I don’t normally write hotel reviews. It’s not really my thing. But then again I don’t normally stay at a place like Mokara Hotel & Spa, either. First, full disclosure: neither Mokara nor its umbrella organization (Omni Hotels) nor its parent company (TRT Holdings) even knows I’m writing this, so no, I’m not getting a kickback. On the other hand, I did take all the fancy soaps from the bathroom when we checked out, but I would have done that anyway. They were ours to use, so it’s not stealing. And just in case you think I’m an unscrupulous, thieving hotel guest, you should know that when I realized they forgot to charge me for the outrageously overpriced dark chocolate/sea salt toffees I broke down and ate from the minibar one night (post-BBQ, I just gotta have chocolate), I made sure to tell them post-haste.
Anyway, a few years ago, the good people at Travel & Leisure™ Magazine released a list of what they considered to be the best hotel in every US state. Mokara was their pick for Texas. I discovered this little factoid when I was researching where to stay on San Antonio’s Riverwalk, our chosen destination to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
Now, being the savings-inclined Household Financial Penny Pincher that I am, I would normally balk at paying so much for a hotel room*, but a milestone anniversary was just the excuse I needed to go all-out luxury sans guilt. (Guilt is a real vacation-ruiner, if you ask me.)
*$395/night + state occupancy tax + county occupance tax + city occupancy tax for a room with balcony facing the Riverwalk.
The above-and-beyond experience began before we even left home. The day before we departed, I came home to a message (Yes, we still have a home phone with answering machine. I also balance the checkbook every month. So sue me. I have trouble adapting to the modern age.) from Mokara, pre-welcoming us to their hotel and asking if there were any special requests we had before we arrived.
My inquiries about early check-in and late check-out were met with a friendly, “not-a-problem” attitude, and minutes after getting into our room, while unpacking, we were surprised by a knock at the door. It was a chambermaid bearing a tray of chilled champagne, fruits, chocolates, and French macarons – just Mokara’s way of saying “Happy Anniversary.”
Somewhere online I’d read that for rooms facing the Riverwalk, a high floor was recommended to mitigate the street noise that would invariably emanate from the day-trippers, vacationers, the revelers down below. This was wise advice. Though the view might have been a little prettier on a lower floor, it would have been much noisier, too, especially on Saturday night.
In truth, there are a lot of fancy-schmancy hotels on the Riverwalk, but none of them had the winning combination of beautiful room (with Nespresso® machine – waking up to good coffee is crucial), balcony (a waste if you don’t use it, but we use ours whenever we’re lucky enough to have one), and spa. The husband and I were in San Antonio for a very specific type of vacation ratio: one part sightseeing to one part relaxation.
Being carless in San Antonio meant we walked everywhere. Everyone walks the Riverwalk, but we went much further afield. Moreover, we made use of their nicely-equipped rooftop gym. All this physical exertion meant that in the afternoons, we liked to chill a
bit lot. The hotel’s rooftop pool and second floor spa – replete with jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and relaxation room – called out to us the same way chocolate beckons after a BBQ meal.
We used these amenities every single day. Frankly, I don’t know how someone could stay here and not use these features, but the world is full of people who do strange things.
The husband revealed our plebian roots when he called the front desk to ask where the 6th floor ice machine was. Silly man, ice machines are for Holiday Inns! Mokara Hotel & Spa brings you a bucket of ice on request. They will also draw you a bath, a Downton Abbey-esque, trio-of-bath-salts luxury the husband couldn’t help indulging in. (No photo exists. You’ll have to use your imagination.)
Fluffy bathrobes, soft slippers, jetted tubs, chilled wet washcloths, and cucumbers for your eyes while you sizzle in the sauna. These are a few of my (new) favorite things.