White-gloved hotel staff opened brass-trimmed glass doors as several members of our tour group arrived at The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, located only 650 feet from the famed River Walk and 1,300 feet from The Alamo. Near the front desk, richly upholstered round seating contributed sophistication and vintage ambiance.
Crystal chandeliers, which replicated fixtures used on the Titanic, blazed brilliantly in the long hallway, which led to expansive meeting rooms. Tall columns and wrought iron light fixtures decorated the area and glass doors opened onto an enclosed sun porch. Swarovski crystals cast light through a beautiful upper lobby, and black and white photos of famous past guests lined hallways that led to individual guest rooms.
On the sixth floor, a small gym featured free and hand weights, treadmills and city views. Also on this level, I visited the pristine heated rooftop swimming pool where inviting chaises, patio umbrellas and rental cabanas – the perfect spot to read a book, enjoy quiet conversation or sip a cocktail from the outdoor bar – beckoned.
A large professional group enjoyed cocktails at another outdoor bar, on top of the hotel, amid a large open-air courtyard, surrounded by red tile roofs and stark white stucco.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1909 hotel had a reputation for its opulence and wide range of famous guests. My casually elegant high-ceilinged Deluxe Room included a king bed with upholstered headboard and two reading lights, plus an upholstered chaise lounge topped with emerald pillows. This brilliant hue also colored the interior, of a cabinet with a safe and clothing drawers and appeared throughout the hotel.
I had asked about getting a small refrigerator for my room, in advance, and was told they would try to accommodate my request. But upon my arrival, every one of them had been taken. It surprised me that there was no coffeemaker in the room, until I learned that I could pour fresh java available from a gorgeous coffee urn downstairs (as well as decaf and hot water for tea) – by 6 a.m. daily. I was delighted to access free WiFi service with minimal effort; a feature many luxury hotels seem to charge for, unless you are a preferred guest.
A wall-spanning mirror hung above the double vanity in my spacious bathroom. The toilet stood behind a frosted glass, across from a huge tiled shower with bench seating. Although I would have loved to soak in a deep tub too, I understood the constraints of ‘retrofitting’ this historic property. But I snuggled into a cozy robe each night and enjoyed chocolates on my pillow.
My 9th-floor room provided beautiful views of nearby Travis Park, and a commercial building whose brightly lit and ever-changing colors, each night, celebrated the ongoing San Antonio Fiesta.
Dinner is Served
Our first evening began with house-crafted cocktails served amid the modern and dramatic ambiance of Rebelle, where meals are shared and many dishes incorporate Texas’ rich agriculture plus fresh seafood.
We then moved to a small private dining room, and shared plates that ranged from fresh oysters and premium beef to house-made gnocchi with wild mushrooms, and berry-studded crème Brule; and everyone had plenty.
During dinner, we also received a visit from the 2017 King of the upcoming Texas Cavaliers River Parade, featuring more than 40 festively decorated and lit floats that would travel down the San Antonio River after dark.
Beyond The St. Anthony
No matter what time of year you visit San Antonio, this city’s famed River Walk beckons. You can sip a prickly pear margarita at a restaurant patio beside the San Antonio River, or catch more views from the deck of a ‘river taxi’ – a flat bottomed boat that lazily transports people along this iconic waterway. During our boat trip, small waterfalls flowed beyond stone arches. There was lush greenery everywhere and mariachi bands played for enthusiastic bar patrons.
During a leisurely stroll along the River Walk, I climbed tile-faced, stone steps from river-level to La Villita Historic Arts Village, San Antonio’s oldest historic neighborhood. It’s full of galleries and shops selling collectibles to handcrafted leather goods. Snack on Mexican sweetbreads, such as pan dulce or churros, premium ice cream, and craft brews too.
San Antonio’s antique missions invite exploration, and there’s no more famous local structure than The Alamo, a rich historical outpost in the heart of this modern city. The state’s most frequently visited historic landmark, this mission-turned-fortress was the site of an infamous 1836 battle between soldiers from the Alamo and the Mexican army, which left much of it in ruins.
Bountiful Breakfast at The St. Anthony
Our press group enjoyed great food throughout the city, so I waited until our last morning before ordering breakfast at The St. Anthony, in the Library Cafe. I skipped biscuits with country gravy, eggs Benedict and banana pancakes and created my own omelet, a tasty concoction of cheddar cheese, plus mushrooms, tomato and spinach. It arrived, piping hot, alongside thick wheat toast and tender breakfast potato chunks.
Bottomless coffee, a trio of tiny jam jars and easy-to-spread butter accompanied this filling meal, served amid dark wood, creamy leather and deep crown moldings. The café ambiance felt simultaneously cozy and refined. Soon afterwards, I collected my bags from the hotel valet, took my seat in our tour van and headed towards San Antonio International Airport, only 7.5 miles drive from the hotel.
When You Go
The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, operates at 300 E. Travis Street, in San Antonio, TX. Call 210-227-4392 or visit online at www.thestanthonyhotel.com.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.