Try googling “the best places to visit in the USA” or “the best vacation destinations in the United States” and chances are, San Antonio, TX will be near the top of the results mix. Today, SA is one of the country’s premier tourist destinations, offering top-notch history, a variety of activities, and amazing food. It’s no wonder then that the city hosts 34 million visitors on an annual basis and has 450+ hotel options for guests to choose from. Historic hotels, chic hotels, luxurious hotels, quirky hotels – we’ve got ‘em all. To help you sift through some of the options, we have put together a list of the top 10 best boutique hotels in San Antonio (with a few non-boutique options thrown in for good measure).
It is important to note that not all hotels are created equal. People want different things when they travel. Business travelers, families, and the budget-minded are all typically looking for something different when they book a hotel room. The good news is - there’s a hotel for that. And in San Antonio, there are a lot of hotels for that.
But for those specifically looking for a hotel with an emphasis on comfort, fashionable design, quality service, and great dining options in a solid location, boutique hotels are much the way to go. Our list of the best boutique hotels in San Antonio will help you find the perfect place for your SA home away from home.
Best Boutique Hotels in San Antonio
Best for: Overall
While San Antonio is home to a number of lovely hotel properties, if you ask a local what the absolute best boutique hotel is in the Alamo city, the answer will likely be the Hotel Emma. Located in the Pearl Historic District, the Hotel Emma now occupies the space formerly held by the original Pearl Brewhouse that opened in 1894. The brewery continued its operation for the next century, eventually closing down in 2001. After a renovation, the building was repurposed as a hotel and the Emma opened in 2015. Shortly thereafter, it was named one of Travel+Leisure’s “best new hotels on the planet” for 2016 and has been a hot destination ever since.
What makes the Hotel Emma so special is, well, EVERYTHING. It has it all - a gorgeous design aesthetic, interesting history, a prime location, superior service, and high-end food and wine. Guests to the Emma will be greeted by guayabera-clad staff before being ushered into a stunning lobby of exposed brickwork from the original brewery, followed by a complimentary La Babia margarita cocktail in the library. The 146 guest rooms, Sternewirth Bar, Supper restaurant, and various meeting spaces, carry the design aesthetic all throughout the grounds of the property, meaning that anywhere you look, you will see perfection.
The Hotel Emma is located on the banks of the San Antonio river (some rooms come with a balcony overlooking the north part of the Riverwalk), on the east side of the Pearl Historic District. That means that guests to the Emma will have their choice of some of SA’s best dining – Brasserie Mon Chou Chou, Allora, Southerleigh, and Cured, just to name a few - all within a short walking distance. For those looking to venture a bit farther out, San Antonio’s downtown area is only a short 5-10 minute drive south.
Amenities at the Hotel Emma include Merit Co. coffee service throughout the hotel, a rooftop pool, fitness center, guayabera robes, an in-room icebox and dining, and complimentary use of cruiser bikes.
Best for: A Romantic Getaway
San Antonio’s first boutique hotel and longtime Condé Nast reader’s choice award winner, the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, is the perfect place to stay for a quiet weekend away. Valencia underwent a full-scale renovation in 2017 and is fully styled in Spanish colonial and Mediterranean décor, even including Italian white virgin marble tile in the bathrooms.
Valencia’s 213 rooms are located on a quieter part of the Riverwalk, with rooms overlooking both the river and the inside open-air courtyard (if you want an ultra-quiet room, go with a courtyard view to avoid noise from the river). Valencia’s onsite restaurant, Dorrego’s, is the only Argentinian-inspired restaurant in San Antonio with delicious offerings such as Chorízo a la Parrílla and Ojo de Bife. If a meat-heavy meal doesn’t sound appealing, Valencia is located within 5 minutes walking distance of a number of eateries including La Panadería Bakery and Domingo. The Majestic Theatre is also a short one-minute walk from the hotel making Valencia a great choice for an evening of world-class dining and entertainment.
Amenities at the Hotel Valencia include in-room spa services, a fitness center, an open-air courtyard, waffle weave bathrobes, C.O. Bigelow bath products, and in-room dining.
Photo Credit: Hotel Valencia
Mokara Hotel and Spa
Best for: Spa Lovers
The Mokara Hotel and Spa, an Omni hotel, is located in downtown San Antonio on the Riverwalk and is a bit of a mecca for spa devotees. The property was recently recognized with the coveted Forbes Travel Guide 4-star ranking for both the hotel and spa for 2022. When it comes to the San Antonio spa scene, Mokara is undoubtedly the top dog.
The Mokara hotel occupies a 19th-century, riverfront building and offers 99 luxurious rooms and suites. The hotel also houses a restaurant, the AAA four-diamond, Ostra, which is located on the lowest level of the hotel and serves a menu of sustainable seafood, and of course, the dazzling Mokara spa. The spa facilities house 18 private spa treatment rooms with a menu of services including massages, body treatments, facials, and more. All guests to the Mokara hotel receive complimentary access to both the wet and dry areas of the spa which include a dry cedar sauna, a eucalyptus-infused steam room, and a whirlpool.
Amenities at the Mokara Hotel and Spa include a heated rooftop pool, fitness center, complimentary coffee service, and access to the wet and dry areas of the spa.
Photo Credit: Mokara Hotel and Spa
Best for: Quirky and Colorful Aesthetics
The Hotel Havana is located on the north part of the Riverwalk right next to the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in downtown SA. This Cuban-inspired hotel was originally opened in 1914 to evoke a tropical Mediterranean feel in the heart of the city. It was reopened in 2010 by the Bunkhouse Group and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Havana now exudes an eclectic, hipster charm and is a fantastic place to stay for those looking for a more tranquil experience on the sometimes rowdy Riverwalk.
Each of the Hotel Havana’s 27 rooms is unique from the others with all offering colorful pieces and vintage touches throughout, including grand colonial shuttered windows. Rooms here vary greatly in size so check out the layout and square footage info that is available for each on Havana’s website. The hotel is pet friendly and your furry friends are welcome to join you in any room on the property for an additional fee.
One of Havana’s highlights is most certainly the adorable terrace-style restaurant, Ocho. With sweeping chandeliers, river views, bright pops of blue, and pan-Latin cuisine from an award-winning chef, Ocho is a must-not-miss and one of the best places to dine on San Antonio’s Riverwalk.
Amenities at the Hotel Havana include coffee service, serape robes, and in-room dining (though we recommend dining at Ocho – it’s just too cute to miss!).
Photo Credit: Hotel Havana Facebook
The St. Anthony Hotel
Best for: Ghost Chasers
The St. Anthony Hotel is one of San Antonio’s most stately properties and, at 352 rooms, the largest hotel on our list of the best boutique hotels in San Antonio. Construction on the St. Anthony began in 1909 when it was designed to be the first purely luxe hotel not just in San Antonio, but in the whole of the lone star state, earning the nickname the “grand old lady.” The hotel’s rich and storied history includes playing host to a number of celebrities (Fred Astaire, John Wayne, and George Clooney among them), as well as becoming the first hotel in the world to offer central air conditioning.
Over the years, the fortunes of the St. Anthony have ebbed and flowed and it underwent a massive renovation between 2013-2015 where it was polished and restored to much of its original glory: the original Venetian tile mosaics were uncovered, the museum-quality art and tapestries were refurbished, and the original Steinway piano from 1927 was repurchased and returned to its original home in the hotel’s Peacock Alley. Today, the St. Anthony is a part of Marriott’s luxury collection and a wonderfully elegant option for anyone looking to visit the Alamo city.
But, as befits a stately “old lady” such as the St. Anthony, a mysterious side also exists to the hotel that contrasts with the glitz and glam of the early years. The St. Anthony is believed to be one of the most haunted hotels in all of San Antonio. In fact, the hotel was recently named one of the most haunted hotels in Texas by Yelp for 2022. For decades, guests and staff alike have reported a number of unusual occurrences, bizarre sounds, and frightening apparitions that contribute to the mystique and fascination of the hotel. Paranormal enthusiasts will be delighted to learn that they can book a stay in room 536, allegedly the most haunted room in the hotel, where it is reported that in 1965 a perpetrator of a grisly murder took shelter while hiding out from the police.
For those brave enough to face the possible poltergeists looming in the halls, or for those just in search of upscale, unbridled opulence and luxury, the St. Anthony is an appropriate and lovely choice. Rooms are tastefully decorated with a mix of gray linens and carpet, with a few pops of bright green to cheer up the space. The bedding doubles down on comfort with soft pillowtop mattresses sitting against smooth leather headboards. The bathrooms boast sleek double vanities and soft terrycloth bathrobes. And the majority of the rooms overlook one of San Antonio’s oldest parks, Travis Park. Dining options are aplenty on property with 4 different choices of bar or restaurant, but we love Rebelle, an award-winning seafood restaurant in a funky, yet chic space.
Amenities at the St. Anthony Hotel include pillowtop beds, black marble tubs, a fitness center, and an outdoor swimming pool.
Photo Credit: The St. Anthony
Best for: History Buffs
The Menger Hotel is not only the oldest operating hotel in San Antonio but the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi River. The Menger was opened in 1859, a mere 23 years after the siege of the Alamo, and has played host to many historical figures including Sam Houston, Generals Grant and Lee, and former US presidents McKinley, Taft, and Eisenhower. But perhaps the most remarkable guest was none other than former US president Teddy Roosevelt, who used the Menger Bar to recruit his infamous band of Rough Riders that fought in Cuba in the Spanish-American war. Those choosing to stay at the Menger will find themselves steeped in local history and can learn more about the property by taking a self-guided tour available here.
The 316 Victorian-style guest rooms at the Menger all offer historic touches and antiques galore. The Menger is located directly in the heart of downtown San Antonio between the Rivercenter Mall and the historic Alamo so some of the rooms offer private balcony views of the Alamo or Alamo plaza. And, like the St. Anthony, the Menger rooms are reputedly haunted so be prepared to enjoy your historical elegance with the chance of a few thrills thrown in.
Amenities at the Menger Hotel include in-room coffee makers, refrigerators, Gilchrist and Soames bath products, an open-air Spanish courtyard and garden, a swimming pool, and in-room dining.
Photo Credit: Menger Hotel
Thompson San Antonio Riverwalk
Best for: Luxury Stays
If luxury is priority #1, then the Thompson is the answer. As one of Hyatt’s well-regarded luxury brands, the Thompson San Antonio Riverwalk is a welcome and unique addition to the SA hotel lineup. The hotel opened in February 2021 and is one of only 4 Thompson properties in all of Texas (Dallas, Austin, and Houston also have one). And while the Thompson calls the quieter north riverwalk area home, the hotel itself is always abuzz with celebrations of some kind as well as weekly summertime pool parties with local DJs. For those interested in making this party lifestyle permanent, the Arts Residences luxury condos sit atop the hotel with permanent residents receiving access to hotel amenities like the pool and spa.
While the pool and spa are enchanting, it’s the rooms and dining that really make the Thompson shine. The hotel features 162 rooms, 33 of which are suites with giant soaking tubs and indoor/outdoor spaces. The design concept of the rooms exudes contemporary sophistication by blending industrial décor with a little Texas flavor. Dark hardwood floors and soft leather headboards join a pop of wall color and industrial lighting fixtures. The bathrooms are tiled in clean white marble with dark, single-sink vanities. Regarding food, the Thompson offers two exceptional dining options right on the property - Landrace, a restaurant piloted by the James Beard Award finalist, Chef Steve McHugh, and the Moon’s Daughters, a striking rooftop bar and lounge.
Amenities at the Thompson San Antonio Riverwalk include a fitness center, on-site spa, in-room dining, and outdoor pool, and the hotel is pet friendly (no fees for stays less than 30 days!).
Photo Credit: Thompson San Antonio Riverwalk
Omni La Mansión del Rio
Best for: Riverwalk Views
Location, location, location - as goes with real estate, so goes with the award-winning Omni La Mansion del Rio, an Omni Hotels and Resorts property. This beautiful, Spanish colonial-style hotel was originally opened on the banks of the San Antonio river in 1852 as a school and then converted to a hotel in 1968 for the Hemisfair World’s Fair. Spanish tiles, exquisite archways, and exposed beams are the standard here with an attractive open-air Spanish courtyard in the middle of the property. But beauty aside, what makes the Omni La Mansion a standout option are some of the best river views in San Antonio. And with a number of attractions and restaurants nearby, the Omni La Mansion is a top choice for travelers wishing to immerse themselves in SA culture.
The 338 rooms at the Omni La Mansion are well appointed with comfortable and soft bedding, though admittedly lack the pop and allure of some of the other properties on our list. Many of the rooms offer views of the river with either a shared or private balcony. Ambassador-level rooms and above offer not only spectacular river views but complimentary access to the wet and dry spa areas at the sister property across the river, the Mokara Hotel. We highly recommend splurging for a river view room as that’s the major draw in booking this hotel, just be aware that noise from the river can be a problem late into the evening with barges running well past 10 pm some nights.
Amenities at the Omni La Mansion del Rio include a heated courtyard swimming pool, access to the fitness center at the Mokara Hotel and Spa, and in-room coffee service.
Photo Credit: Omni La Mansion Del Rio
Estancia del Norte
Best for: Airport Access
San Antonio’s downtown area is most definitely ground zero for the best world-class boutique hotels the city has to offer. But sometimes, people prefer to avoid the congestion and bustle of the Riverwalk, or they simply want to fly in and fly out, making airport access a key priority. Enter: the newly remodeled Estancia del Norte. The Estancia del Norte, part of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection, is just 2 miles from the San Antonio International Airport and is the only boutique hotel on our list to offer complimentary airport shuttle service.
The Estancia del Norte was originally opened in 1978 as the La Mansion del Norte and the sister property to the La Mansion del Rio (the style and design bear a striking resemblance). The hotel was then sold in 1988 and operated over the years under a number of different brands, most recently, as a Doubletree by Hilton. The Doubletree was closed right at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 while it underwent a full-scale renovation and then reopened in April 2021 as the Estancia del Norte.
Like the La Mansion del Rio, the Estancia is designed in Spanish architecture replete with archways and Spanish ceramic tile. Artwork by local artists adorns the many walkways and public areas of the hotel and is changed out every 2 months in order to feature a new artist (all pieces can be purchased). The newly remodeled 277 rooms and 8 suites boast wood floors throughout and brick accent walls, with many rooms facing the central open-air courtyard and swimming pool.
Amenities at the Estancia del Norte include complimentary parking, a free airport shuttle, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a central open-air courtyard.
Photo Credit: Estancia del Norte
Canopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk
Best for: Affordability
The brand new downtown hotel, the Canopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk, was opened in April 2021 and holds its own against some of the more established properties that dot the San Antonio river. While a number of Alamo city hotels have decades (or even centuries) long history with price tags to match, the Canopy by Hilton offers an affordable alternative without skimping on the quality of comfort, service, or convenience the hotel provides.
The Canopy has 195 rooms, many with city views. Each room contains a bed with a wooden canopy (the namesake of the hotel’s collection), a gel memory foam mattress, and a chaise lounge. There are two dining options at the Canopy, the Otro bar located on a terrace overlooking the San Antonio Riverwalk, and the open-air riverfront restaurant, Domingo (one of our favorite places to eat on the Riverwalk).
Amenities at the Canopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk include a fitness center, in-room coffee service, on-site dining, pet-friendly rooms, an outdoor terrace, and Apivita bath products.
Photo Credit: Canopy by Hilton
San Antonio is not only home to the world-famous Riverwalk but is also a great jumping-off point to experience the rolling Texas hill country or play a round (or 2 or 3 or 4…) at a PGA golf course. Those preferring to travel further afield and stay outside of San Antonio city proper will find scant boutique hotel options but are not without some wonderful lodging choices. If the TX hill country is calling your name, we highly recommend checking out the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, or the La Cantera Resort. All three resorts, while not classified as boutique, still offer unparalleled comfort, views, and amenities.
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