If you’re looking for a stylish, boutique hotel in Houston to stay for a day or two then Hotel Sorella could be perfect for you. Although we were there with our teenagers, it’s grown-up kind of place where you can chill out and enjoy the shopping, great bars and restaurants and vibrant nightlife of the City Centre neighbourhood. Hotel Sorella is the kind of hotel that would be great for a business stopover, a couple’s getaway or for groups of friends who want to have relaxing days and fun evenings out.
After a 10 day roadtrip through Texas, taking in San Antonio and Austin we were back where we started in Houston, pulling up at Hotel Sorella for our final night before flying back to the UK. A few twists and turns from Interstate 10 and we found ourselves in the City Centre area, a relatively new development on the west side of Houston that combines smart loft style apartments, upscale shopping, all the bars and restaurants that you could wish for and a few other leisure activities such as the Studio Movie Grill where you can have a meal while watching the movie.
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Hotel Sorella sits at the centre of the development overlooking the green, landscaped area of the City Centre Plaza with trees, water pools and fountains surrounded on three sides by restaurants and shops. We were directed to the multi-level car parking that sits behind the hotel, finding a space on the upper level, right beside the entrance into the hotel – thank goodness for the free parking!
Wheeling our cases through the walkway we found ourselves in the lounge area of the hotel, arriving at the first floor reception desk to check in. The hotel really starts from one floor up and is also accessible from the Plaza by a glass lobby with wooden stairway and lift, continuing through several floors of rooms above and penthouse suites at the very top. Although the hotel looks like a smart apartment block from the outside, once you get inside it is like walking into a European interior design magazine with lots of floor to ceiling windows giving light and views in all directions over the City centre area.
Taking the lift up to our rooms on the fifth floor we found ourselves in our L-shaped Junior suite with plenty of bedroom space and a working area with a round table and leather designer chairs as well as a luxurious aubergine crushed-velvet daybed where you might flick through glossy magazines featuring the best of Houston dining and shopping. Our room had hardwood floors and furniture the colour of dark roasted coffee beans, with milky latte walls and throws on the bed and pale lime accents in the chairs and bathroom. We loved the curvy sillhouette of the bedside lamps, the rounded bedside tables and the contrasting textures from chocolate satin curtains at the floor to ceiling windows, to the textured cream rugs on the floor.
Of course the rooms also had every convenience you could wish for too – a mini bar fridge, flat screen TVs, free Wifi, iron and ironing boards, hairdryer and plenty of wardrobe space. Our teenagers were in the twin queen room through a connecting door, which we found to be an ideal arrangement for families and available in all the hotels we stayed in Texas.
The clean lines continued into the bathroom with dark wood storage and vanity units, contemporary Italian style bathroom fixtures and a lime accent wall with a large well-lit mirror. There was a large bath with a giant shower head above and all the toiletries and other useful items you might need to feel pampered.
Hotel Sorella is part of the Valencia group of hotels with properties in San Jose, Austin and San Antonio where we very much enjoyed our stay in the Italian Palazzo style of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. The hotel group takes its design inspiration from Mediterranean Europe with a sophisticated, modern style and a muted colour palate. I felt like I was in an advertisement for some upmarket drink where the beautiful people lounge around at a cocktail party on sleek sofas with lots of glass and marble.
On the first floor was a small rooftop pool, overlooking the Plaza, adjoining the Mona Lisa Bar, surrounded by day beds with canopies. I suspect that most people would use the area as an extension of the bar for night-time lounging rather than doing any serious swimming but it was very attractive to sit out and you could spy on all the people below having dinner or drinks in the plaza.
We’d just about settled into our rooms and had a short stroll to stretch our legs when it was time to go down for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Bistro Alex. The contemporary lines of the rest of the hotel carried through into the restaurant decor although I could feel a little bit more of Texas creeping in, with the polished concrete floor that looked a bit like squares of distressed leather and the rough hewn planks of mesquite wood that lined the floor and ceiling. On the way in we passed a wall of wine and were seated at comfortable padded chairs, with midnight blue velvet banquettes along the walls and the candles flickering in blue glasses. The atmosphere was quite grown up but in Texas you can never get too far from your cowboy roots, and I noticed that all the waiters wore blue jeans.
Bistro Alex is known as a Brennan Family Restaurant and specialises in Texan Creole cuisine – the Brennan family having a big reputation through their other restaurants in New Orleans and Houston among their culinary enterprises. The menu features Southern favourites such as the rich, meaty turtle soup that I tried with a swirl of sherry as well as seafood from the Gulf – the boys tried some kalamari which they love to eat when we go to Greece and was served in a tall paper cone. We were offered an unusual canape that was a take on the Jewish Deli sandwich with beef tongue and brussel sprout pickle on rye bread with a dehydrated wafer of pastrami. Not impressed by the fancy Creole cooking, the boys settled for a Texan steak and fries but I wanted to try the signature dish – a delicious combination of succulent scallops with crayfish in a spicy seafood sauce and a tricolour potato salad.
As is typical in Texas there were free refills of sodas for the children and the service was so attentive that my oldest must have had 10 lemonades by the time the meal was over – no sooner had he drunk one glass but it was full again, like magic! For desert I was enjoying my lemon bread budding with a chocolate sauce and a touch of cinnamon, when the waitress announced that she was bringing us a surprise. “It’s the bill” quipped William, but instead we were brought a pretty plate of iced sorbets – raspberry, mango and lemon. We enjoyed our dinner at Bistro Alex and while there were robust and hearty flavours in many of the dishes, there was also plenty that our less adventurous teenagers could enjoy. After dinner we left the kids glued to their flat screen TV and wandered out into the warm air of the Plaza where the trees were garlanded with blue lights as if it was Christmas and the braziers were flaming in the water features. Somehow the Texans have to get a camp fire reference in there, even in the sophisticated metropolis of Houston.
In the morning we enjoyed the complimentary continental style breakfast that was served in the lounge area, with healthy fruit salad, yoghurts, cereals and pastries. The lounge doubles as a bar area in the evening with a meeting room of frosted glass with white leather chairs for all those oil execs to do their deals. Having once made my family wait in the hot sun in Venice while I bargained for a coloured glass chandelier, I was quite envious of the lime green Murano glass chandelier hanging over our breakfast table.
We had the morning free before we had to leave for the airport and decided to use it to look around the neighbourhood and do a bit of shopping. By day the atmosphere was much more family oriented, with mums and kids sitting on the grass blowing bubbles and ladies who lunch meeting up with their friends, with the odd business person getting their take-out cup of coffee. The shops were lovely and I was tempted by a t-shirt in Anthropologie, while my daughter persuaded me to buy her a pretty lace mini dress in Urban Outfitters (“But Mum – I’ll pay you back”). The ladies will have a field day wandering around the area – unlike Austin where we pretty much drive drove from one place the next, here you could park and walk around the streets, doing some window shopping or stopping for a coffee. In that respect the whole area had a more European feel than some other places we’d visited in Texas. Sadly we couldn’t stay much longer, but fortunately City Centre is a short distance from the tollway that circles Houston, so it was a painless drive to the airport – and Hotel Sorella made a lovely ending for our Texas holiday. My daughter now wants to be an interior designer – I wonder why?
Hotel Sorella, 800 Sorella Court, Houston, Texas 77024
What we loved about Hotel Sorella
- The stylish, modern interiors with a sophisticated European feel
- Bistro Alex with its upscale but relaxed dining and flavoursome Creole dishes, although there were familiar dishes that our children enjoyed too.
- The friendly staff on reception and in the restaurant
- The vibrant City Centre neighbourhood – ideal if you want to have a day or two relaxing, shopping and eating with great nightlife too
- The free parking in the multi-story parking right next door
- Hotel Sorella is ideal for couples, groups of friends, families with teenage children, business trips
- The hotel is conveniently placed if you are driving in and out of town or need good access to the airport, as it’s very close to Interstate 10 and the Sam Houston Tollway that circles the city.
But it may not be right for you if…
- You have young children – Hotel Sorella is fine for teenagers and older children but it’s more of a sophisticated place that you would stay on business or for a couple’s getaway
- You want to spend most of your time sightseeing in the Downtown area as it’s a 20-30 minute drive into the centre of Houston
More tales from our Texas holiday
Thanks to Hotel Sorella who hosted our stay and dinner at Bistro Alex
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