I love old historic hotels, and Texas has more than its share. You’ll find landmark hotels featured throughout my travel writings, especially along the Chisholm Trail, Bankhead Highway, and El Camino Real. Here are seven of my favorite historical hotels to visit when traveling to Texas.
1. The Driskill, Austin
A Romanesque Revival building completed in 1886, The Driskill is the oldest operating hotel in the city, conceived and constructed by Colonel Jesse Driskill, a famed Texas cattleman.
The grand columned lobby with marble floors has an ornate skylight that features the Texas Lone Star. Gargoyles of longhorn steer heads and twisted lizards decorate the outside.
The hotel offers 189 rooms, including 14 extraordinary suites. Many wedding receptions are held here in the beautiful banquet halls.
The deluxe king offers excellent cityscape views with a king bed, a comfortable sitting area, a sleeper sofa, a work desk, and a custom marble or Art Deco-tiled bathroom.
The Lyndon B. Johnson suite includes portraits of the president and his first lady in the entryway. Offering regal and modern details, it includes an open walk-in shower and an impressive 10-foot stained-glass wall reflecting Ladybird’s love of Texas bluebonnets. See 6th street’s iconic views when you open the private balcony doors.
You’ll see a comprehensive collection of museum-quality artwork throughout the hotel, and you can even take a tour. Afternoon tea is a long-standing tradition with three classic courses as you sip exquisite teas and champagne.
If walls could talk, several ghost stories linger in the halls and staircases of this beautiful, iconic hotel.
Pro Tip: The five-star Driskill Grill serves locally-raised organic food and dry-aged steaks with impeccable service. The 1886 Bakery & Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week.
2. The Commodore Perry Estate, Austin
The 53-room luxury boutique hotel originated from Edgar Howard “Commodore” Perry’s 1920s mansion, constructed by Commodore and his wife Lutie in 1928. The 10,800-square-foot home built on 10 acres symbolized the Great Gatsby era. Texas-born and a Baylor University grad, Perry came to Austin in 1904, starting a successful business shipping to Europe until 1929. He was a long-standing real estate developer until his passing in 1964.
Today, the Commodore Perry Estate, an Auberge Resorts Collection, is the number one resort hotel in Texas on Travel + Leisure’s 2021 World’s Best List. Select from rooms, suites, or mansion suites.
The Inn Room features a custom four-poster king bed with luxury linens, a private sitting room for two, a desk, and a minibar. Mix a lemon drop martini at the customizable cocktail cart as you gaze upon an elegant courtyard. Enjoy the walk-in shower, dual vanity, and organic bathroom amenities.
The Mountain Laurel Suite features vintage furnishings with French doors in the bedroom and a large living room leading onto double patios overlooking the spacious landscaped grounds. Get comfortable in the king bed with luxury linens, a custom minibar, a walk-in rain shower, plus a house car transport or complimentary Mercedes.
Available only to resort guests and members, spread out with a chef-inspired picnic on Sundays prepared by Chefs Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu. Relax with a gingham picnic blanket, delectable fresh, prepared bites, and champagne on ice as you overlook manicured seasonal flowers.
Pro Tip: Lutie’s, the garden restaurant, is a place to take in a festive atmosphere and easy chef-driven dinner menus.
3. The Shady Villa Hotel, Salado
The Shady Villa Hotel, built during the mid-1800s, was a rest stop for Sam Houston, George Custer, and Jesse James along the Chisholm Trail. In 1943, the Bibbers remodeled the hotel and reopened it as the Stagecoach Inn. The Stagecoach restaurant made significant notoriety as a roadside destination, a regular lunch stop for travelers. Taste the legendary hush puppies, chicken fried steak, and Strawberry Kiss dessert.
In 2015, developers teamed up to restore the historic property. The Stagecoach Restaurant came first, rebuilding the brand and the restaurant’s reputation. Phase two focused on renovating the outdoor event space, hotel rooms, and a new pool and spa.
The hotel reopened in fall 2021 under new management, Austin’s Bunkhouse Hotel Group. With the 48-room hotel rechristened as the 19th century Shady Villa Hotel, its original name came with an old summer camp theme offering a quick weekend getaway for families. Lounge around the pool, enjoy bocce or horseshoes, have lawn races, ride cruiser bikes, and visit car shows and farmers markets in the parking lot.
You have a variety of room types, including poolside king and queen rooms (some with
patios), heritage oak king and queen rooms, two poolside suites, and two heritage oak suites.
Pro Tip: Order breakfast, lunch, or dinner plus weekend brunch at the Stagecoach Restaurant, including the infamous chicken fried steak, Stagecoach Smash Burger, or the local 44 Farms steak.
4. Hotel Havana, San Antonio
Situated on Museum Reach, a quiet stretch of San Antonio’s River Walk, the Hotel Havana is a 27-room historic property. The Mediterranean Revival architecture, rich in Spanish Colonial history with a calm Caribbean vibe, makes it one of the most authentic places to stay in San Antonio.
Restored by the famed Austin-based Bunkhouse Hospitality group, no two guest rooms are alike. The rooms feature original Bastrop pine floors, antique furniture, Turkish rugs, and vintage Cuban artwork, from comfortable studios to the opulent two-floored penthouse.
The public spaces meld Mexican and Cuban cultures with old-world décor and vibrant color. The basement cocktail den and Havana Bar feel like a hidden speakeasy. The second-floor courtyard patio and each floor’s front balconies offer sun-soaked views.
Pro Tip: Ocho, the hotel’s glass-enclosed conservatory restaurant perched along the River Walk, offers Pan-Latin dishes by Chef Jessica Kuykendall featuring breakfast, an all-day menu, weekend brunch, and weekly happy hour.
5. Hotel Emma – The Pearl In San Antonio
The Hotel Emma continues to wow travelers with the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hotel Rankings: Best San Antonio Hotel, Best Texas Hotel, and seventh Best U.S. Hotel — chosen from more than 35,000 properties.
A stay at the Hotel Emma blends the hotel’s historical San Antonio atmosphere, excellent food, pure luxury, and ultimate relaxation. You’ll enjoy a variety of great rooms, from the original Brewhouse Tower to the modern River Cellars.
Unique touches include a welcome margarita, clawfoot tubs, Frette towels, Dos Carolinas robes, and my favorite, seasonally-sourced South Texas treats hidden away in the armoire.
Events created especially for guests include the Hotel Emma History Tour or the private GO RIO San Antonio River Cruise, taking in the unique art displays along the River Walk with beer, wine, and light bites. Check the events calendar for Latin Jazz Wednesdays, Sternewirth Sessions, Brewmeister’s Alley, Smoke Shack at the Larder on the patio, and more.
Pro Tip: Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Supper, part bistro, part farm table headed by Chef John Brand. Savor the seared halibut, crispy smoked quail, or a prime beef ribeye, accompanied by vegetables like charred cabbage, potato puree, or caramelized shallots. Save room for mascarpone cheesecake mousse.
6. The Hotel Galvez, Galveston
This AAA four-Diamond property, the Grand Hotel Galvez, is the only premium historic beachfront hotel on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Galveston survived a devastating hurricane in 1900 that took over 6,000 lives. The city resurrected itself, and on June 10, 1911, the Grand Galvez opened as an esteemed Texas beach destination known as the “Queen of The Gulf.”
The hotel served as a temporary White House for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Visit the history hall and enjoy free audio tours, including celebrity visits by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Take a 20-minute ghost tour when you download the smart app. You might ask for room 501 — it’s haunted. The hotel celebrated its centennial with over $11 million in renovations.
Up to 224 elegantly decorated hotel rooms and suites combine historic charm with modern luxury. The Grand Suites recognize Galveston’s rich heritage with a separate living area, wet bar and refrigerator, premium amenities, and a king-size bed with luxury linens.
The Grand Galvez Spa offers relaxing massages, refreshing facials, and premier body treatments using healthy ingredients.
Pro Tip: The Galvez Bar & Grill serves freshly caught Gulf Coast seafood and Lone Star State specials in a gorgeous space with floor-to-ceiling windows.
7. The Stockyards Hotel, Fort Worth
Known for its cowboy history, the iconic Stockyards Hotel shines as the place to stay in the Stockyards National Historic District in Fort Worth. The cattle baron atmosphere, Texas-Style hospitality, and unique guestroom décor make this Old West boutique hotel a relaxing and comfortable retreat.
Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and Tanya Tucker stayed in the Celebrity Suite, with a large king bedroom, sitting area, fireplace, marbled tub, and shower. The dining table, wet bar, refrigerator, and sofa that converts to a queen bed add to your comfort. The private outside deck includes a cozy hot tub.
Or stay in the Bonnie and Clyde Junior Suite featuring a king bed, seating area, dining table and chairs, a writing desk, and a full luxury bathroom. Make sure to read the poem written by Bonnie for Clyde.
The Fort Worth Hotel episode of Taylor Sheridan’s 1883 took place in the Stockyards Hotel. You’ll recognize the staircase.
Pro Tip: Have dinner at H3 Ranch Restaurant next door to the hotel. Choose from prime steaks, rainbow trout, barbecue ribs, or spit-roasted pig for the best in good eats.