San Antonio is big. Like, really BIG. The city itself is spread out over 7,000 square miles and houses a population of 2.5 million in the metro area. (In contrast, NYC crams nearly 9 million people into just 300 square miles.) Anyone coming to San Antonio is naturally going to wonder, in a city that spread out, what are the best places to stay in San Antonio?
And the answer comes down to what a person is looking for in their visit to the Alamo city.
In order to help you decide where to stay in San Antonio, we have broken down your options, included a list of pros and cons for each area, and thrown in a few of our personal hotel recommendations for good measure, so you can pick that perfect place to enjoy your SA stay.
Psst: You can also check out our guide to the best boutique hotels in San Antonio for more options.
Location, location, location…
San Antonio is a hotel-rich city. We have more than 450 options sprinkled across the city for guests to choose from, as well as vacation rentals, campgrounds, and a small handful of B&Bs.
No matter the reason you are coming, there is likely a lodging option close by. And “close” is the operative word here. Given the size of the city, we suggest you look for a place that is close to the convention, activities, or entertainment that you are coming to be a part of.
While that perfect hotel may be located on the opposite side of town from what you are interested in doing, trust us, it will cease to be perfect the minute you get stuck in traffic trying to get to where you want to go. Avoid the hassle and lost time and just look for something close by.
There are four major lodging areas in the SA metro area and each comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. The areas are downtown, near the airport, the Rim, and near SeaWorld or the Hill Country.
Where To Stay in San Antonio
Downtown offers the most densely populated area of hotels in the city. Guests can choose from a range of properties at varying price points and comfort levels.
Because of this, San Antonio has become a huge convention city, with thousands of businesses and organizations reserving space for their annual conventions and meetings.
So between the business travelers and the leisure travelers who are coming to check out the Alamo and take part in all the great things San Antonio has to offer, downtown is HOPPING most of the time.
Pros to staying in downtown San Antonio:
Access to ALL THE THINGS. Downtown hotels offer fantastic access to the world-renowned SA Riverwalk, the Alamo, the convention center, and the Alamodome, all of which are very walkable from downtown hotels.
In addition to this, great food options abound just north of downtown at the historic Pearl Brewery, or just south in Southtown.
And if nightlife is what you are after, the downtown hotels are your best bet. You will be able to walk to and from your bars or entertainment of choice, making the need to secure designated drivers or safe rides unnecessary.
Cons to staying in downtown San Antonio:
Since most of the people who come to San Antonio choose to stay downtown, it can get noisy, especially at night.
And especially along the river.
If you select a riverfront hotel, be prepared for some noise that can last into the wee hours of the morning.
Parking downtown is also limited and can be very pricey. If you are bringing a car downtown, do your homework to find an affordable garage or lot ahead of time so that you don’t wind up with an exceedingly high bill at the end of your stay.
Also, note that downtown hotels do not provide airport shuttles so if you don't have a car, you will need to find alternative transportation to get from the airport to your hotel.
Our take: If you are coming for a convention, business, or special event (the rodeo or Fiesta San Antonio), or are just wanting the total SA vacation package, stay downtown.
Airport area hotels are great for people who need to be in SA for one or two nights.
If you don’t need a car for your trip, and you want the best airport access available in the city, all for a fraction of the price that guests will pay to stay downtown, you should stay in the airport area.
In addition to the airport itself, the area boasts a number of restaurant and shopping options that do offer a little in the way of entertainment, though nothing compared to the area around the Riverwalk.
Pros to staying in the airport area:
Airport shuttles. All of the airport hotels offer complimentary shuttles between their properties and the airport, so you don’t have to deal with paying to park.
Additionally, many of the hotels will offer complimentary shuttle rides based on availability to nearby restaurants or North Star Mall.
Cons to staying in the airport area:
The airport area in San Antonio, while only 10-15 minutes north of downtown, is not exactly charming or visually stunning.
It’s just a typical urban area, so the ambiance and environment are lacking. The hotels located near the airport are all standard big-box brands (Marriotts, Hiltons, and the like) and don’t offer much variety in terms of comfort or amenities.
And given the proximity of the airport hotels to the airport runaways, airplane noise can be an issue.
Our take: If you are zipping into and out of town on a really short business trip or have an early morning flight, stay in the airport area.
The area of the city known as the Rim is located at the interchange of I-10 and US-1604 on the northwest side of San Antonio.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the Rim Shopping Center, the Shops at La Cantera, and the University of Texas at San Antonio are all located in this area.
Pros to staying near the Rim area:
The Rim offers a mix of the good from both the downtown and airport areas.
Located right at the tip of the Texas Hill Country, the views and scenery here are lightyears ahead of what can be found at the airport, though not as stunning as downtown.
Access to entertainment, restaurants, shopping, and the Hill Country is excellent at this location, with much of what you need to make your vacation a success.
Finally, many of the hotels have more of a resort-style feel than their airport and downtown area counterparts.
Cons to staying near the Rim area:
Even if you plan to stay in the Rim area only, you will likely need a car. (Not sure if you need a car in order to visit San Antonio? Read this.)
Hotels do not offer airport transportation and given the size of the area, walking to/from everything you may want to do likely won’t be feasible.
Our take: If you are coming to get your thrill on at Six Flags, shop till you drop at La Cantera, or visit your student at UTSA, stay at the Rim.
Hotels we recommend: La Cantera Resort and Spa, the Éilan Hotel and Spa, the Embassy Suites by Hilton San Antonio Landmark, and the Drury Inn and Suites San Antonio near La Cantera Parkway.
SeaWorld San Antonio is located on the far west side of San Antonio approximately 20 miles west of downtown.
The SeaWorld area is the quietest, least busy, hotel area of the four we have mentioned, making it a great place to bring the kids for a vacation of rest and relaxation.
Pros to staying near SeaWorld:
SeaWorld is a good half-hour drive west of downtown San Antonio so hotels in this area offer the best access to SeaWorld San Antonio.
Additionally, given the more rural nature of the area, hotels here tend to be quieter and more family-friendly than what you may find at both the Rim and downtown.
These hotels are also your best bet for visiting Lackland Airforce Base as the base itself is not located near many decent lodging options.
Cons to staying near SeaWorld:
You will definitely need a car. With the exception of their proximity to SeaWorld and Lackland Airforce Base, SeaWorld area hotels aren’t really close to anything else.
If you plan on visiting any of the other parts of the city, plan on spending some time driving.
Restaurant options are also much more limited on this side of town (but if you do come, don’t miss the Jerk Shack, one of the best restaurants in San Antonio).
Our take: If you are coming just to visit SeaWorld or to spend time with your airman at Lackland AFB and you don’t have plans to do much else, stay near SeaWorld.
Hotels we recommend: Hilton San Antonio Hill Country, the Courtyard by Marriott San Antonio SeaWorld/Westover Hills, and the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa.
We have covered the four major hotel areas in San Antonio, but we would be remiss not to mention one of the most popular and luxurious hotels in the city – the JW Marriott San Antonio. This sweeping resort is located on the far northeast side of the city near…absolutely nothing! There are no other hotels in the vicinity making the JW Marriott an area unto itself.
Pros: It’s absolutely beautiful. With nothing nearby, the resort lends itself to a tranquil, isolated feel that few other places in SA can offer. The spa, PGA golf course, on-site dining, and hotel pool, replete with lazy rivers and waterslides, offer guests the total resort package.
Cons: You get what you pay for and to get some of the best, you pay some of the highest prices. The JW Marriott is not exactly a super affordable option but offers an unparalleled luxury experience.
Our take: If you are looking to be ultimately pampered at a luxury property away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the city (and you can afford to do so), stay here.
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