4.07.2011

The Anatomy of A Perfect Hotel...







Growing up we were not so much "hotel people." We camped. A lot. Which I suppose is one of the benefits of growing-up in Northern California...there are lots of beautiful spots to pitch a tent (or in our case, park a little pop-up camper), and the weather is beautiful and mild. Pretty much perfect for camping.

When we did stay in a hotel, it was usually of the roadside variety, typically when we were traveling cross-country and needed a place to crash to relieve my folks of their road-weariness...

But as an adult, I've stayed in an awful lot of hotels (mostly for work travel), and while almost all of them have been significantly better than the roadside ones of my youth (although there have been a few doozies), most have been pretty meh.

That's a long lead-in to get to the point, which is when I do have a chance to stay in an amazing hotel (which is very, very rare), it makes a huge impact on me. I leave scheming how to pull-off our next visit, brainstorming ways to somehow transport the magic of the hotel onto our house...

That was exactly the situation after our stay at the Hotel Havana in San Antonio (courtesy of the fantastic Mr. and Mrs. Smith) a few weeks ago during the girlies spring break.

The trip was impromptu and quick (just a couple of nights), but it was completely magical. The city itself is very charming -- the pretty riverwalk, the amazing Mexican food, the plentiful margaritas -- but the hotel was the main magic maker for sure.

The Havana is an old historic hotel that the genius Liz Lambert recently refurbished with her Bunkhouse management company. Now I have to pause here to say that every other "perfect" hotel I've ever had the pleasure of staying in has been one of Liz Lambert's "creations" -- The San Jose and The Saint Cecilia specifically... She just gets it right on every level. The spaces feel youthful and modern but not in an icky tecno/hip/nightclub way that so many boutique hotels seem to resort to. They're comfortable with good beds and linens and amenities and really (really) good service.

But the extra mile, the magic if you will, is how she creates a feeling or (for lack of a better term) vibe for each space. In the case of the Havana, she's channeled maybe a writer or artist in residence in Cuba. It's worn-in all the right ways, but artful and a little glam. Everything from the incense they burn in the lobby to the amazing minibar in the rooms stocked with local treats and the vintage SMEG fridge filled with Topo Chico mineral water among other goodies. There was nothing generic about the place, nothing "everytown U.S.A.". It was utterly special and unique. Every single detail.


The girlies loved it too...they could tell it was different, which made it even more worth it for the memory that will (hopefully) be burned on their brains forever...


Ok, now your turn...where's the most magical place you've stayed, why did you love it. Spill!

















19 comments:

Chelsea said...

amazing hotel! just gorgeous. i camped almost exclusively growing up as well so i understand. i've found most hotels do not live up to their prices.

Tara said...

The best place I ever stayed was the Algonquin Hotel in NYC. It is where my husband proposed. The rooms are tiny but comfortable, but the lobby is the real attraction. It feels like Dorothy Parker will walk in at any minute.

Kelly said...

Mohonk Mountain House is pretty incredible - especially during Christmas.

Alice Q. Foodie said...

that looks amazing!! I love the Chateau Marmont, but haven't stayed there... yet! I also loved the Ace in NYC, but it had more to do with the experience than the physical space.

Pretty Mommy said...

Awww!! It was our 9 year anniversary yesterday and seeing these pics of where we got married makes me a little misty...It's nice to see how Liz updated it but kept the same feeling - it was pretty dreamy to begin with ;)

SuchSmallSteps said...

I've never seen the Mr. and Mrs. Smith website before and it is amazing!! I just found a great hotel option for our upcoming trip to Barcelona!

My favorite hotel I've ever stayed at is The Parker in Palm Springs. We go at least once a year, often for the "Glutton" package, where we eat to our hearts' content and lay around by the pool for a few days. Wonderful!

Alice said...

Wow. I'm floored. I love it so much! Texas meets modern. Amazing!
Just a Silhouette

Erica said...

Yay, thanks for the hotel recommendation. We'll be in S.A. for a college reunion this October, I think I know where to book our stay! Looks perfect. I love hotels: I have 2 kids and a sweet old pup, when I stay at a hotel, I don't clean, cook, take out trash, or even have to get dressed to make it to the bus stop first thing. :) So to me, they are all wonderful.

Kristen said...

The Island Inn, Monhegan Island, Maine. We stayed over two nights for part of our honeymoon 7 years ago. It is simple, clean....amazing food, magical location. I highly recommend it.

Nicola said...

wow it does look magical, I love the room especially the bed so simple but very atmospheric. And I love the picture of the girls checking out the snacks!

kim said...

I love Liz's Austin spots. This looks fantastic. I'm looking forward to a trek to her Marfa creation El Cosmico. If you're a camper, you might like it too. I wrote about it here...
http://gotogirls3.com/?p=1035

jenni said...

Just down the road in San Antone? My, I need to head down to this Hotel Havana!

Caitlin said...

By far the most magical place I stayed was the Ventana Inn in Big Sur. My brother and I were just passing through and it had been suggested we stop there for a drink just to see the views. Well, we saw the views but we could not possibly leave after that. As luck would have it, we checked in late and got an amazing deal. Wish I were there now...

Brandi said...

I stayed at the Artmore Hotel in Atlanta and fell in love with it. I'm also itching to stay at the Ames in Boston...

elauinc said...

The timeshare of a friend of a friend in Venice, Italy. We had one of those old skeleton keys for the heavy vestibule door and beautiful warm wood frames on windows that lined the entire living room. I remember getting up just before sunrise, barefooting it out to the upstairs deck where I leaned on the railing to watch the light change across the city's red tiled rooftops. magic.

Simply Mel {Reverie} said...

my first trip to paris, sean and i stayed in this really affordable hotel in the 5th. it was bohemian style, nothing fancy, and every room was sparse with furniture but had vibrant color details. the shower, for our room, was located outside...it was a very old building, so they renovated an outdoor corridor and covered it with small moroccan tiles with wild roses and potted plants growing all around. by no means was this hotel luxurious, but it had charm and soul.

Catherine said...

The Kenwood Inn in Sonoma on our honeymoon. Magical is the only word. It was like being in another world with feather beds and stone fireplaces in the rooms, a gourmet breakfast on the vine covered patio every morning...dreamy.

amanda said...

Havana looks perfect! I am 20 minutes from sa so I must check it out. My fav hotel is Verana in yelapa Mexico. It is my version of perfect- Robinson Cru family meets the ritz.

Andrea said...

We were in SA during Spring Break too for an impromptu weekend. We stayed at the Comfort Inn. Not near as cool as the Havana:)