Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway, staycation or vacation in Houston heading downtown can put you right in the center of the history of our city. I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a staycation getaway at the Hotel Icon, a historically “iconic” structure in downtown Houston that is known not only for its amazingly rich local history, but architecture and now sophisticated elegance and comfort.
History of Houston’s Hotel Icon
The first thing you notice when you walk into the lobby of the Hotel Icon is the beautifully crafted “bar” much like the bank tellers bars of old. It’s no wonder, because the Hotel Icon was formerly the Union National Bank Building and was built in 1911. Directly behind the desk at its centerpiece is the old bank safe vault, enormous and imposing and reminiscent of the bank robberies of the Wild West movies. It is a 12 story building, and one of the country’s earliest steel and concrete skyscrapers with a brick and limestone front.
In the past it has been home to many of the founding corporations in Houston including the Union Bank, Neuhaus & Co., the first investment banking firm in Texas, Jesse H. Jones, prominent architect John Staub and international construction giant Brown and Root.
Design and Décor of Houston’s Hotel Icon
Beautifully carved columns and decorative plaster moldings decorate the lobby colonnade causing a “centerpiece” of a well stocked bar area with comfortable sofas and tables for you to lounge on while enjoying one of the very well made cocktails or delicious appetizers or desserts.
Accommodations at Houston’s Hotel Icon
My room was a “double” on the 8th floor with a comfortable, cozy seating area for two, television, desk and two full size beds. The restroom was gorgeous, and even bigger than mine at home with beautiful granite tiles, large sunken tub and shower stall. While each items displays elegance, it also displays comfort and luxury. I wasn’t afraid to sit on the chairs or use the bar area. The colors of burgundy and gold are throughout the hotel, with soft sided cushions and tassels that continue to show evidence of the history of this important historic site in Houston.
The beds were surprisingly comfortable, one time in very few that I didn’t wake up feeling as if I had slept on concrete slabs. The fully stocked honor bar is very tempting, especially since room service brings you ice so that you aren’t wandering around the hallways trying to take ice back to your room.
Voice Lounge and Balance Spa
The Voice Lounge offers comfortable drinking and dining either at the bar or in one of the mini lounges that offer more comfort and some privacy. The drinks are well made and I highly recommend the Chocolate Mousse Cake, it is decadently and sinfully delicious but so large you better plan on sharing.
The Balance Spa offers a variety of services including facials, manicures and massages. The aroma is a pleasant blend of eucalyptus and lavender which was not only relaxing, but invigorating at the same time.
Security at Houston’s Hotel Icon
Valet parking is available for $28.00 a night, but you may come and go as you please. You simply call down to the parking and your car is brought around and ready for you. I was even handed my seat belt, as a helpful reminder to put it on when we left for dinner. There are several valets in the well lit parking area, making it a safe place to wait or meet.
Rooms can only be accessed with a room key, which also activates the elevator. Without a room key you cannot access the rooms.
The lower level offers a well stocked wine cellar and the spa which also requires a key card.
The Hotel Icon has been named by Conde Nast Traveler one of the Top 700 Hotels in the World in January 2007 and one of the Top 100 New Hotels in the World in 2006. The words opulent, luxurious, sophisticated and elegant can be used to describe every detail of this hotel. If you are wanting to be right in the middle of things or at least easily access all the fun downtown Houston has to offer from Aquarium and Hard Rock Café to dining and dancing in a comfortable, elegant and historic setting that is actually affordable then Hotel Icon should definitely be part of your Houston travels.
Interview with Hotel Icon personnel during visit
Concierge.com/Conde Nast Traveler