I recently spent two nights each at two of Houston's hottest hotels: Hotel ZaZa (opened last year) and Hotel Icon (recently wrapped up a major renovation).
Both were luxurious but in very different ways. Hotel ZaZa is a hipster haven -- make that hipsters with day jobs that mean they can afford the mid- to high-$200 starting rate for standard rooms. (The "petite" room category starts just under $200 and the rooms are trendy and chic, just a bit on the smaller side.)
ZaZa used to be the historic neoclassical Warwick hotel until a massive renovation turned it into swanky 315-room bastion of coolness. Especially funky are the themed suites decked out in clever motifs like the space theme in the "Houston, We Have a Problem" room.
I lucked out and got to stay in the Warwick apartment suite and it was beyond beautiful. The design was a mix of traditional European elegance with high-style touches like modern art and Italian sculptures. It had a kitchenette, balcony and great views overlooking the park. It's opulent, luxurious and not for the faint of wallet. It costs upwards of $2,000 a night.
The hotel's Monarch restaurant is good but a tad pricey. The bar, with an indoor and outdoor area, is THE place to see and be seen.
Hotel ZaZa, 5701 Main St., (713) 526-1991 or (888) 880-3244.
Located in Houston's Museum District, ZaZa is close to the city's light rail system. So is Hotel Icon in Houston's downtown.
This is a beautiful, historic building that recently underwent a renovation to its grand lobby and restaurant. Rooms, which can start around $189 a night, are meticulously decorated in an elegant, rich style. Not so much hip as classy. You get all your high end amenities, etc. The fitness room is surprisingly big. They were changing the concept of the restaurant when I was there. I'm told it's going to be a little more "affordable."
Basically, I'd break it down like this: Hipsters who want to have a lot of fun in the hotel and have the chance of running into pro athletes or musicians in the hallways will be better off picking ZaZa, while couples looking for a quieter romantic place or business travelers looking for refined luxury might want to head to Icon. Bottom line is you can't go wrong with either.
Hotel Icons is at 220 Main St., (713) 224.4266.