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Where to Stay, Play and Relax in Houston

The Worth guide to hotels, restaurants and experiences in Houston.

BY Sandra Ramani | Cities | Jul 18, 2019
Houston Texas Photo by Shutterstock.com

World-class cultural institutions, James Beard-recognized dining, reinvigorated urban spaces, hotels that surprise and delight—Houston has got them all. Some of the best reasons why Space City is booming can be found in its attractions and distractions; read on for a must-do list for your next visit south.

READ MORE: Houston is Becoming the Cultural Capital of the South

Arts & Culture

HIRAM BUTLER GALLERY

Established in 1984, this gallery draws collectors and art buffs from all over the world, thanks to owner Butler’s long-standing relationships with and representation of a roster of noted contemporary artists. Whether emerging or established, he’s got it. 4520 Blossom St., info@hirambutler.com, 713.863.7097, hirambutler.com

HOUSTON BALLET

The world-renowned Houston Ballet is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a season full of classics (like Stanton Welch’s Romeo and Juliet), world premieres (from noted choreographers like Arthur Pita and Zhang Disha),and annual favorites like The Nutcracker and the Academy Spring Showcase. 501 Texas Ave., info@houstonballet.org, 713.227.2787, houstonballet.org

THE MENIL COLLECTION

Founded on the expansive collection and keen eye of mid-century Parisian transplants John and Dominique de Menil, this accessible museum showcases everything from Byzantine pieces, works by emerging Texas artists and the largest trove of Magritte works outside of Europe, all in a Renzo Piano-designed main building. A dedicated Drawing Institute dedicated to restoring and showcasing works on paper opened in late 2018. 1533 Sul Ross St., info@menil.org, 713.525.9400, menil.org

THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON

Following a landmark expansion, the museum’s 14-acre complex now features a refreshed Isamu Noguchi-designed sculpture park, an arts school, a state-of-the-art conservation center and the main museum, with its rich collection, acclaimed exhibits, movie series, weekly events and more. 1001 Bissonnet St., 713.639.7300, mfah.org

Hotels

THE FOUR SEASONS, HOUSTON

Following a renovation, this downtown mainstay now welcomes travelers with serene accommodations (choose from views of the city or the pool), on-point service, a wine bar and a Richard Sandoval-conceived lobby lounge stocked with over 160 bourbons and whiskeys. Book the state-of-the-art Topgolf Swing Suite for a round of virtual golf or baseball, or head to the spa for a signature hydrafacial or a fitness workout designed by soccer star Michael Chabala. 1300 Lamar St., 713.650.1300, fourseasons.com/houston 

THE LANCASTER HOTEL

Under the direction of new owner Jay Shinn—a Dallas-based hotelier and noted artist—this historic 1920s-era downtown hotel has been completely restored and revived to feature 93 inviting rooms and suites, a vibrant restaurant (with sidewalk terrace) and a collection of over 200 pieces of contemporary art both specially commissioned and culled from galleries. While sipping a welcome glass of bubbly, keep an eye out for works by Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd and Shinn himself. 701 Texas Ave., concierge@thelancaster.com, 713.228.9500, thelancaster.com

THE POST OAK HOTEL AT UPTOWN HOUSTON

Billionaire restauranteur, hotelier and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta upped his hospitality game in 2019 with the opening of this five-star hub, home to oversized rooms and residential-style suites, several dining outlets, the best hotel spa in town, a cabana-ringed pool, a helipad—and even an on-site Rolls-Royce showroom. 1600 W. Loop S., 346.227.5000, thepostoakhotel.com

READ MORE: Spotlight: The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston

Dining

BRAVERY CHEF HALL

Opening in late-summer 2019 in downtown’s luxury Aris Market Square residential tower, this 9,000-square-foot spot takes the food hall concept to another level, offering several curated food and beverage options owned and operated by the chefs (or sommeliers or mixologists) themselves. Opening concepts include a craft butchery-led kitchen, a gourmet pasta spot, Vietnamese eats from two noted chefs and a patio cocktail garden. 409 Travis St., braverychefhall.com 

EUNICE

Chef Drake Leonards’ chic new spot melds Louisiana Cajun and Creole traditions with Houston’s southern and coastal flavors in dishes like Texas redfish court-bouillon and shellfish-stuffed oysters. 3737 Buffalo Speedway, info@eunicerestaurant.com, 832.491.1717, eunicerestaurant.com

HIMALAYA

Everyone from families and tourists to local chefs on their days off gather at this low-key spot for chef Kaiser Lashkari’s take on Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Dishes like steak tikkas, Hyderabadi-style chicken masala and biryani rice dishes people obsess over—plus the “you’re all family” vibe—helped Lashkari and Himalaya garner a James Beard Award semi-finalist nomination in 2019. 6652 Southwest Freeway, 713.532.2837, himalayarestauranthouston.com

HUGO’S

Legend (and James Beard Award-winner) Hugo Ortega’s H-Town group operates several restaurants in town, but to get your full fix of Tex-Mex and regional Mexican classics, head to Hugo’s. In addition to the extensive regular menu, seasonal selections (like a squash blossom menu), vegetarian and vegan options and overflowing weekend brunches draw the crowds. 1600 Westheimer Rd., 713.524.7744, hugosrestarant.net

ONE/FIFTH

Following his James Beard Best Chef: Southwest Award for helming restaurants like Underbelly and Georgia James, chef Chris Shepherd created One/Fifth, a concept that involves opening five distinct restaurants—complete with new menus and décor—in one historic space, over five years. So far, he’s launched a steakhouse, a Mediterranean spot and one focusing on Spain, France and Italy; next up is Gulf Coast cuisine, which will run through July 2020. 1658 Westheimer Rd., info@onefifthhouston.com, 713.955.1024, onefifthhouston.com

Drinking

ANVIL BAR & REFUGE

At this James Beard semi-finalist nominee bar, you’ll find a list of 100 stellar cocktails (including a rotating selection of eight seasonal original creations), plus a warm neighborhood vibe guided by some of the friendliest expert mixologists around. 1424 Westheimer Rd., Suite B; info@anvilhouston.com, 713.523.1622, anvilhouston.com

BCN

In addition to serving upscale Spanish cuisine in an elegant setting, this restaurant (named for the Barcelona airport code, and located in a converted former home) is beloved for its standout gin and tonic offerings, which include versions infused with herbs and spices such as cardamom, fresh lavender and pink peppercorns. 4210 Roseland St., info@bcnhouston.com, 832.834.3411, www.bcnhouston.com

THE CELLAR AT THE POST OAK HOTEL

With $3.5 million at their disposal, the master and advanced sommeliers of The Post Oak have amassed a 30,000-bottle collection that spans 23 countries and several centuries (some of the oldest vintages date back to the 1800s). Some of the collection can be enjoyed at the hotel’s various restaurants and bars, but to really savor a special wine journey, schedule a sommelier-led dinner or tasting in the Cellar’s private room. Contact the hotel directly to set up an experience. 1600 W. Loop S., 346.227.5000, thepostoakhotel.com/restaurants/the-cellar

Experiences

BERGAMOS RETREAT

Located in the Houston suburb of Friendswood, this one-stop shop for wellness—founded by a granddaughter of cosmetics legend Mary Kay Ash (yes, that Mary Kay)—is home to everything from a salon, makeup studio and café (complete with wine bar) to spa rooms equipped with state-of-the-art equipment like massage tables with harmonic sound or crystal therapy. Come for a treatment or the whole day. 313 E. Edgewood Dr., Friendswood, spa@bergamosretreat.com, 281.992.3775, bergamosretreat.com 

MASON & SONS

Renowned for its bespoke and made-to-measure menswear, London-based Mason & Sons has also acquired and revived several smaller British design labels known for iconic pieces, from Sean Connery’s James Bond-era shirts to Mick Jagger’s teddy bear coat. Opened this summer, Mason & Sons’ first dedicated U.S. showroom/studio sits in a stylish townhouse, where clients can sip espresso while browsing sample pieces and crafting their own custom creations. 3333 Lake St., info@masonandsons.com, 713.485.6636, masonandsons.com

SPACE CENTER HOUSTON

As the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center, this is your hub for all things out-of-this-world—particularly this year, as the organization celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Tour engaging exhibits, attend astronaut-led events and go inside replica space shuttles; add on a visit to the Johnson center to tour training facilities and Mission Control. 1601 NASA Pkwy., schinfo@spacecenter.org, 281.244.2100, spacecenter.org

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