Vacation Tip: Choosing Your Hotel

Fresh from an excellent five-day vacation in San Antonio, Texas, I’m going to write about a few of the considerations that made our trip so enjoyable. Our group included me, my good friend Jeanne, my son Russ, and two of his friends.

The first mutual decision Jeanne and I had to make was selecting our accommodations. After some back and forth, we chose The Hotel Contessa on West Market Street. Though it may have seemed a little pricey on the surface, ultimately it was worth every penny spent. In fact, this hotel cost the same as a recent three-night stay in a trendy Brooklyn hotel (which shall remain unnamed), and the overall experience was far superior.

A few of the factors we took into consideration when deciding where to stay included:

Does the hotel have a free airport shuttle?

Hotel Contessa did not. However, there was a Super Shuttle that ran every fifteen minutes from the San Antonio International Airport. It cost $12 one way-no reservation needed, and was simple and convenient.

Is there early check-in and late check out?

My flight got in at 12:30 so my room wasn’t ready yet. The receptionist stored my luggage for me and I went down to the Cork Bar and had soup and salad, then relaxed in the spacious lounge area until they called me. Late check out is an option too.

Will you need to rent a car to get around?

San Antonio is a city on the move! Everywhere we looked people seemed to be energetically heading somewhere-by scooter, Segway, bicycle, cab, Uber, bus, river taxi, or on foot. Jeanne and I took the bus, which was easy and inexpensive, walked to most of our meals, and took advantage the hotel’s valet parking for Russell’s car. This cost $48, but that gives you unlimited access to your vehicle all day (at no extra charge) and the valets were great! Parking is tight in the city so if you can get by without a car, you’re better off.

Is the hotel centrally located?

Hotel Contessa is within walking distance to almost everything you might need. The Riverwalk is literally right out the lounge door! If you don’t want to take the city streets the whole way to your destination, you can walk along this more scenic route, then use the stairs or bridges to get back to street level. The Riverwalk offers plenty of opportunities for people watching, as well as observing nature. Sitting on the hotel benches or at the tables out back was one of our favorite ways to start and end the day.

Not only were there restaurants close by, there were bars (fancy and dive) a 24-hour Whataburger, and a CVS that stocked anything vacationers might need-including flip flops, liquor, and toiletries.

What room options are available?

With a room on the twelfth floor, we had a fabulous view and were removed from much of the noise of the city. We booked a suite with two queens and a pullout sofa in another room so it never felt too crowded. It was also nice to have a room to hang out in other than our bedroom. The only complaint was that the mattresses and bed linens seemed on the older side-not as comfortable as what we would have liked.

Are amenities included?

These were some of the best parts of the hotel! The glass elevator was a big hit and all of us had the best time enjoying the sunshine and night skies from the rooftop pool, as well as making new friends of all ages in the hot tub. What a fantastic way to unwind after a busy day on our feet! The hotel has one of the nicest fitness rooms I’ve seen in my travels, along with an onsite spa (we didn’t use either of those but other guests did).

Breakfast was not included, but that actually ended up working to our benefit as it got us out of the room faster in the mornings. There is a restaurant onsite (Las Ramblas), but some of the best meals we had in San Antonio were breakfasts eaten out on the town. More on that later!

The concierge was extremely helpful with directions, and making reservations. Other staff were more than willing to share their recommendations about things to do, or not do, (like the Texas-size cinnamon roll!) Maid service was consistent and efficient.

What we all liked best about Hotel Contessa was that it had character. The atmosphere there was vibrant, as opposed to the more sterile, flat feeling you often get in the chains. The employees seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs and guests from young families to seniors to business people to friend-groups like ours were all welcomed equally and made to feel at home.

Five stars!

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