Filed Under: Once a bank, now a boutique hotel; appreciable assets still well-kept inside.
Overview: Luxury boutique hotel occupying the historic Union National Bank building in downtown Houston, convenient to central attractions on foot, and a light rail ride just out the front door to a Texans game. Freshly renovated and handsomely redecorated, Hotel Icon is exceptionally balanced for an upscale urban hotel: opulent without being austere, vibrant but never chaotic. It is, in a word, comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that you’ll need to guard your city-touring itinerary like a bank guards the cash. Downy beds and rainfall shower heads will delay your movement upstairs, while downstairs, exceptional craft cocktails will keep you giddy and loitering in the lobby bar. If you’ve got places to go, keep this in mind: Hotel Icon is a richly-appointed hotel with a very friendly staff. If you’re not disciplined, you could spend your entire afternoon just trying to leave the building. And yet, you’ll hardly mind if you don’t
Appreciate: The bathrooms, and the lobby bar. We'll play favorites: these are the two spaces that impress us the most. This isn't to say the rest of Hotel Icon isn't impressive; on the contrary, you'll savor your David Luna-prepared meals at their excellent restaurant, Line & Lariat, and you'll marvel at the massive circa-1911 bank vault door behind the check in, together with the whole historic aura of the place. But great hotel bathrooms are scarce, it seems, and the magic you feel in a truly elegant lobby bar is unrivaled, in our view. Our marble bathroom was the version attached to the Icon's Deluxe Room, distinguished by a shower you can walk around in, and a jacuzzi tub that peeks into the bedroom via sliding shutters (or is the bedroom peeking into the tub?), making the already-spacious bathroom seem even spacier. If you want to surprise your better half, have the Bath Butler draw her some bubbles for some extra-memorable soaking. Then, down at the L&L Bar, sip on Texas Sippers or Red Rowdy's, just two of a dozen or so of their exceptional cocktails. Truth be told, you could be happy there sipping tap water, as the ambience itself is intoxicating: hefty Doric columns surround the eight-sided bar, its translucent countertop lit from below, and, together with amber hatbox chandeliers above, making you and the other comfy patrons glow
Know: We especially like Hotel Icon as a place to stay if you're in town for a Houston Texans game. Houston is an overwhelming city to drive in, which can make it an overwhelming place to visit. But if you stay at the Hotel Icon, you can take the Metrorail train, just steps away. Useless to most Houstonians, the Metrorail is actually a convenient conveyance when you're staying downtown. On Day One of your weekend, it can take you from the Icon down Main Street to the Museum District, where you can visit the Houston Zoo, Hermann Park, the Museum of Natural Science (don't miss our favorite permanent exhibit, Energy Hall), and the excellent Museum of Fine Arts. Then on Game Day, it will take you a little further south to Reliant Stadium, about 10 miles from the Icon, thus saving you a 20-mile battle with F-150's to and from the tailgate
Special Comments: If you've sampled all the cocktails at the L&L Bar and want to wander off, there are plenty of swanky, trendy bars in downtown Houston to compete for your attention. We'll let you research what's right for you, but add one modest suggestion: if you've got your little lady with you, link her arm in yours, and wander around the corner one evening from the Icon to the tiny and romantic La Carafe. This wine bar (meaning, beer and wine only) is in the oldest commercial building in Houston, built in 1847 and listed on the National Register for Historic Places. It's dimly lit, unquestionably haunted, and decorated with mounds of melted candles behind the barkeep. Trust us: don't miss this otherwise easy to miss gem
Cost: Rates range from $119 to $269 per night on a typical weekend, depending on room amenities; generally, lower rates are available for Standard Rooms and advance reservations, and higher rates will buy you a spacious Suite. Make sure you check the Special Offers page on the Hotel Icon website for several weekend packages that offer additional perks and discounted rates
Book Your Weekend at Hotel Icon: Here.