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.”

Mokara Hotel & Spa

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.

Mokara Hotel & Spa (4)
The view looking down from our 6th floor balcony

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.

Mokara Hotel & Spa (13)Mokara Hotel & Spa (17)Mokara Hotel & Spa (16)

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.

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41 thoughts

  1. One part sightseeing to one part relaxation sounds like a well-balanced trip! Glad you had a great time celebrating such a significant and beautiful milestone as 20th wedding anniversary – champagne and chocolates are indeed a fantastic welcoming gesture. Thanks for sharing and have a good weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sounds like a really great stay! I always use the gym when I travel (I always eat extra when I travel) and I’ve seen some nice gyms, but a rooftop gym?! I’ve been pondering a Texan vacation to break up the ever-lasting New England winter…perhaps I’ll have to look into San Antonio!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Almost certainly. I know some hotels are starting to use special programs to donate the opened soaps that are only used once or twice, but for most hotels, I just hate the idea that a barely used bar is just going to be thrown away. At least, that’s what I assume they do…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t normally grin when I read hotel reviews. I sure did throughout this one—thank you!

    We once stayed in a place in Spain that had ashtrays (yes, they did!) and small vases that had engraved in them, in Spanish, “I was stolen from” and the name of the place. We didn’t take them, but it seemed like a great free advertisement… built into the cost? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This looks lovely! Glad you had a nice anniversary. I worked in SA for 6 months last year, how did I miss this?? Do you write checks at the grocery store too? Lol

    Liked by 2 people

      1. When we went to Bali the hotels there seemed to all (the three we stayed in) give free toothbrushes…I now own 6 spare toothbrushes if you know of anyone that needs some really cheaps oral hygiene equip

        Liked by 1 person

  5. In other news, I have just spent the past hour writing a response (HUGELY OVERDUE) to your sunshine blog nomination of my page and I can’t post it! I’m getting a pop up that says ‘The response is not valid JSON response’ every time I try to publish – damn this website!!

    Liked by 2 people

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