Day Trips

If you are looking for excellent service and extreme comfort, the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk may be the answer

The Hotel Valencia Riverwalk
The Hotel Valencia Riverwalk (Photo By Gerald E. McLeod)

The Hotel Valencia Riverwalk in San Antonio sweats the details. From the bellmen and -women at the front door to the bathroom soaps, comfort and service are evident in everything about this world-class hotel.

Opened in January 2003 as the flagship of a new national brand of small luxury hotels with headquarters in Houston, the Hotel Valencia is a brave mixture of chic and practical. The cool lighting and dark wood walls with polished metals are accented by the attentive service of the staff.

From the corner of Houston Street and St. Mary's Street in the northwest portion of downtown, the 213-room hotel appears unassuming from the outside. European-style architectural flourishes at the top of the 12-story building give a hint of the romantic blend of Old World and New World inside the building.

The rooms are fastidiously appointed with custom-made furniture and accoutrements. Many of the guest quarters have private balconies overlooking a courtyard. The windows on the backside of the hotel overlook a scenic portion of the Riverwalk. The four suites in a semiround tower at one corner of the building offer spacious accommodations and dramatic views of the historic intersection below.

Patronized by guests and San Antonio residents, the hotel's restaurant and bar are among the city's finest dining experiences. The hotel's patio terraces overlooking the San Antonio River provide an excellent spot to partake in refreshments while relaxing or enjoying the fine art of conversation.

The hotel is owned and operated by the Valencia Group of Houston, which also has the Hotel Valencia Santana Row in San Jose, Calif. The San Antonio hotel was built around the facade of the historic Maverick Building. The developers reused the original brick in the outer wall, creating a fresh exterior that preserved the building's historic character.

Los Angeles-based designer Dodd Mitchell designed the interior of the hotel using elements of water, fire, wood, and stone for a natural, but modern ambience. The centerpiece of the design is the courtyard with its nearly three-story-high wall of water dramatically reflecting flames shooting from the pool at the bottom. When not being used for weddings and private receptions, the courtyard provides a quiet hideaway for couples and small groups.

Whether for the business traveler or for a romantic weekend, the Hotel Valencia offers luxury amenities that make an overnight stay as comfortable as possible. The beds are custom-made to give a restful night's sleep. Even the shower heads are extra large to provide added comfort. That level of detail led the managers to provide guests with an exclusive line of complimentary, all-natural personal-care products.

The hotel also offers a 24-hour fitness room and spa service. Each room comes with high-speed Internet access at the bedside and desk, plus wireless access in common areas. Valet parking and meeting facilities are available.

Although there are several fine restaurants within walking distance, chef Jeffery Balfour's Citrus Restaurant in the hotel is an experience worth indulging. The menu is a creative mix of New American cuisine with Spanish accents. The list includes something for almost every taste with Gulf shrimp, antelope loin, wild salmon, beef steaks, rack of lamb, and sweet-potato-stuffed quail.

The restaurant offers a breakfast buffet beginning at 6am and a lunch buffet at 11am. Dinner after 6pm almost always requires a reservation, especially on weekends.

The Hotel Valencia Riverwalk is at 150 E. Houston St. The hotel is half a block from the Majestic Theatre and the Empire Theatre. The famous Alameda Theater is a few blocks away. Room rates range from $135 to $395 a night. For more information, call 210/227-9700 or 866/842-0100. To visit their Web site, go to www.hotelvalencia.com.

661th in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of Day Trips 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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