War, and the very table where he sat is still on display within the hotel. He returned to the bar not long after his election to the presidency, and a long line of commanders in chief followed suit — from Woodrow Wilson to George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Other notable guests include Oscar Wilde, Bob Dylan, and John Wayne. Actress Mae West even has a suite named in her honor.

Any hotel on the National Register of Historic Places is bound to have at least one claim to fame, and the Menger doesn’t disappoint with multiple noteworthy anecdotes. Aside from its famous guests, it shares a few infamous ones as well — in the form of ghostly apparitions. Nearly 50 spirits are said to haunt the Menger, and the hotel is a preferred stop for avid ghost hunters, as well as the TV shows chronicling their stories.

Perhaps the ghosts are drawn to the Colonial Room Restaurant’s famous peach mango ice cream? It’s been a staple on the menu for more than 100 years. There’s even an autographed photo in the lobby of President Clinton indulging in a bite of the sweet treat.

In addition to its many other claims to fame, the hotel is also home to the largest outdoor pool in San Antonio. The pool is heated seasonally from November to February, so guests are able to enjoy a dip year-round. The adjacent Spanish Courtyard garden provides a relaxing respite from the surrounding touristy downtown area.

Menger Hotel

San Antonio, 0.8 miles to Alamodome
8.0 Very good (7170 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.5 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Gym
Hotel CTA

A Spa Respite on the Riverwalk

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Mokara Hotel & Spa offers world-class spa treatments and a tranquil retreat for couples who require a quiet sanctuary to relax and recharge before heading out for a night on the town. Guests seeking fresh air might enjoy a dip in the hotel’s small heated rooftop pool while keeping an eye out for the occasional shooting star. The rooftop area is surprisingly quiet and rather intimate during the evening hours, and the lack of giant skyscrapers means you’re able to see vast expanses of open sky.

Mokara’s rooms include soaking tubs made for two, separate showers, and luxurious bath amenities from Gilchrist & Soames. For the ultimate amorous indulgence, be sure to request a custom bath drawn by one of the hotel’s bath butlers. Afterward, treat yourself to fresh fruit delivered during the evening turndown service. Many rooms offer small, personal balconies which make the ideal spot for savoring a cup of morning coffee while watching scenes from the Riverwalk unfold below.

Mokara’s convenient location adjacent to the Riverwalk means guests can easily stroll to many of the city’s top attractions, including The Alamo, which is less than half a mile away. Other notables include the San Antonio Art Museum, historic Market Square, and the charming arts and crafts center at La Villita.

Couples seeking a romantic evening out can select from some of the Riverwalk’s finest restaurants, including Boudro’s Texas Bistro (for classic San Antonio fare), Paesanos (fine Italian dining), and Azuca (the first Nuevo Latino restaurant in town).

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Mokara Hotel & Spa

Top rated
San Antonio, 0.9 miles to Alamodome
9.3 Excellent (1746 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.6 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

A Legend Reborn

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After a multi-million-dollar makeover and years of extensive remodeling work, The St. Anthony has finally returned to its former glory as a gathering place for the city’s elite. The luxury hotel, which opened in 1909, was once the place to be seen by San Antonio socialites and politicians, like Olivia de Havilland of Gone with the Wind fame and Clara Bow, who was nicknamed “the It girl” in addition to presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 2013, BC Lynd Hospitality’s renovation team sought to restore the hotel to its original grandeur by removing past mistakes and uncovering original plaster ceilings and Italian marble floors, eliminating rooms that served little purpose and revamping the hotel’s rooftop pool. The resulting transformation reveals an opulent beauty, once again befitting its original title as “Queen of San Antonio.” First-time guests are immediately drawn to the lobby’s lavish Peacock Alley with its rows of sparkling original chandeliers and a custom Steinway piano that was made-to-order by the Russian government for its embassy in Paris.

The hotel’s signature color, “St. Anthony green,” a vibrant shade of emerald, is a recurring theme throughout the suites and in all of the common areas. The modern and beautifully-appointed rooms contain Bose speakers, walk-in showers with waterfall shower heads and separate spacious bathtubs, pillow-top mattresses, and 300-thread-count Fili D’oro linens.

From the top shelf bar found at the St. A Sky Terrace’s heated rooftop pool to the superb cuisine offered during Sunday brunch at Gallery On the Park, this elegantly restored treasure has rightfully reclaimed its place as one of the preeminent luxury hotels in San Antonio.

The St. Anthony, A Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio

San Antonio, 1 miles to Alamodome
8.1 Very good (1468 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Gym
Hotel CTA

Industrial Chic in a Culinary Corner

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Hotel Emma is a luxurious 146-room boutique property that makes no apologies for its humble beginnings as a 19th-century brewhouse. From the moment guests enter the lobby of the former Pearl Brewery building, its hard-working past is evident by the room’s star attraction: a colossal engine covered in firehouse red chipped paint. The engine provides a unique backdrop for the perfectly worn leather seating and intimate gathering spots placed strategically throughout the lobby.

The hotel is also home to a 3,700-volume library curated from the personal collection of author Sherry Kafka Wagner. The welcoming space beckons visitors to relax and sit a spell while delving deeper into the city’s 300-year history.

There’s so much to do in the area immediately surrounding the hotel that guests need not leave the premises of the Pearl complex to have a good time. It’s home to beautifully landscaped River Walk trails, a year-round Saturday farmers market, and a satellite campus of the Culinary Institute of America.

The complex sits on the northmost end of San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk and is a hotspot for local foodies. Acclaimed restaurants, The Granary, Cured, and Boiler House, are each within walking distance of the property. Supper is the hotel’s own farm-to-table style eatery. For a more relaxed atmosphere, try sampling the street foods of Mexico at nearby La Gloria.

Hotel Emma’s Sternewirth Tavern & Club Room makes the ideal spot for a nightcap. As one might expect from a South Texas hotel, the bar comes well-stocked with top-shelf tequila. Sternewirth’s most coveted seating can be found in former fermentation tanks cleverly repurposed into circular banquettes.

The staff at Hotel Emma are exceptionally welcoming, and guests can expect to be spoiled with delightful macarons from Bakery Lorraine at turndown service, custom Guayabera robes, and morning coffee from Merit Roasting Co.

Unconventional guest rooms intertwine modern elements with Old-World charm. In the bathrooms, the vintage-style claw foot tubs and elegant brass fixtures conjure images of gilded Parisian mansions, while Mexican saddle-hide benches and plush bedding juxtapose flawlessly against rustic concrete tiles and exposed brick walls in the sleeping areas.

Hotel Emma

Top rated
San Antonio, 1.8 miles to Alamodome
9.1 Excellent (319 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

A Theatre Lover's Dream

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Hotel Valencia sits in a prime location on a quiet stretch of the San Antonio Riverwalk. It’s situated near the landmark Majestic Theatre, Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, and the historic Aztec Theatre. Whether you’re in town to catch a Broadway show or prefer seeing a local act, Valencia makes an excellent starting point for a performance-filled weekend.

While you’re all dressed up for an evening out, be sure to stop by Bohanan’s Prime Steak and Seafood to sample their tender Akaushi beef. The restaurant is home to the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, and its attentive mixologists learned their craft from the legendary Sasha Petraske of New York City’s famed Milk & Honey bar.

Hotel Valencia underwent a full renovation in 2017, which resulted in a 2018 “Top Hotels in Texas” nod from Condé Nast readers. Guests love the ultra-plush bath towels and multiple pillow options in each of the rooms. Interior room options are quiet, well-lit, and face beautiful courtyard views, while exterior rooms feature balconies overlooking impressive River Walk vistas. The citrusy scent of the hotel’s signature fragrance, Sevilla, is infused into the air in the lobby and available for guests to purchase as a spray or in candle form.

If you’re visiting during the holiday season, consider Hotel Valencia’s “Light Up the Night” holiday package, which includes a complimentary riverboat tour under millions of twinkling lights. Even if it’s not the Christmas season, be sure to stop in nearby St. Mary’s Catholic Church to see its massive sanctuary adorned with striking gold-leafed ceilings and rows of vibrant stained-glass windows. The thought-provoking “Homeless Jesus” statue can be found on the side of the church, outdoors. The bronze figurine, created by Sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz, depicts a homeless man at rest under a blanket on a park bench. Only the crucifixion wounds on his bare feet hint at his identity. The poignant inscription reads “In truth, I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least brothers of mine, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

Top rated
San Antonio, 1 miles to Alamodome
8.7 Excellent (6398 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Gym
Restaurant
Hotel CTA

R&R in a Texas Hill Country Setting

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Located in far north central San Antonio, the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is ideal for avid golfers and anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors. The hotel’s sprawling lazy river is a popular spot to cool down from the Texas heat — so much so that locals often book “staycations” at the resort. During the winter season, the water is heated to a comfortable 75-80 degrees.

Guests can tee off at their choice of two 18-hole TPC courses designed by legendary golfers Greg Norman and Pete Dye. The course is notably home to the Valero Texas Open for one week each year in April. TPC’s rolling hills overlook hundreds of acres of Hill Country vistas, where golfers often spot deer silhouetted against the fading colors of a South Texas sunset.

On-site dining options include Cibolo Moon, which offers a wide variety of Tex-Mex options, and 18 Oaks, where the chef consistently delivers crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside steaks with every order.

For a varied menu the entire family can enjoy, try dining al fresco at nearby La Hacienda de Los Barrios, which offers live music and is a preferred restaurant amongst locals. Approximately 15 minutes north of the hotel, in the small town of Bulverde, guests can “eat like a Texan” at Tejas Rodeo, and then watch live bull riding and mutton busting at the local rodeo or two-step the night away on the dance floor.

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch & Natural Bridge Caverns are unique nearby attractions. Families can drive through the 400-acre ranch and feed exotic animals directly from the car, then explore hidden passageways deep within the caverns.

The staff’s attention to guests is noteworthy. After a day filled with activities, guests can opt for any number of lavish treatments at The JW’s own Lantana Spa. The Moroccan Heated Stone Massage is particularly relaxing.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa

Top rated
San Antonio, 17.9 miles to Alamodome
9.0 Excellent (1402 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

Feature image courtesy of Matthew LeJune, Unsplash