A June 2004 trip
to San Antonio by Linda Kaye
Quote: San Antonio is the home of the Alamo, the beautiful Riverwalk, seven Spanish Missions, Fiesta Texas-Six Flags, SeaWorld- and the NBA Spurs. It is a tourist and convention town with over 8 million visitors each year. Where do all these people stay?
Hotel | "O'Brien Historic Hotel"
In the midst of the San Antonio Metroplex, immediately adjacent to the famous La Villita (Old Town) is the O’Brien Historic Hotel.
The O’Brien Building dates back to 1904 and was the home of various commercial businesses during the past 100 years. The city grew up around it with large multi-story office complexes including the City Public Service facility and the Tower Life Building (the tallest building west of the Mississippi River until WWII), but it remained thanks to the San Antonio Historical Preservation Society.
The building was purchased by the Choice Hotel Group and in 2003 was completely restored and remodeled then opened as the O’Brian Historic Hotel. The facade, of course, was restored to its original configuration as required by the Preservation Society.
This small boutique hotel is for travelers who appreciate personal service, a quiet and relaxed setting and a unique experience. Of the 39 rooms at the O'Brien, 15 have balconies and 10 have whirlpool and Jacuzzi tubs. The rooms without of Jacuzzi tubs have the old-fashioned claw footed tubs- the perfect place for relaxing bubble bath. And, don’t be surprised when you return to your room in the evening to find your bed "turned down", just another one of the O’Brien’s many services.
The rooms are described in their brochure as gracious and luxurious and I agree wholeheartedly. The beds are incredible comfortable thanks to the plush pillow top mattress covers. Each room has a hair dryer, coffee maker, iron and ironing board. A bathrobe was also provided. What a nice touch ! The O’Brien is a smoke-free environment.
The one thing I didn’t expect here at the quaint and charming hotel was free high-speed Internet access. I guess there CAN be a wonderful blend of the old and the new.
The hotel offers a continental breakfast in the lobby. Large wooden trays a provided so that you can fix whatever you want and take it back to your room. There is no space in the lobby for tables and chairs. The item that I thought was unique was the Texas shaped waffles. The coffee/cappuccino machine remains available 24 hours a day in the lobby.
I spoke with Nichole Rudolph, the Manager, and I asked her what one thing was most mentioned on the comment cards provided in the rooms. She said it was the personal
service guests receive; that it feels more like a bed and breakfast atmosphere where each guest is know by name and treated as they were the only guest.
A GREAT LOCATION
The only down-side I found was the $10.00 per day parking and no swimming pool.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 28, 2004
Clarion O Brien Historic Hotel
116 Navarro Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205
And the River runs through it ! Well, not really. When the old Travelodge was purchased back in the early 90’s, the new owner of this property fell in love with the San Antonio River. So, for his completely remodeled Riverwalk Plaza Hotel, he commissioned an artist to recreate it inside the hotel in the form of a beautiful floor mosaic. In shades of blues and greens, it meanders from the front entrance, down the hall to the reception desk. There is also interesting artwork on the walls and even in the parking garage. If you visit the hotel, be sure to notice the flying people in each of the wall murals.
The Riverwalk Plaza Hotel is independently owned and is in the heart of the downtown area on the banks of the San Antonio River and directly across from the historic Bexar County Courthouse (that big red building, built in late 1800’s). From this hotel, it is easy to get to all major downtown attractions such as the Riverwalk, Market Square, La Villita Shops, the Alamo, the King William Historic District, and River Center Mall, by walking or taking the Trolley (80 cents fare).
There is a total of 132 rooms, 92 are double-doubles, 27 are kings, 11 doubles, and two suites. They are elegantly decorated and include a hair dryer, coffee maker, make-up mirror, and an in-room safe. High-speed Internet access, cordless, two-line speaker phones and refrigerator complete the amenities in all rooms. The courtyard-style heated swimming pool is surrounded by lounge chairs and tropical plants.
Their brochure refers to overlooking the San Antonio River, but the view is not very good. The best way to see this part of the River is on foot. Exiting the front of the Riverwalk Plaza, cross the street, take stairs down to the river level and you will find a superb paved walking/running path that leads south, away from the downtown area, all the way to the Pioneer Flour Mill. Just before you reach the Mill, take the stairs back up to road level, cross the bridge, descend the stairs on the other side for your return trip. The views for each side of the River are unique. A round trip will take about 45 minutes and the scenery along the way is breathtaking. From the hotel, you can also travel in the opposite direction and wind up in the center of the river restaurant/shopping district.
The hotel does not offer free breakfast, but there is a restaurant on the premises. The Thai Kitchen on the River serves an American-style breakfast and traditional Thai cuisine for lunch. The breakfast menu seems to be a bit pricey, average breakfast $7.25, not
including coffee $2.
The charge for the parking garage is $10 per day. There are many parking lots surrounding the Courthouse at a lower rate, but most are not secure for overnight parking.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 29, 2004
Riverwalk Plaza Hotel
108 VILLITA ST
San Antonio, Texas 78205
Hotel | "La Quinta Inn Market Square"
A La Quinta . . . is a La Quinta . . . is a La Quinta.
There are La Quinta Inns in 34 states and at least 10 in the San Antonio area. They all look more or less the same, and with a few exceptions, offer the same amenities to guests. Prices are usually competitive with other chains. So, about the only thing that makes one stand out above the others is location.
The La Quinta Market Square is one of those great locations. It is directly across the street from El Mercado (the Marketplace) and the world famous Mi Terra Restaurant. Several years ago I had a guest from Germany come for a return visit. It was 2:30am when his plane finally landed and the first place he wanted to go was to Mi Terra. It was a good thing it is open 24/7.
The La Quinta Market Square is within walking distance of the University of Texas at San Antonio Downtown Campus, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, and is on the Trolley route that can take you anywhere in the downtown area. You can’t beat the price for the ride, only 80 cents.
All rooms are entered from the outside, as opposed to a secured hallway, which might be a problem for some. Parking is plentiful and free. The large swimming pool is surrounded on all four sides by the two-story complex,
This La Quinta has 124 rooms, most of them have two double beds or one king bed. There is one king two-room suite and two king rooms with jazucci tubs. 80% of the rooms are non-smoking. Free dial-up Internet access is available. Each room also has a hair dryer, coffee maker, iron and ironing board and a desk.
A Deluxe Continental Breakfast is offer at no additional charge and includes Belgium waffles and hard-boiled eggs, along with the usual Danish, cereal, fruit, bagels, coffee, milk, juices and tea.
I had the opportunity to talk with Ruben Chavarria, the Manager, and he pointed out that his staff does everything possible to make guests comfortable and feel at home. That particular day, the hotel was full and breakfast had been extended an additional hour to accommodate everyone. When I asked him about an exercise room (not that I was planning on using it, or anything like that) he said there was not one, but was quick to point out that there was a beautiful city park just on the other side of El Mercado, with lots of walking paths.
If you are traveling with your pets, they too will be welcomed at this hotel.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 30, 2004
La Quinta Inn San Antonio Market Square
San Antonio, Texas 78207
Hotel | "Woodfield Suites"
Far from the Ordinary- says the Woodfield Suites brochure. And I must agree. This all suites hotel goes over and above others in its price range with free services and amenities.
There are 151 suites, and if my calculations are correct, the rooms are about 400 square feet in size. There are 15 rooms designated as smoking. Each suite has plenty of room for a sofa sleeper, large chair, coffee table, desk, beds, dresser, and large TV. In an alcove just off this area was a small refrigerator, microwave oven and coffee maker. The bathroom had plenty of counter space, large mirrors and was well lighted. All of this in a one-room suite. The Woodfield also has two-room deluxe suites, two-room jacuzzi suites.
I was quite surprised to learn that the least expensive time to visit this particular hotel is from late November (after thanksgiving) through the end of December. It just so happens that this is the most beautiful time of the year to visit San Antonio because of the lighting of the river, the Holiday River Parade and the usually beautiful weather. Suites during this time can be as low as $69.
Woodfield is owned by the Marcus Corporation and is a member of the Baymont Guest Ovation program.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 1, 2004
La Quinta Inn and Suites San Antonio Downtown
100 W DURANGO BLV
San Antonio, Texas 78204
Hotel | "American Heritage Inn"
From the hotel, it is an easy 10-minute drive to the downtown area and 20 minutes to the International Airport. It is convenient to Brooks City Base (formerly Brooks Air Force Base). Within a quarter mile is a large grocery store (HEB) open from 6am to midnight, a brand-new Target store, fast food, movie rental, Radio Shack and a few other businesses. If you are planning a visit to SeaWorld or Six Flags/Fiesta Texas, they are both within a 30 minutes drive.
The hotel originally built in 1986 as the Coachman Inn, has undergone a million-dollar renovation since 2002. The Manager, Stan Graham, who has held that position for the last eleven years, describes his facility as quiet, family oriented, and affordable.
Of the 118 rooms, 15 are designated as "smoking" and all basically the same:
The American Heritage Inn is completely fenced and the open gate can be seen from the front desk, which is manned 24-hours a day. All rooms are entered through an interior corridor, adding to the security.
On their website is a printable coupon which reduces the $54.95 room to $44.95, plus tax of course, Hotel tax is San Antonio is a hefty 16.75%. Unfortunately, the American Heritage Inn does not participate in any frequent guest program.
Directions: From Interstate 37, take exit #135 at Brooks City Base, S.W. Military Drive West. At the first traffic light (Goliad Road) turn left, then left again into the hotel grounds.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 6, 2004
La Quinta Inn San Antonio/Alamodome South
3180 GOLIAD ROAD
San Antonio, Texas 78223
Hotel | "Howard Johnson Inn"
This particular Howard Johnson Inn was build in 1996, long before the SBC Center, (the home of the San Antonio Spurs) was on the drawing boards. I suppose it is a case of being in the right place at the right time. It is short drive to the SBC Complex which includes not only the brand new SBC Center, but also the old Joe & Harry Freeman Coliseum, where the San Antonio Rodeo and many other functions have been held for the past 55 years. In addition to basketball games for the Spurs and the Silver Stars, our WMBA team, the SBC Center also hosts hockey games, concerts, and many other events.
If you are traveling with kids who like water parks, SplashTown is just across the highway from the motel.
It is a straight shot into downtown area, approximately 3.5 miles and all the downtown attractions such as the Alamo, the Riverwalk, River Center Mall, fabulous restaurants, the Mexican Market, and the AlamoDome.
This facility is relatively small, with only 49 units, six of which are designated a "smoking", and is in the budget category. The rooms are basic, but to be well-maintained, clean, and comfortable.
Did I mention budget? Discounts are available for AAA and AARP and I was told by the Manager that rates are negotiable, depending on the time of year and what is going on in the area. Best rates are in late September to early January and can be as low as $39. (Did I mention budget). Howard Johnson Inns participate in the Trip Reward Program.
DIRECTIONS: Take Exit 159B off of IH 35. It will be on the north side of the highway as you are traveling toward downtown San Antonio.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 7, 2004
Howard Johnson Express Inn
2755 I35 NORTH EXIT 159B
San Antonio, Texas 78219
Hotel | "Days Inn"
It is close to the SBC Center, SplashTown, Ft. Sam Houston Army Post, Brooks Army Medical Center (BAMC) and 4 miles from the downtown area.
In this two-story facility there are a total of 124 rooms, approximately 24 of which are designated as "smoking". All rooms are entered from the parking area and have the standard amenities such as hair dryers, clock/radio, iron and ironing board.
In addition to the regular accommodations, there are several different types of rooms available:
Room rates range from $49 to $89 for regular rooms and $79 to $119 for suites. Hotel/Motel tax is San Antonio is 16.75%. Slow periods for this motel are September through November and in January. During these times you may be able to negotiate a lower rate.
Pet Policy: There is a one-time fee (per stay). If your pet is under 10 lbs. the charge is $6 plus tax; over 10 lbs. the charge is $25 plus tax.
Days Inn Coliseum by AT&T Center
3443 NORTH I 35 EXIT 160
San Antonio, Texas 78219
San Antonio, Texas