I’m always hesitant to give a full review of a hotel after just a one night stay. So while this won’t be a review per se, I’ll share my experience at the Hotel Icon in downtown Houston, which I thought was a fantastic hotel that I’d look forward to staying at again. The Hotel Icon is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The Autograph Collection is a group of boutique hotels that are either historic or unique in some sort of nature. Before the Hotel Icon, my only other Autograph Collection experience was the Algonquin in New York City.
The Hotel Icon was previously the Union National Bank Building, constructed in 1911. It’s a historic landmark downtown, and the hotel has this really cool “Old Texas” feel to it. There are large marble columns, and the lobby and restaurant are all built into one large room. The bar stools are upholstered in cow print, and the check-in desk sits right in front of the original bank vault. The beautiful room combined with the vault make for a very striking first impression.
Checking in was very pleasant. All the staff members were really friendly, and they recognized my Marriott Platinum status. They gave me a choice of a welcome amenity or points. I picked the points. I was then informed that while they didn’t have a Concierge Lounge, they had a breakfast voucher for me. They said it was good for a continental breakfast, but upon closer investigation, it was really just a $12 voucher (which happens to be the price of the continental breakfast). That was great for me because I’d rather order off the menu and take the $12 discount. The staff members told me that i was upgraded to a “Superior King” room. I’m not sure if there really is a different between the room I was given and a standard King room, but the room was very nice.
Actually, it was huge. The room was about as big as you could get without classifying it as a suite. When you first enter, there’s a small hallway with the bathroom on your left and the room in front of you. The room opens up to a large space with an HDTV, a desk, a couple lounge chairs, and the bed.
The bathroom was equally large. There was a very large shower with glass walls in the corner, and there was a big tub next to it. A window next to the tub opened up to the rest of the room.
All in all, I was extremely impressed with the room. After getting some work done in the room, I went down to the gym for a workout. What a cool gym! I really appreciate when hotels put a good amount of resources into gyms. Typically, I find that Marriotts have mediocre gyms while W Hotels almost always have great ones. Westin gyms are usually decent, and in my limited experience with Hyatt gyms, I put them more in the Marriott camp. The Hotel Icon gym is definitely in that higher end. Free weights, treadmills, and weight machines filled the large room. The style of the gym was really cool too. All of the machines were anodized bright red, the roof was bright red, and when it was all lit up, it just looked really neat. I had a great workout there before I headed out to Ninfa’s on Navigation for some awesome Tex Mex.
I didn’t have a car so I figured I would need a cab to get to dinner. I went downstairs to inquire about a cab, and the front desk informed me that the hotel had a free car service that I could use to go anywhere within a reasonable distance. Cool! I went outside to the valet stand, and they told me the car would be back in 5 minutes to take me to dinner. It was a nice suburban with leather seats. When I got to dinner, the driver gave me a card and told me to give them a call when I was ready to be picked up to return to the hotel. When I called the car service after dinner, the car was there in less than 15 minutes. Very convenient.
I went to bed, and I woke up early the next day to prepare for a webinar I had to give from my hotel room. I went down for some breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, Line & Lariat. Almost all of the menu items were pitched as unique “Texas style” meals. I.E. chicken fried steak benedict. Those all sounded a bit too hearty for me so I went with the french toast, which was absolutely delicious
I asked for a late checkout that day so I could get my work done from the hotel in the first half of the day. I was given a 2PM checkout without any questions asked, and then at the end of the day, I left for the next hotel. I needed to stay at the Hyatt in order to get some nights for that sweet promotion. I felt a bit weird asking the complimentary car service to take me to another hotel, but oh well that’s life.
All in all, I really liked the Hotel Icon. Next time I’m in downtown Houston, there’s a great chance that I’ll stay here again. The rooms are huge, the staff is extremely friendly, and it has a great sense of style. I highly recommend giving it a shot.