As one of the largest cities in the United States, you could spend days upon days exploring all of the subcultures that reside in San Antonio. We’ve spent many years on the outskirts of town for the mere reason that downtown was “too far of a drive.” This is completely understandable, especially when you find yourself near 1604. When we started the blog Twenty Something SA, Jacqueline and I decided to toss our comfort zones aside; no part of the city was off limits, especially downtown. We launched Twenty Something SA on Jan. 3 with a mission – to inspire the people in our beloved city to explore and be proud of San Antonio.
As we began driving to and from different openings, events and attractions, we thought to ourselves, “We should vacation here – a staycation, perhaps.” And the staycation was born. Recently we had our first staycation at the Hilton Palacio del Rio.
Western decor, bright colors and modernized architecture make up the upscale Hilton Palacio del Rio. Located at 200 S. Alamo St., we found ourselves in the middle of downtown San Antonio with Houston Street only a couple blocks away and the infamous River Walk below us.
Originally built in 1968, the Hilton Palacio del Rio was built in an impressive 202 days with all rooms being constructed several miles away and put together one by one, as if it were a massive Lego project. Complete with carpeting, furniture and television sets, modular rooms were constructed and lifted by cranes to create the 21-story hotel. In 2011, renovations began to upgrade and modernize rooms, include the suite we recently stayed in.
Jacqueline and I arrived to the hotel with happiness flowing through our veins. We fully intended on having an amazing vacation and overall experience in our hometown. When we walked into our room, we were greeted with a bottle of Cabernet and the most beautiful cheese plate, which didn’t last very long at all.
After the cheese plate was gone and the bottle nearing empty, I relaxed on the couch and looked out at the San Antonio skyline, thinking about how the world of downtown was just an elevator ride away.
The bedroom featured two, double beds with swivel lights in between, one full length mirror and a granite table for writing notes, working on your lap top, or just watching television.
Even the bathroom was picturesque. With round sinks, you really can’t go wrong.
Outside of the bedroom was a large room with a dining room table, a kitchen complete with a microwave, kitchen, Keurig coffee machine, and an inviting seating area. Did we mention the patios? Gorgeous views in every direction.
Once we drifted down from the clouds, we ventured outside and walked to Main Plaza. After a short ten minute walk, we found ourselves in front of the beautiful San Fernando Cathedral. We tried to enter, but did not want to disturb the mass. The cathedral is still home to an active parish, after all. My favorite part about Main Plaza are the water fountains, shooting water in seemingly random patterns into the air. I always imagine myself running through them. Maybe one day.
Next on our to-do list was a trip to Travis Park. The “Art of Umbrellas” installation by Ethel Shipton, a San Antonio based artist, was on display and we were excited to capture the umbrellas floating above our head.
As we began walking towards the park, I assured Jacqueline – multiple times – that I was fully aware of its exact location and that there was no need for our cell phones. Twenty minutes later, I reluctantly pulled out my phone and searched for Travis Park, which turned out to be three blocks north of us.
By the time we reached our final destination, we were both in dire need of water (we might have a slight issue with exaggeration). The popcorn cart in Travis Park was our refuge and we ordered two snow cones and two bottles of water. Once both beverages we devoured, we walked around under the umbrellas, slightly shading us from the sunlight. Shipton’s art installation will be up until the end of May.
Our favorite part about being downtown is that mostly everything is within walking distance, but you can always take VIA’s E route back to your hotel of choice, especially if you’re exploring on a hot, summer day. It runs every 10 minutes from 6 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Saturday.
Once we returned to our hotel, Jacqueline and I ordered Torchy’s Tacos from Postmates, a new delivery service in San Antonio that delivers from any downtown restaurant or shop. Tacos, chips and salsa, sparkling water and writing on our laptops took up the rest of our night at the Hilton Palacio del Rio. By the time I looked up from my screen, the sky was dark and the buildings lit up downtown.
Fast forward to 9 a.m. and Jacqueline and I woke up well rested and still exhilarated from our first staycation in downtown San Antonio. The breakfast buffet exceeded our expectations – fresh berries, pastries, bacon, sausage, bagels, muffins, omelets, pancakes, waffles and, of course, coffee. We sat outside along the River Walk and watched ducks jump from the water to the sidewalk every time a morsel of food hit the ground. I easily could have spent hours at the breakfast table, watching river barges pass by and sipping on coffee. Can we wake up to this every morning?
Guest rooms at the Hilton Palacio del Rio start at around $199, depending on where and when you book your room. Check in is at 3 p.m. and check out is at noon, giving you plenty of time to wake up early and enjoy the morning breeze on a patio that will either be facing the River Walk or the San Antonio skyline. If you want to avoid the crowds, I’d suggest ordering room service and spending the morning in your hotel room, miles away from any responsibilities you may have.
We want to know – will you be taking a staycation in San Antonio?
Full Disclosure: Our accommodations were complimentary of the Hilton. The public relations firm that we work for, Sammis & Ochoa, works with VIA on marketing campaigns.
*Featured Top Image: The San Antonio river located along the edge of The Hilton Palacio Del Rio. Photo by Jacqueline Fierro.