The St Anthony San Antonio has been one the most luxurious hotels in Texas since 1909. For decades this was a meeting point for the elite, businessmen, artists, and politicians. True Texas history! Better yet: it’s near the River Walk and the Alamo.
San Antonio is the second largest city in Texas, only behind Houston (and ahead of Dallas)
The St Anthony – a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio
I arrived at The St Anthony for the Rodeo season, one of the biggest in the country and one of the main attractions in the region. Many guests were there for the event.
As I entered the building it reminded me of another exclusive hotel I had stayed at previously: the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Oh, my! I’m hoping the experience lives up to the view. But a little history first…
The St Anthony Hotel San Antonio: History and Glory
Opened in 1909 as San Antonio’s largest hotel, The St Anthony soon became the darling of politicians and celebrities. Guests have included presidents, royalty, and Hollywood celebrities going back to the silent movies era.
Back then daily rates started at $1.50 for a basic room with sink and toilet, $2 if you included a bath. As a leading hotel, it was the first to offer drive-in auto lobby and the first to be a fully air-conditioned hotel.
The lobby – Peacock Alley
Of all common areas, the lobby is undoubtedly a highlight of The St Anthony. In the 1930’s it was nicknamed “Peacock Alley” as it was the place to be seen. You dared not make your grand entrance into the hotel from the street and the Texas heat.
They created a drive-in check-in directly in the garage. From there, guests would go straight to their rooms, refresh, and then mingle downstairs.
In the lobby, various pieces of furniture and fixtures remain as part of the décor, including the famous piano.
To this day the St Anthony hotel is every bride’s dream and many beginner photographers start their portfolios here. They keep tabs though. An employee asked me if I was a guest and if I had scheduled the photo shoot (I had my professional equipment with me).
The St Anthony Club
During the 1920’s and 30’s, there was prohibition. It was illegal to produce, import, transport and sell alcoholic beverages in the USA. Even with the end of the law at a national level in 1933, some Texas counties maintained restrictions on alcohol.
1958 saw a major renovation, and the hotel now had a place that would become part of Texas’ history: the St. Anthony club, a private club that brought together the elite.
At that time, alcohol drinking was only allowed in private clubs. Sales of liquor by the drink were only legalized in Texas in 1971. The St. Anthony club was one of the few places where you could have lunch with a martini.
This club quickly became the meeting place of entrepreneurs for lunch, which turned into business meetings and lead to some very important deals for the country.
Two famous deals include the creation of Southwest Airlines’ (their initial triangular routes – San Antonio-Dallas-Houston were drawn on a club’s napkin) – and the purchase of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs by Red McCombs, relocating the then unknown and bankrupt basketball team from Dallas to San Antonio.
The most recent renovation was in 2014, with the grand reopening in 2015. The St Anthony club, of course, is still a focal point.
Drinks and Dining at The St Anthony Hotel
I learned all this history with historian Debbie Gonzalez, the Director of Community Relations for the hotel. She introduced us to The St Anthony, confirmed the inspiration was the Waldorf Astoria and invited us for drinks in Haunt bar.
The name refers to a popular belief that this is one of the haunted hotels in San Antonio. The drinks are named after some of the ghosts, like “Lady in Red” and “Jilted Bride”. Check out Haunt’s menu for more examples. I was fortunate to have no ghostly experiences! 🙂
Haunt is an intimate lounge, perfect for relaxing after a busy day or before heading out for a night on the town.
San Santonio is famous for haunt stories and haunted hotels. There are several tours about it!.
Next day breakfast is in the Library Cafe, located on the Mezzanine level.
The restaurant has both indoor seating (overlooking the lobby) and outdoor (with city views). As the weather was nice, I chose the veranda to savor a traditional Texas waffle with strawberries and peaches.
Equally impressive is the restaurant Rebelle where we had dinner and a Sunday brunch. It deserves a separate post, but hint: try the spinach pudding, it’s out of this world!
Rooftop pool and terrace
This trip to San Antonio was on a warm winter weekend. In Texas, temperatures can get close to freezing between November and February, but I was lucky enough to arrive on a day of gorgeous blue sky where thermometers indicated 73 F (23 C) degrees.
Looking out the window I saw the pool. Coming from the cold New York area it seemed a mirage. It was a pleasant surprise to discover the pool was heated! There are even private cabanas for the whole family.
Also, I took the opportunity to see the terrace area. It’s an enormous outdoor space for events.
I love seeing cities from up above and here you can get a different perspective of San Antonio.
The St Anthony’s room: high tech and sophistication
I imagined that in a hotel like this the rooms would be luxurious yet comfortable. You bet! I found a few surprises too.
The spacious room
You don’t even see your suitcases in the St Anthony’s room, as there is a corridor separated by a wall between the door and the bedroom itself. In this corridor, you can find the closet, a dresser, and a workstation. This gives you the feeling of plenty of space left in the rest of the guestroom.
The bathroom is another plus. Super modern and with a shower that would fit an entire family. There is a door separating the toilet from the rest of the bathroom, also his and her sinks.
I love gadgets and new tech, so when I see a device on the bedside table I play with the buttons to see how it works. I loved the convenience of controlling the lights, temperature, and even room privacy or room service.
Once I woke up with a cleaning lady inside my room in a Las Vegas 4 star hotel. From that moment on I acquired the habit of always sleeping with the “do not disturb” sign on the door. Then every once in a while the question comes to my mind when I’m already lying down: did I put the warning outside? I loved not having to get up.
Another plus was that there was a Bose clock radio in the room. Bose!!!! Incredible audio quality!
Is The St Anthony San Antonio the right hotel for you?
Deciding where to stay is always one of the most difficult tasks when it’s your first time in a city. Here are the reasons why I want to return to The St Anthony:
- Sophistication and hospitality: You really get pampered. Bottled water is delivered to the room, there’s flavored water near the reception, bathrobe and slippers in the room and free wi-fi
- This is a 5-star hotel with daily rates starting below $200. I can not remember the last time I saw a hotel of this level for less than $300.
- Location: San Antonio is a busy tourist destination and sometimes it is difficult to find parking downtown. Being able to walk to the main attractions is very convenient. The hotel is located in front of Travis Park and 3 blocks from main attractions like the Alamo and the River Walk.
- Pets up to 40 lb (18 kg) are welcome. The St Anthony even provides a welcome kit in addition to a dog bed, a bowl, and a mat
- Amenities: In addition to everything I described above, there are still other facilities in the hotel, such as a health and fitness center, and a 24-hour business center. It has already happened to me that I arrived late in my room, bought an internet ticket for an attraction early the next day, went to the business center at 11:00 PM to print the ticket just to discover it’s already closed. I’m for making things easy!
- The same goes for breakfast, which goes until 11:00 AM. I love having the freedom to sleep a little more if I choose.
- Last but not least: if you have an electric vehicle you don’t even need to worry about fuel. They have charging stations in the garage.
The St Anthony – a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio
Address: 300 East Travis Street, San Antonio, TX, 78205, USA
Phone: +1 (210) 227-4392
Check-in: 3:00 PM | Check out: 12:00 PM
The St Anthony Hotel is part of The Luxury Collection and SPG
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P.S.: I was invited by The St. Anthony along with other journalists to visit the hotel. As always, all opinions and impressions reflect my own experience.