Hotel Valencia rises from the San Antonio Riverwalk with a shades-of-ochre facade that is distinctly Mediterranean rather than North American. This luxury San Antonio hotel takes its design inspiration from an old world Italian palazzo although the teracotta roof tiles also reminded me of the South American haciendas that I’ve visited on my travels. Inside the outlook is modern with a European feel and the refreshing sounds of water greet you as you enter the lobby. Many of the rooms overlook the Riverwalk or the internal courtyard with balconies entwined with pink bougainvillea, although there’s no washing hanging out to dry that you might find in some traditional Italian neighbourhoods!
Although the Hotel Valencia exterior hints at old world Italian influences, the bedrooms are stylishly modern – with stone coloured walls, dark polished woods, over-sized framed mirrors and geometric lamps. We stayed in a Junior suite with a view over the Riverwalk and a semi-circular mouse-brown velvet seating area set in the curve of the windows that was perfect to enjoy an evening drink or to flick through the glossy magazines showcasing the best of Texas and San Antonio. Luxurious fake fur throws covered the beds and there were squashy leather armchairs and desk spaces in each room with a Tivoli radio by the bed as well as a flat screen TV (not one but two in our suite – oh joy!). With the wooden plantation shutters and subdued lighting the atmosphere was sophisticated and romantic, a place to come back to and relax after a day’s sightseeing although I could have done with a decent reading light to curl up with a good book.
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In the adjoining room, through the connecting door, our children had another beautiful room all to themselves but this time with two Queen beds, the ideal combination for staying together as a family. Beautiful as the room was, it didn’t take long for them to cover every surface with clothes and assorted debris, so thanks goodness I didn’t have to look at it. We had a lockable fridge stocked with all the mini-bar drinks you could wish for and a tray of snacks that you could purchase, as well as a coffee making machine to make a hot brew – oh and free wifi of course. The bathrooms felt particularly luxurious, especially the one in our suite with elegant textured wall-covering, wood and white marble vanity area with stainless steel sink and accessories. The bath had a shower above, with white cotton pique curtain and deliciously citrus-scented toiletries. I was all set for some pampering me-time which was thwarted by the children who also found our bathroom rather congenial and kept coming in to use it instead of their own.
Unusually the reception of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk is up a flight of stairs from the street entrance and I noticed had a useful business area, with a choice of PC or Mac, nearby. The staff were all lovely and helped me with plenty of sightseeing information about things to visit in San Antonio, advice on jogging routes and where to hire bikes. On the same floor is the award winning Citrus restaurant where the team led by Executive Chef Jeff Balfour serve upscale reinventions of Texan cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant overlooks the Riverwalk and you can choose to eat al fresco on the terrace, or inside the restaurant with the same polished dark woods and modern interiors with red highlights. Although we didn’t eat in the Citrus restaurant, thinking it would be wasted on our teenagers, it was the sort of place I’d love dine a deux with my dearly beloved if we were able to appreciate the fine food with no distractions from younger family members who just want steak and chips.
Next to the Citrus Restaurant is the sophisticated V Bar with a chain metal curtain separating the cocktail bar from the more intimate cushioned seating area, where amber glass lights glow above a bubbling water feature. In the curved window overlooking the Riverwalk, are easy chairs and and black cubes for tables where the dark, iridescent table tops reflect flickering candles. As I explored these rather grown-up parts of the hotel, my eye was caught by a cabinet full of colourful glass fruit, each signed by a celebrity who had visited Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. It’s always reassuring to find that you’re keeping company with media moguls such as Simon Cowell, musical giants like Sting, or style queens Jennifer Lopez and Eva Longoria even though none of them were in residence at the time.
There are no shortage of things to see within a short walk of Hotel Valencia and I reckon that you could spend a week just exploring the things that are on or near the Riverwalk. We decided to leave our car parked for most of our stay and paid $29 + tax per day to make use of the hotel’s valet parking service. Not cheap and we could have self-parked in one of the downtown car parks nearby but we were feeling in the “just put it on the credit card” holiday mood and wanted to make the most of the couple of days we had to enjoy San Antonio on foot where possible.
The Riverwalk is a loop of the San Antonio River that’s been developed into a vibrant area that’s buzzing in the evening with bars and restaurants along its banks. You can take one of the many riverboat tours to hear from the guides about the history of the buildings along the banks of the river and there are also river taxis to get around. We managed to find plenty to see just by exploring on foot, such as the San Fernando cathedral fronted by an open plaza and the kind of low fountains that children run through in summer to cool off. The Cathedral played its part in the Battle of the Alamo as the place where the Mexican army raised the flag of “No Quarter” from the top of the tower, marking the start of the siege of the Alamo. We also passed by the outdoor Arneson River Theatre just below the La Villita Historic district where the old houses have now been converted into restaurants, art galleries and craft shops and the picturesque Little Church is a popular wedding venue.
A little further along the Riverwalk and you’ll find the Alamo, the most famous attraction in San Antonio by miles, due to its leading role in the struggle for Texan independence. The Alamo was part of the first Spanish mission in the area but in 1836 it became the base for a band of 200 Texans holding out against the overwhelming force of the Mexican army. For 13 days the Alamo came under seige and by the end almost all inside were killed, but the bravery of those who died in this last stand created a rallying cry of “Remember the Alamo” and the Texan army soon after defeated the Mexicans and won Texan independence – Hurrah! After our morning visit to the Alamo we hired bikes and cycled out along the Mission Reach, part of the San Antonio river that has been recently redeveloped, to visit Mission San Jose, one of the other historic Spanish missions in the area.
Hotel Valencia Riverwalk proved to be perfectly located to get the most from our two days in San Antonio and we loved venturing out into the warm evening air and the buzzing atmosphere of the Riverwalk and then retreating from the hustle bustle to our peaceful haven of style and luxury. Hotel Valencia Riverwalk is the kind of place where you’d want to take a loved one for a treat (or a seduction) or I suppose to educate your teenagers in the finer things in life so they work harder at school. I’d highly recommend Hotel Valencia Riverwalk if you’re looking for a boutique style, luxury hotel with excellent service in the heart of downtown San Antonio on the Riverwalk.
Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, 150 East Houston Street, San Antonio, Texas, 78205
Hotel Valencia Riverwalk kindly hosted us at a reduced rate but king rooms or double queen rooms typically cost from $200-$300 per night depending on whether you choose a city, courtyard or Riverwalk view room. Room rates do not include breakfast which can be taken in the Citrus restaurant. The Hotel Valencia website offers a best rate guarantee or you can check for the best hotel rates in San Antonio and book here.
Things we recommend while staying at Hotel Valencia Riverwalk
Take a walking tour of the Riverwalk; it’s easy to pick up maps and information guides either at the hotel reception or at the main Visitor Information Bureau opposite the Alamo. The stop for Riverwalk boat tours is just 10 minutes away from the hotel. The Riverwalk changes character depending on the time of day – in the morning it’s fresh, green and peaceful but in the evening it’s more lively with people strolling and eating out in the warm evening air.
Visit the Alamo – it’s a free and unmissable attraction. Although the Alamo is smaller than many people expect it has an interesting museum area, free tours and beautiful gardens around what remains of the old mission buildings.
Cycle along the Mission Reach to Mission San Jose – we hired bikes from Segcity behind the visitor centre on Alamo square but there is also a San Antonio city bike scheme where you can pick up bikes from different locations around the city and leave them at another point. The first 30 minutes of the city bike scheme is free and this can be more economical than other bike rentals. We enjoyed our visit to Mission San Jose, set in a grassy walled compound with an interesting working water mill and a beautifully decorated church.
If you want to try a few local places to eat near Hotel Valencia we can recommend the trendy Tex-mex bar and restaurant, Acenar that has an outdoor terrace right below Hotel Valencia on the Riverwalk and also the Blanco Cafe – a family run Mexican diner that’s five minutes walk from the hotel for inexpensive Mexican food served throughout the day.
For more information on things to do in San Antonio, check out the Visit San Antonio website
More things to see in Texas
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