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by Richard Varr, The Daily Telegraph, September 16, 2016
In a rustic corner of Houston’s trendsetting Uptown District, this boutique hotel melds the feel of an old world Italian villa with modern luxury. Spacious high-ceilinged suites look upon shining cityscape views beyond the tree line and Roman-style sculptures flanking an elegant courtyard.
Find the hotel’s driveway between ivy-covered walls with an Italianate fountain and equestrian statue. Uptown Park with its upscale restaurants, cafes and boutiques is just a minute’s walk across Uptown Park Boulevard. It’s a five-minute cab ride to The Galleria – Houston’s premier tourist destination and Texas’ largest upscale mall. Fifteen minutes to the Texas Medical Center, Museum District or Downtown Theater District, all within 7-10 miles (11-16 km).
Style & character 9/100
This villa-style hotel is a welcome oasis in pulsing glass and steel, skyscraper-studded Houston. Luxurious yet homely suites come with reminders of Italy everywhere – temple-like columns poolside, vivid Venetian canal scene paintings, and framed campanile photos bedside. Detailed mosaic designs, antique carpets, hand-painted murals and old world portraits under naturally aged wooden beams feature throughout. Residential-style suites with full kitchens are ideal for extended stays.
Service & facilities 8/100
Staff at every turn are friendly and eager to please. Hungry? Call 24-hour room service. The hotel offers complimentary transportation with style, with a house Maserati available to whisk guests anywhere within a three-mile radius.
Palm trees flank a lush courtyard with a veranda and fountains, centered by a heated saltwater pool. Four waterside cabanas offer privacy in what already feels comfortably secluded, maybe bringing to mind a day on the Lido di Venezia. Work out to courtyard views from the Fitness Centre. A card table adds another playful touch to the Billiards Room, furnished with plush sofa and club chairs.
Suites are the norm – 102 of them out of a total of 122 rooms. There are eight different designations, with one, two and three-bedroom suites featuring walk-out balconies, draped-backboard canopies and full living rooms. Each has a small or full kitchen area with birch cabinets edged in beveled glass trim and patina finish – the same design from the Italian kitchen of hotel owner Giorgio Borlenghi’s grandmother.
Room 505 is a one-bedroom Signature Granduca Suite with two TVs, an oversized vanity and spacious walk-in closet. The top prize is the sprawling Tuscan-inspired Residenza Imperatore – secluded, with a private entrance and pathway to the courtyard pool and gardens. All have iHome entertainment docks, complimentary Wi-Fi and Italian-made Acqua di Parma bath gels.
Your passport to a better trip
Food & drink 8/100
Ristorante Cavour serves traditional Italian cuisine with an emphasis on modern; thus, no heavy red sauces. Instead, Executive Chef Enrico Glaudo pan sears lamb loin with root vegetable caponata $34 (£26) and fuses ricotta spinach gnocchi and lobster with curry pink sauce $22 (£17).
For breakfast, jalapeño waffles add Texas flavors. Crushed pecans, almond milk and blueberries accent steaming steel-cut oatmeal $13 (£10). Prime rib and Taggiasca Olive Tapenade are part of the extensive Sunday brunch buffet $65 (£49), and lobster salad with caviar adds an exquisite flair to daily afternoon tea.
Bar Malatasta’s extraordinary “Ultimate Cocktail,” $49 (£37) is a mix of Martell XO, Kahlua and Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Époque’ Champagne. Jazz and classical music Wednesday through Saturday nights.
Value for money 8/100
Deluxe and Superior rooms, depending on season and demand, from $199 (£150); mid-range Granduca Suites from $295 (£222). Additional room tax 17 percent, but no tax for extended stays past 30 days.
Access for guests with disabilities?
ADA-compliant rooms available.
The hotel is geared for adults, but children always welcome. So are cats and dogs under 60lb (27kg). A portion of the $125 (£95) pet fee is donated to a local, no-kill Houston shelter.
This article was written by Richard Varr from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.