Cover: Hotel Contessa on the River Walk, San Antonio, Texas
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull
Steps from San Antonio’s River Walk, the four-diamond Hotel Contessa is a chic all-suite hotel that successfully mixes contemporary décor with Texas charm to create an upscale, relaxed experience.
Built around a soaring atrium, the lobby overlooks the beautiful bar area with palm trees, a water feature, abundant seating and serene views of the River Walk.
While we’ve stayed in many great hotels around the world, it is the staff that makes a stay memorable and the Hotel Contessa staff was exceptional. From the moment we arrived and throughout our entire stay, everyone we met at the hotel was friendly, helpful and welcoming – which truly made our visit special.
We were excited to visit this cool hotel when they asked us to pay them a visit in San Antonio. Hotel Contessa is an all-suite hotel, with 265 fashionable suites that deliver a loft-like feel.
The eclectic décor, vibrant accents, contemporary artwork, exposed cement columns and brick lined walls interject a sense of happiness into the space. A relaxing spot to retreat from the River Walk crowds, the living area features a large couch, coffee table, a flat-screen TV and a desk with one of the best power supplies we’ve found.
We instantly put the high-top table and chairs to use as we enjoyed a glass of wine and the afternoon indulgences of a cheese and fruit plate and dessert selection sent by the hotel soon after our arrival!
A granite counter area with a mini-fridge, coffee maker, large laptop safe and snack basket separates the living area and bedroom.
Floor-to-ceiling windows with views of downtown San Antonio and/or the River Walk (ours had both) serve as a backdrop to the bedroom. Interesting textiles, a bright throw pillo, and clever lamps pop against the crisp white linens of the king size bed. Two robes in the closet and a second flat screen TV round out the bedroom comforts.
The bath has a shower/tub combo, granite counter, a make-up mirror, hair dryer and Zero Percent toiletries by Gilchrist & Soames, which I really liked. With a fresh scent, they have no sulfates, parabens, artificial colors or other bad-for-you ingredients.
Even though the hotel is located on the River Walk, it was remarkably quiet. To use the real estate saying, it all comes down to location, location, location. Hotel Contessa is situated on a very quiet (and exceptionally beautiful) section of the River Walk and the result – a peaceful spot to retreat and relax.
Time to head down and check out the rest of the hotel.
I like atriums and the openness and natural light they provide. Combined with the contemporary styling at Hotel Contessa, the atrium creates a comfortable, modern-day courtyard where people continuously gathered.
The contemporary styling and cool vibe is carried throughout with interesting accents, art and lighting.
The lobby level overlooks the open area surrounding the bar and restaurant, creating an inviting meeting place for guests.
The wall of glass brings the River Walk experience inside, where couples can find a quiet spot for two or large groups can gather around larger tables or relax in one of the plentiful couch seating areas. For those preferring the outdoors, a large patio sits just off the River Walk.
Dining and libations
Combine Cork Bar’s great selection of wines, beers and handcrafted cocktails and its prime location on the River Walk, and it’s pretty obvious why Hotel Contessa’s watering hole is a hotspot for locals and visitors alike.
Then, we met master mixologist Hector and things got really interesting! Hector simply asked our liquor of choice, which of course was vodka, and offered up one of his award-winning creations – the Cavender Martini.
A beautiful blend of Cinco Vodka, rosé sparkling wine, a bit of St. Germain and a few accents, the Cavender is a perfectly balanced cocktail – not too sweet, crisp, pretty look at, and exceptionally tasty!
Las Ramblas Restaurant
Taking full of advantage of Hotel Contessa’s prime location, Las Ramblas offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with scenic River Walk views.
A perfect place to start the day, Las Ramblas offers an a la carte menu or breakfast buffet with a huge spread of hot and cold selections. Standouts – the fruit was incredibly fresh, the pancakes were spectacular, and our server was friendly and helpful, answering our questions as we sought some local input as we planned our day of adventures.
We headed back to Las Ramblas in the evening for dinner on the patio. The evening menu includes innovative dishes created with fresh, local ingredients.
We started with shrimp and grits, which was spectacular and the sauce was amazing. Next up, our main courses. I had the grouper, which was prepared with an English pea succotash, sweet Corn, heirloom tomatoes, and topped with a prawn – it was divine! Greg opted for the salmon, which was accompanied with a ratatouille, shaved radish, arugula and a smoked almond pesto butter. It was prepared to perfection and mouth-watering delicious.
We still had part of the amazing chocolate cake and cheesecake from our room delivery in the mini-fridge, so we opted to skip desert and finish off our sweet delicacies a little later.
Heated rooftop pool
With sweeping downtown San Antonio views, the rooftop pool and hot tub are a perfect spot to take a dip in the heated waters or simply relax and enjoy their tranquil perch above the city.
Ample comfortable seating surrounds the pool, which is open from 6AM to 11PM, and should the urge for a beverage or bite occur while poolside, guests can order room service delivered directly to the pool.
Also located on the top floor of the hotel, the well-equipped 24 hour fitness center has everything needed for an inspirational workout including cardio and strength equipment, free weights and amazing views of downtown San Antonio.
Woodhouse Day Spa
Taking time out for a bit of rejuvenation and recharging is only an elevator ride away at the full-service Woodhouse Day Spa.
Offering massages, body treatments and skin care services, the Woodhouse Day Spa adds a bit of pampering to your visit, whether visiting for business or pleasure. Chatting with someone on the rental car bus that had also stayed at Hotel Contessa while on business, he raved about his massage at the spa and what a great value it was.
Nearby on the River Walk
While the majority of the River Walk, and all it has to offer, is within walking distance of Hotel Contessa, several top San Antonio attractions are mere steps from the hotel.
A 100 year old cypress tree is situated between Hotel Contessa and the river and, over time, the tree’s roots have formed a small island, which has become known as Marriage Island. A popular destination for wedding ceremonies, it is also a beautiful spot to sit and read or watch the River Walk activity.
Briscoe Western Art Museum
The Briscoe Museum is located next door to Hotel Contessa. Named in honor of the late Texas Governor, Dolph Briscoe, Jr., the Briscoe houses a wide variety of American Western art and artifacts.
La Villita Historic Arts Village
Originally settled 300 years ago as one of the city’s first neighborhoods, La Villita was transformed into a historical arts district in 1939. Today, La Villita is home to shops, art galleries, restaurants, statues, and beautiful walkways and plazas.
Rio San Antonio River Cruises
One of the best ways to experience the River Walk is on a scenic cruise along the river. Along the way, you learn facts and historical information from the guides, while enjoying incredible views of the beautiful city of San Antonio.
Top 5 things we loved about Hotel Contessa
1. Stellar Staff. In a time when many hotels have standardized to a near robotic state, the Hotel Contessa staff, while incredibly efficient, still takes the time to treat guests like guests, with a true focus on hospitality. Everyone we met seemed very proud of their hotel and their city – which is really cool.
2. Unbeatable Location. The hotel is located in a quiet section of the River Walk, just steps away from the shops, restaurants, bars and attractions. We rented a car – and never drove it once. We walked around the River Walk and took a hop-on, hop-off bus to get to further locations around San Antonio.
3. Inviting design. Hotel Contessa is a super cool boutique hotel with clever décor that warmly welcomes visitors into upscale luxury that is doesn’t take itself too seriously. It works.
4. Fabulous food and drinks. Cork Bar is fun and lively and Las Ramblas has one of the best dining locations on the River Walk. But, it really comes down to delivering on the food and drink and everything we sampled was top notch and the best we had while in San Antonio.
5. Spacious accommodations. We love rooms with space to work, have a glass of wine or watch TV, without requiring sitting on the bed while doing so. Hotel Contessa goes way beyond with a comfortable one bedroom apartment-size suite.
Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Hotel Contessa San Antonio for hosting us as their guest. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.