San Antonio’s Riverwalk’s Hotel History Has Two Significant Gems

Boat ride on at the Riverwalk in San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas’ Riverwalk, the pedestrian walkway that meanders along either side of the San Antonio River through the middle of the city’s historic downtown is a lively must-see for its array of restaurants, shops and cultural attractions. Whether one is walking along the pathways and over the stone bridges that cross the river at various points, or on a tour boat that leisurely travels along this stretch of the river, here’s where the city hums with vibrancy and the hotel scene is part of the mix. Here are two options that have historical significance to San Antonio’s downtown vibe.

Each is within walking distance to many of San Antonio’s attractions including the La Villita Historic Arts Village and the Alamo, the UNESCO World Heritage site and former Spanish Mission where the Battle of the Alamo took place in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. Here’s where Davy Crockett and all other defenders lost their lives, and 600 or more Mexican soldiers died or were wounded in the battle.

Hotel Palacio del Rio – This  21 floor, 485 guest room, hacienda-style hotel was an architectural milestone when it was constructed in 1968. Built for the World’s Fair, HemisFair ’68, the hotel is the first to use modular construction where each room was constructed separately and then assembled. In 2011, the hotel was updated in a modern style that reflects its Texas roots and the city’s Spanish heritage. Every guest room has a Riverwalk or a city view.

Located right on the banks of the river, the Hotel Palacio del Rio is one of the starting points for a river boat tour. One of the kiosks to buy a boat ticket is right outside the hotel.

If you are interested in grabbing a drink or a bite to eat, Hotel Palacio Del Rio has that too. There’s Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub with its nightly sing-a-long and piano entertainment, Rincon Alegre Lobby Bar, and the Tex’s Riverwalk Sports Bar.

Room rates: $189-$244. Consider booking the Bed and Breakfast package. For $20 more, the rate includes two buffet breakfasts. Self park off site garage- $29. Valet parking $42. Make your reservation at the hotel website or through an OTA like Travelocity.

Menger Hotel – The exquisite, historic Menger Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi. Built in 1859, the hotel was, and still is, a centerpiece for elegance and gentility. With its creamy exterior, wrought iron balconies,and lavish decor this Victorian-era stunner is one of San Antonio’s architectural beauties. Throughout the hotel from the historically accurate in-size Menger Petite rooms with their double beds and writing desk to the Victorian Standard, also historically accurate including antique furnishings to the more modern deluxe two queens or king bed rooms, comfort is mixed with a bit of 19th century opulence. The blend is a marvelous reflection of San Antonio’s high brow past –and present.

Menger Petite Room

For an extra dose of history, head to the Colonial Room Restaurant or the Menger Bar. In the oldest part of the hotel, the they go back to the days when Teddy Roosevelt used the bar as a hiring spot for his Rough Riders. Named as one of the top 10 historic bars in the United States, the Menger Bar was built as an exact replica of London’s House of Lords Pub. Some of the other notable folks who attended functions at the hotel are: Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee and Oscar Wilde. The Colonial Room Restaurant is known for its Sunday Brunches and signature dishes like the mango ice-cream that’s been served at the hotel for more than 100 years. This ice cream was served at both of President Clinton’s inaugurations.

Room rates start at $175 for a Menger Petite Room. For super swanky and historic, stay in one of the Victorian Suites. The Roy Rogers Suite where Rogers stayed along with his wife Dale Evans is $295. Or settle into the Teddy Roosevelt Luxury Suite for $549. Check all room rates at the Menger Hotel website. You can also compare rates and make a reservation at Expedia.


Post and photos except for Menger Petite Room courtesy of Jamie Rhein. The room photo is courtesy of Menger Hotel.

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