I always like to give a mini review of the hotels I experience. I also figure that after seeing all this amazing food I
housed consumed, you’re obviously planning your very own food / alcohol pilgrimage to Texas, and you’ll need to know where to stay. You’re welcome.
You may or may not know that KnightlyBoyfriend and I are, to put it lightly, hotel snobs. We won’t stay in hotels under 4 stars, and will happily pay extra to accommodate this preference. I realize that when you’re on vacation most experiences are enjoyed outside the room, but I also believe that being on vacation is a treat and an excuse to live the high life and pamper yourself to the fullest.
And we never pay full price. (See: Priceline.)
I also feel like not all four star hotels are created equally. It seems more of a relative measure that depends on the amenities of other hotels in the area. Would you agree?
Anyway, Texas went like this:
- Thursday and Friday: KnightlyBoyfriend goes to Miami with all his little boyfriends for a bachelor party. I drink heavily.
- Saturday: Ché flies to Houston and stays at Mom’s house, KnightlyBoyfriend is in a permanent state of Miami drunkitude.
- Sunday: Ché stays with sister in Houston, KnightlyBoyfriend flies back to MA.
- Monday-Tuesday: Ché stays with sister, KnightlyBoyfriend recovers.
- Wednesday-Thursday: KnightlyBoyfriend flies in Wednesday, and we stay in a hotel in Houston
- Friday-Sunday: We drive to Austin for a friend’s wedding and stay in a hotel there
- Sunday-Monday: Drive back to Houston, stay in hotel. Fly home Monday with fatty, drunk livers.
So that involved three hotels. We simply punched in 4-stars, our area of choice and our bid, and Priceline spat out a hotel.
First Leg – Houston: Hilton Post Oak
We’ve stayed in this hotel several times. Although I prefer the Omni Houston Hotel, this is probably my second favorite in the Galleria area (my favorite area in which to stay due to its centralized location, access to freeways, and area amenities…and it’s a pretty pimp area). The rooms are nice, spacious and clean.
(Ignore the crap on the bed…KnightlyBoyfriend was oblivious to my obsessive picture-taking.)
Added bonus: each room has a balcony.
We like to buy wine, drag chairs onto the balcony, and enjoy drinks while watching the sunset.
This next picture is crappy, but gives you an idea of how big the room is.
The hotel also has a really nice and spacious lobby and a great bar.
Their gym is small, but the cardio equipment has cable TVs attached and it has everything else you’ll need for a decent workout. The “rooftop pool” is actually on the second floor, but you get to swim amongst skyscrapers, which is pretty cool.
Things You Should Know
- Parking costs $14/day, which is annoying.
- They require a $50 deposit if you’re using a debit card. The parking costs are subtracted from that, and the leftovers are returned to you.
- Although they do not have a bar by the pool, they allow you to bring drinks. Just let the bartender know and he’ll put it in a plastic cup for you.
- Try to get a room high up – the views from the balconies are better.
- I believe the entire hotel is non-smoking.
- Very easy walking distance to Starbucks, the Galleria (4th largest mall in the US!) and tons of local shops and amenities…not that you’ll want to walk anywhere in August when it’s 5,000 degrees outside. But it’s nice to have the option.
- Don’t order coffee for room service. If you go down to their casual dining restaurant in the morning and ask for coffee to go, they’ll give it to you for free.
Leg 2 – Austin: Hilton Downtown
Hailed as one of the nicest hotels in downtown Austin, this was a true four star establishment.
The Hilton Downtown has a cavernous lobby filled with seating areas in various nooks and crannies, 3 restaurants and a Starbucks.
It’s two (maybe three) levels of bright and airy luxury.
I really liked the waterfall. It made the space feel serene.
The rooms were spacious, though not quite as spacious as the Hilton Post Oak.
Although the rooms were not equipped with balconies, the views of the Austin skyscrapers set against the rolling Hill Country hills were lovely.
I liked that the rooms had a couch and coffee table. Very homey.
The weight room is very nice, and the cardio machines are set in front of floor-to-ceiling windows with amazing views of Austin and Hill Country. The roof top pool (again, not on the roof, but the 8th floor) has a tiki bar outside for maximum fun. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to enjoy the pool because it was completely packed. So don’t go mid-day.
Things You Should Know
- Parking is $16/day, and they require a $50/day deposit with a debit card.
- The massive lobby has a Starbucks and free wi-fi. In the mornings, enjoy a latte while browsing the internet.
- Although the hotel casual dining restaurant is kinda naz (as they usually are), the Finn & Porter defies preconceived notions of hotel dining. They have a happy hour in which sushi and drinks are half off. The sushi is very modern fusion, aka creatively prepared and delicious.
- Located within walking distance to 6th Street (the bar scene), the Texas Capitol and several green spaces, and close to the highway.
Last Leg – Houston: Intercontinental
We were surprised to get this hotel, because Priceline usually spits out, well, something else. We were very curious because the Intercontinental hotel in Boston is our favorite in the city, and we were hoping the Intercontinental in Houston would follow suit.
For the price we paid ($65 via Priceline), it was a good deal. The lobby was a little dated, but still nice.
The lobby in front of the ballroom / conference room was really cool and airy.
There wasn’t much to the pool (it was small with very little patio space, and I think it only went to about 4 feet deep), but the setting was nice.
The service was excellent. The first room they put us in stank of stale cigarette smoke, so we immediately requested to be moved and they were extremely nice and accommodating. The floor in the second room was actually a little damp, but it didn’t smell and we felt bad that we’d already asked them to switch us so we figured we’d deal for one night.
Otherwise, the rooms were basic and clean. Not huge, but plenty of space.
We laughed when we turned on the TV that night and saw this:
THANKS, Intercontinental, for recognizing that I sprouted balls somewhere along the way.
Basically, it’s your standard hotel. Personally, I think calling it a 4-star hotel is pushing it a bit – I’d say it’s closer to a 3 star or 3.5 star, but it was still nice and comfortable. I think it’s probably a better business hotel than vacation hotel.
Things You Should Know
- Parking is $16/day. I believe the debit card deposit is $100.
- They have a casual dining hotel restaurant and a bar, neither of which we tried because neither seemed very impressive.
- It is literally RIGHT off the freeway, which is nice and convenient.
Of the three hotels we experienced, the Hilton in Downtown Austin was the favorite and a true 4-star experience. The Omni Houston Hotel definitely reigns supreme in our opinion, but if you can’t swing that one, the Hilton Post Oak is lovely, comfortable and enjoyable.
Questions: What are your lodging preferences when on vacation? What makes or breaks a hotel experience for you? What are your must-haves?
At the risk of offending half of my readership, I’m just gonna say it: Massachusetts’ liquor laws are some of the most infuriating out there, and something that makes me curse this state every time I venture out to have fun.
Because Draconian liquor laws = the opposite of a good time.
You can’t get alcohol in grocery stores and gas stations (not even beer and wine…HELLO!?!? What in the HELL am I supposed to cook with, then???), some restaurants don’t even serve alcohol, and forget drinking in public. One law that really cramps my style is the law saying that alcohol vendors cannot decrease the price of their beverages. What does this mean?
It means happy hour ain’t so happy for your wallet.
(Source. With revisions from yours truly.)
Sure, you can stuff your face with half-off appetizers and whatnot, but I tend to do that quite frequently anyway. After a long day of work, I just want a cocktail. Preferably, a cocktail that will not be paid for with money from the student loan budget (priorities, you know?).
Luckily for me, I spent a week in Texas, during which my mom and I partook in a happy hour. And Houston happy hour? Oh man, I forgot how HAPPY it is…
9827 Katy Freeway
Houston, TX 77024
Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille
Perry’s is just…cool. There’s no other way to say it.
Upon walking in (after utilizing the $3 valet parking, btw), you’re greeted kindly in the cavernous lobby, complete with a personalized wine lockers for guests who choose to participate in the program.
(Click here for more info about Perry’s wine lockers.)
I really like the decor at Perry’s. It has that whole lounge-y, sleek-and-elegant-with-a-touch-of-contemporary-flair thing going for it. Colorful and funky, but still very sophisticated.
In the middle of the dining room, there is this massive tower of wine. I kid you not. You know that ridiculously large tower in Lord of the Rings? The one where the non-Gandalf wizard resides? Yeah, it’s like that. Only instead of being evil, it’s filled with wine, which is clearly the opposite of evil.
This picture doesn’t even do it justice. It’s massive.
But we didn’t sit in the dining room. Perry’s happy hour (4-6:30) takes place in the lounge, which is full of soft, buttery leather chairs that swallow you whole when you sit in them.
It was the perfect place to relax and drink half-priced cocktails and eat half-priced appetizers (neither of which are cheap at full price, mind you). The noise level was nice – a little background buzz, but nothing intrusive – though it should be noted that we were there earlier in the evening and on a weeknight. I don’t know what it’s like on the weekends.
Naturally, we kicked off happy hour with the happiest cocktails on the menu. Mom got a dirty martini (which was delicious, and that’s coming from someone who normally doesn’t like dirty martinis), and I got the delightful trio option, which allows you to choose three martinis from the list and enjoy a tasting.
I got the Raspberry Crusta, the Elderflower 75, and the Cucumber Blueberry Martini.
The raspberry crusta:
“Fresh raspberries and lemon are muddled with Ultimat vodka and Cruzan raspberry rum. Served tall and topped with a poof of sparking rose in a sugar crusted glass.”
Hell to the yeah. And can we talk about the “poof of rose?” I love that phrase, I’m stealing it. The raspberry crusta had bright chunks of raspberries floating through it and mixed beautifully with the lemon. It was fruity enough to be sweet, and tart enough to keep the sweetness under control. I love the little tickling finish from the rose.
“St. Germain elderflower liqueur shaken with fresh lemon and topped with Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne.”
Simple and to the point. Champagne and St. Germain is one of my favorite combinations, and the addition of the lemon once again tamed the sweetness for a perfectly balanced flavor. A little sweet, a little tart, a little sparkle – just like I like it.
The sugar crusted glass didn’t hurt.
Cucumber blueberry martini:
“Smirnoff Blueberry and Effen Cucumber vodka are shaken with lime, cranberry and cucumber served straight up.”
I’ve gotten very into cucumber cocktails this summer. I just love how light and refreshing they are. This drink was definitely light and refreshing, with a nice hint of sweetness from the blueberries and a lovely tartness from the cranberry. It accompanied the 105 degree Houston heat beautifully.
My ranking of the three?
- Elderflower 75
- Cucumber Blueberry Martini
- Raspberry Crusto
But all were highly enjoyable. And, may I once again remind you that I received THREE drinks for 6 bucks. Love that.
After I sipped my way through my delightful cocktails, I ordered a glass of Perry’s own chardonnay, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
To accompany our drinks, we ordered a few (half priced!) apps.
Escargot with buttery little medallions of crisp puff pastry.
The escargot were excellent. If you’ve never had escargot before, their texture is a mix between a cooked clam and calamari – nice and chewy, and swimming in a buttery, cheesy, savory sauce soaked up by the puff pastry.
This evening was the first time I’ve ever tried carpaccio, which is essentially paper-thin slices of beef. It was lightly dressed in salt, pepper and olive oil, and actually tasted like soft prosciutto. The bitterness from the arugula complemented the beef’s sweetness beautifully, and tied all the components together. Simple and elegant, but beautifully flavored. Totally not scary at all.
Finally, the calamari was actually some of the best I’ve had. I really feel like if you’re going to fry something, it needs to be covered in a thick, crispy coating that doesn’t flake off all over the place.
Because nobody likes a flake.
This perfectly cooked calamari had a thick, impossibly crunchy coating that contrasted nicely with the sweet, tender meat. Smothered in spicy cherry peppers, this dish was comforting and decadent, just how I like ‘em.
Happy hour was happy indeed.
This was the total cost of our bill:
I shit you not. That’s just under $50 for four cocktails and three appetizers. Half price, baby. Why would anyone go any other time of day?!? Had it not been the happiest of happy hours, this bill would have been almost $100.
Summary of this Knight at the Restaurant
- Perry’s has $3 valet parking and half off drinks and appetizers from 4-6pm, Monday through Friday. Um…what are you waiting for???
- I love the drink menu. They have a huge specialty cocktail list and an excellent wine list, much of which is available by the glass during happy hour. I also really appreciate their cocktail trio, which allows me to sample several cocktail options in one setting. It’s a very unique concept that shows pride in their mixed drinks.
- Although I haven’t eaten dinner at Perry’s, their appetizers were delicious. We were very impressed with the freshness and preparation of each.
- Service is also excellent.
- Am I dying to go back for a full meal? While I wouldn’t mind trying their brunch (they have a special brunch deal that involves bottomless mimosas BY THE WAY), I think their regular prices are a little on the expensive side. And I generally don’t like to splurge on steakhouses, because I feel like they’re all kinda the same. That being said, Perry’s drinks and appetizers were well ahead of the pack.
- Keep in mind that their final rating is for the happy hour ONLY.
FINAL RATING: 4.1 / 5.0
Question: Share your favorite happy hour deals in and around your city!