Once labeled one of America’s five “Secretly Cool Cities” the much loved – major city in south-central Texas is a popular destination for a unique city break. Alongside its more famous attractions like Six Flags Fiesta, The Riverwalk, and the historic Alamo site is distinctive heritage, art, and culture, awesome farmer’s markets, cool coffee shops, plenty of craft beer on tap and hipster-friendly neighborhoods such as Five Points, Midtown, Lone Star and Dignowity Hill. If you’re looking for interesting and special places to stay, here are 15 cool and unusual hotels in San Antonio Texas (in no particular order)…
1. Thompson San Antonio, Riverwalk – a swish modern hotel offering gorgeous city views
On the banks of the San Antonio River, a short walk from the Performing Arts Center and many trendy nightspots, is the sleek, rather lovely-looking Thompson San Antonio. This is a 21st-century hotel of impressive proportions, a genuine landmark. Styled outside to reflect the vast desert cityscape in acres of glass – inside it is brilliantly designed with a crisp, chic almost retro-modern Thunderbirds-are-Go feeling.
On the fourth floor is a stunning pool deck with private luxury cabanas. Alongside the pool, are lounge areas, a pool bar, and occasionally live music. In the evening grab a table at the award-winning Moon’s Daughters, an exciting indoor-outdoor rooftop restaurant and bar on the 20th story with panoramic views across the city and an unforgettable display of the vast desert sky as the sunsets.
- To book, check prices or availability for Thompson San Antonio, Riverwalk
2. Hotel Emma at Pearl on the Riverwalk – a hip, offbeat, upscale hotel housed in a former 19th-century Brewhouse
On the doorstep of Brackenridge Park is this stunning converted brewery. More French château than beer factory; if anywhere can be described as grande boutique, this is it. The stunningly implanted décor oozes history, style, and quality mixed with South Texas geniality. For the full experience, book into one of their glorious top-floor suites; be early enough to take afternoon cocktails in the library.
Follow this with a stroll along the San Antonio riverbank and return for a dip in the rooftop pool before supper. While the culinary scene inside the walls of Hotel Emma is rich and dynamic, the surrounding Pearl campus is an exhilaratingly dense neighborhood of some of the best restaurants, bars and cafés in Texas.
- To book, check prices or availability Hotel Emma at Pearl on the Riverwalk
3. Hotel Havana – stylish themed accommodation with antiques-filled rooms and suites housed in a 1914 property
On a quiet stretch of the North Riverwalk, yet still in the heart of the action, is the genuinely delightful Hotel Havana. Originally built in 1914 as a private casa grande, and somehow surviving whilst the city grew around it, this whitewashed Spanish colonial architecture perfectly complements a lush river frontage.
There are just 27 uniquely beautiful heritage rooms ranging from studios to suites all furnished with gentle elegance and imagination. Hotel Havana has its own exquisite Cuban-inspired restaurant, Ocho, serving drinks and food downstairs in the hotel basement and upstairs on the riverfront. For a truly memorable break, try to book the penthouse for the full charm of genuine old-world chic.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Havana San Antonio
4. Mokara Hotel & Spa – a unique and elegant upscale hotel across the street from the San Antonio River
The Mokara Hotel and Spa occupies a 19th-century building in the heart of old San Antonio on the banks of the Riverwalk. But this hotel isn’t a fusty relic it’s a clean, contemporary space beautifully designed with a sumptuous rooftop pool and enormous spa. There are bright balconied rooms with leafy river views, a welcoming classically styled lobby and the renowned Ostra Restaurant on the Riverwalk serving some of the finest fresh seafood cuisine you can find 150 miles from the ocean.
The Mokara is an oasis of stylish relaxation with 19 spa treatment rooms offering massage, hot tubs, and therapies away from the heat of the Texas day. For the most memorable moments enjoy an evening cocktail at the Rooftop Café overlooking breath-taking downtown views.
- To book, check prices or availability for Mokara Hotel & Spa
5. Hotel Valencia Riverwalk – a boutique hotel nestled on the banks of the historic San Antonio River Walk
An exquisite deco-like building on the banks of the river. Hotel Valencia is a sleek, graceful destination full of Mediterranean flavors. There is a central courtyard with fountains where tangos are occasionally danced surrounded by colorful wooden balconies as high as the fifth floor.
Inside you encounter beautiful, paneled rooms and carved wood, an impressive wrought-iron staircase and enchanting terrace restaurant perched amongst the palms by the river. Everything about this place says elegant luxury but in a boutique South Texas styling with a dash of old Spain. For the perfect stay book a courtyard room and eat exclusive Argentinian cuisine in Dorrego’s, serenaded by a live Flamenco guitarist.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Valencia Riverwalk
6. Riverwalk Plaza Hotel – a contemporary hotel with original artwork and funky creative decor
From the outside this hotel appears somewhat dour; like a small 1980s multi-story car park or the back end of a shopping mall. But don’t let that fool you, because inside the love is clearly visible. Plenty of natural materials, stylish shapes, and greenery produce an enchanting feeling of spaciousness and calm. There’s a lovely little on-site bar and café, a decent gym, and even a small outdoor heated pool in a central courtyard.
Many of the rooms have balconies and all are designed with that restful theme of natural, simple, comfort. Riverwalk Plaza Hotel is so close to the river that it’s practically in it – so you get instant access to all the best of San Antonio on the doorstep.
- To book, check prices or availability for Riverwalk Plaza Hotel
7. The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio – a grand historic hotel built in 1909 located very near San Antonio River Walk
The St Anthony is a traditionally opulent hotel overlooking Travis Park in the downtown center of historic San Antonio. In places, it is more reminiscent of a castillo than a hotel with grand, impressive spaces, chandeliers, and Italian marble fireplaces much of which dates from its construction in 1909 and all of which now carries splashes of its trademark peacock green.
This genuinely is traditional old-world splendor in the heart of the city. A stay here gives you a choice of five of the hotel’s upscale restaurants, including the vibrant Cabana Bar located next to the rooftop infinity pool (yes, there are a few modern additions), and 13 event rooms, which have hosted global politicians, royals, and celebrities for over 100 years.
- To book, check prices or availability for St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel
8. Canopy By Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk – a sleek hotel located opposite the San Antonio River
Hilton has constructed something very special here. On a tiny site by the river they have shoe-horned an exciting, interesting, vibrant hotel that totally exploits its location to feel like some kind of tropical treehouse. At the Riverwalk level they have very cleverly incorporated the ruins of the previous stone building into a gorgeous open-air restaurant.
A few floors up at Canopy By Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk there’s a little bar with balconies overlooking the river and above that, storeys of rooms with views or balconies getting better and better with the height. Canopy is exactly the right name for this beautiful hotel and the location couldn’t be better with the Riverwalk and city amenities right outside.
- To book, check prices or availability for Canopy By Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk
9. Hotel Indigo San Antonio Riverwalk, an IHG Hotel – an upscale, beautiful boutique hotel located on the Museum Reach of the world-famous River Walk
This Hotel Indigo is right on the Riverwalk – there’s even a water-taxi stop outside. Built to look like a grand, Spanish-style villa on the exterior, they’ve resisted the urge for faux Latino on the inside by trying to keep the décor simple and comfortable yet with enough individual touches to stop it feeling corporate.
There’s a good restaurant nestled along the river frontage and a small outside pool with a bar. Location is key here with the upbeat, energetic downtown and the pleasantly picturesque old town nearby. This neighborhood also hosts a burgeoning arts scene, which includes the Southwest School of Art, the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Culinary Arts Institute at the Pearl, and the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts – did somebody mention art?
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Indigo San Antonio Riverwalk
10. Eilan Hotel and Spa, Ascend Resort Collection – an upscale Tuscan-inspired resort on the edge of scenic Texas Hill Country
On the very northern edge of San Antonio, close to the ranches, lakes and hill country of rural Texas is Éilan Hotel in the center of a timeshare complex. It has all the tranquillity and amenities you would expect in a resort, all wrapped in a unique pseudo-Tuscan style with a cabana-lined, outdoor pool, tennis courts, lovely comprehensive spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor pool and even a virtual golf room.
Surrounded by upscale shops and eateries at La Cantera, this is the perfect place for families or groups to unwind or relax away from the city – and, it’s only 20 minutes to the city center for a bit of exploring.
- To book, check prices or availability for Eilan Hotel and Spa
11. Hilton Palacio del Rio – a modern Spanish themed set on the buzzing River Walk
On a pretty little bend of the San Antonio River, with the Hemisfair Park right behind, is the Hilton Palacio del Rio. From a distance, this tall, austere building appears vaguely Soviet-styled, but on the inside, the styles and vibrancy are more reminiscent of a smashed piñata than a Cold War monolith.
The designers have thrown every color imaginable on their palettes to produce an energizing, exciting, fun ambiance that works brilliantly. There’s a charming rooftop pool and a delightful riverside restaurant. It’s directly on the famous Riverwalk with river taxis stopping outside. Surrounded by shopping, dining, and nightlife; the Henry B. González Convention Center is one block away and just a five-minute walk from the Rivercenter Mall and the Alamo.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hilton Palacio del Rio
12. Omni La Mansión del Rio – a luxe spa Spanish-influenced lodging with dining and a poolside bar
If the cabildo had built hotels, it would have looked like this; Roman arches, metal balconies, stone courtyards, water features, oak paneling, and damasks abound. Omni La Mansión del Rio reproduces a beautiful slice of the Spanish colonial era carefully tweaked to suit modern European luxury.
Nestled along the historic River Walk in downtown San Antonio, this elegant grand hacienda allows you to easily explore all San Antonio’s beloved tourist attractions. This is a big hotel, with over 300 guest rooms, but it manages to somehow feel small. There’s a lovely little courtyard pool with a great cocktail bar and a beautiful restaurant that reaches in stages right down to the riverside.
- To book, check prices or availability for Omni La Mansión del Rio
13. O’Brien Riverwalk Boutique Hotel – a cozy petite boutique classic hotel offering true southern Texas hospitality
In the absolute heart of San Antonio is the independent, historic O’Brien Hotel. A rare survivor of the old Victorian streets. This very traditional hotel is just a block from the riverside shops and bars of the San Antonio Riverwalk on the edge of the vibrant La Vilita Arts Village, and close to The Alamo and the Tower of the Americas observation deck – a perfect base for exploring the city.
There are just 39 rooms simply, yet comfortably styled with a twang of Texas saloon, some have city views and some have balconies. Here there isn’t an endless list of in-house amenities – just old-fashioned Texan hospitality and a city to explore just beyond the porch.
- To book, check prices or availability for O’Brien Riverwalk Boutique Hotel
14. Hotel Gibbs Downtown San Antonio Riverwalk – a polished unique hotel in a 19th-century building
Located in the grounds of the original Alamo compound, Hotel Gibbs was built by Colonel C.C. Gibbs in 1909 as San Antonio’s first high-rise building. This magnificent property has been transformed into a luxurious and modern boutique hotel while maintaining the original characteristics of the city’s most treasured historical building. Rather than attempt to reproduce a faux traditional interior, it has been styled in a relaxing, colorful, contemporary fashion that maximizes daylight with a comfortable ambiance.
There’s a fitness center, business space, and breakfast café, but no restaurant – located just 100 feet from the iconic San Antonio River Walk, this hotel is surrounded with the very best of local shops, restaurants, and attractions. There is, however, an excellent taproom on-site featuring Texas craft beer and a fantastic variety of locally sourced wines.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Gibbs Downtown San Antonio Riverwalk
15. Barsala at the ‘68, San Antonio – cool self-catering accommodation perfect for an extended stay
Explore all that San Antonio has to offer in these modern condos situated in the Hemisfair area of Downtown. Right across the street from Yanaguana Garden, this location is good for joggers, or anyone looking to escape for leisurely strolls. When you are feeling more adventurous, the Hemisfair area has everything you might need – trendy restaurants, bars, and shops are all at your fingertips.
Many of these condos have stunning views of the Tower of Americas and the brilliant San Antonio skyline. The condos themselves are set apart by their high ceilings, large windows, private balconies, and premium kitchens. Staying here, you will also have access to the building’s fitness center, pickleball court, and the onsite restaurant, creamery, and winery.
- To book, check prices or availability for Barsala at the ‘68, San Antonio
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My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I’ve lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I’m a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian – from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world and running Global Grasshopper, you’ll find me walking my rescued Greek street dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Lanes on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Laos, California and the surreally beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.