Downtown Houston Hotels

by Edwin Thomas

As a major Texas commercial center, downtown Houston attracts its share of business travelers. However, the downtown area is also where the Houston theater district and attractions such as the Downtown Aquarium with its theme park are found. While downtown Houston's hotels are mostly of the upscale variety, some bargains are right in the middle of everything.


Downtown Houston's hotel industry caters predominantly to business travelers. For most of the year substantial weekend discounts are available, especially at the higher-end hotels. As a result, a weekend visitor might be able to upgrade from a mid-range hotel to a more upscale choice for only a slightly higher price tag. However, during Houston's big annual events, such as the springtime technology conventions or the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March, demand for rooms generally outstrips supply, discounts are hard to find, and advance reservations are necessary.

Alden-Houston Hotel

A Fodor's Choice with an "Exceptional" rating from Frommer's, the Alden-Houston is a 97-room boutique hotel situated only two blocks from Main Street. The guestrooms and public spaces sport a modern decor that is minimalist, yet also bright and comfortable. The guestrooms come with flat-screen TVs (plasma units in the suites) and free Wi-Fi internet access, and among the amenities the hotel maintains DVD library for its guests. In an unusual touch for the high-end hotels of downtown Houston, the Alden-Houston permits pets under 20 lbs. for an extra fee.

Hotel ICON

The ICON enjoys top ratings from Frommer's and Fodor's, with the latter describing it as "downtown's most glamorous hotel." Occupying the Union National Bank Building, which dates to 1912, the hotel attempts to capture something of that early 20th-century gilded opulence with a decor with a decidedly European boutique feel. Frommer's described it as "the Lola-Montez-slept-here look." Guestrooms come with Wi-Fi access, and DVD players are available upon request, and the service is regarded as excellent. On the downside, the hotel parking is expensive.

Magnolia Hotel

The Magnolia Hotel's building was once the home of first Shell Oil and then a daily newspaper dating to the 1920s, and the decor of the public spaces and rooms combines the sensibility of the Roaring '20s with contemporary furnishings and modern design. The spacious guestrooms come with Wi-Fi access, and the hotel offers its guests amenities such as a complimentary happy hour reception and an evening cookie buffet. However, while the hotel is in a central part of downtown Houston, the immediate environment is somewhat isolated and lacking in dining options.

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