Four Seasons Hotel Houston Offers An Idyllic Getaway

Bandista, the hidden speakeasy at Four Seasons Hotel Houston

Houston might not be top of mind when planning a relaxing getaway. But after three nights at Four Seasons Hotel Houston, I enthusiastically endorse “Space City” as an indulgent retreat destination. While any Four Seasons hotel or resort promises the height of luxurious hospitality (ahhh, that Four Seasons bed!), the Houston locale and its range of amenities are exceptionally fun and entertaining. The downtown hotel is a one stop shop for the best of Houston cuisine, cocktails, and amusement. Here's how I enjoyed a recent stay:

Seeking a bit of warmth and sunshine after an especially gloomy Bay Area spring, and looking to follow my Golden State Warriors on their possible path to the playoffs, I found that Houston, and particularly Four Seasons Hotel Houston, would satisfy both desires. And, aside from my one evening spent at the Houston Rockets’ Toyota Center, I found the hotel to be Houston’s downtown destination, indulgent in and of itself. Arriving late evening, after checking into my spacious 19th floor suite, I headed to the lobby bar/restaurant Bayou & Bottle (the first Texas venture of world-renowned celebrity chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval) to relish a bourbon rich “Sharp Dressed Man” cocktail, garnished whimsically with a toasted marshmallow. A quick survey of this welcoming gathering spot hinted that it is enjoyed equally by locals, the 200 artfully displayed whiskies and bourbons surely part of the draw, as well as the large screens telecasting various sporting events. 

Four Seasons Hotel Houston's lobby bar & restaurant, Bayou & Bottle

The next day entailed pool time, a spa treatment, and a bit of golf (and Zombie dodgeball) followed by a quick walk around the corner for NBA action. (The hotel is also walking distance to Minute Maid Park if MLB is your thing.) Four Seasons Hotel Houston’s fourth floor pool rises above the city; its cushy chaises lounge is tended by an attentive staff that keeps guests hydrated with cocktails crafted at the outdoor bar. Also on the fourth floor is the state-of-the-art fitness center, where I walked the virtual streets of Venice on a Matrix treadmill before indulging in a rejuvenating facial at the hotel’s spa. My husband opted for the bourbon and brown sugar infused “Southern Scrub & Sip,” the denouement of which was a small pour of limited batch Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Cask Strength bourbon whiskey (created expressly for Bayou & Bottle), which he generously shared with me post treatment in the spa’s cozy relaxation room.

The 4th floor pool at Four Seasons Hotel Houston
Four Seasons Hotel Houston is home to two Topgolf Swing Suites

Refreshed and well exfoliated, we then hit the simulated links within one of the hotel’s two Topgolf Swing Suites, located adjacent to Bayou & Bottle. The two suites feature not only a variety of virtual courses from around the globe, but also assorted golf challenges and other games such as baseball pitching, football, and yes, Zombie Dodgeball (so fun!). Bayou & Bottle serves the suites with its a la carte menu featuring Southern touch items such as the Bayou Burger, Chicken Tinga Tacos, and the Drunken Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwich. Despite a full, pre-NBA game dinner, we couldn’t resist a finale of the restaurant’s famed multi-layered chocolate cake with creamy ganache and buttercream. 

Bayou & Bottle's Bayou Burger

A second full day was spent walking Houston’s remarkably pristine city streets, with local parks our goal. Nearby Discovery Green, with its mature shade trees, delivered, as did Sam Houston Park, a piece of living history amidst the city’s gleaming skyscrapers. The greenery filled park looks much as it did when it was founded in 1899 and is a City of Houston Protected Landmark and a State of Texas Historical Site. More pool time followed, my laps a refreshing retreat from the Springtime warmth, and my delicious Avocado Salad, enjoyed al fresco, a perfect panacea for my post-walk hunger. 

That afternoon, the lobby-located Krigler Boutique beckoned. One of just a handful of such boutiques in the United States (the others are in luxe hotels in San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, Dallas, Palm Beach, Miami Beach, and Bal Harbour), the iconic fragrance house, established in 1904 in St. Petersburg, is the maker of beautiful scents preferred by some of the world’s most iconic names. Jackie O, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, and many others loved the brand. Their favorites are documented, so though I might never rub shoulders with the lovely Duchess of Cambridge, I am able to smell like her with a spritz of Krigler Extraordinaire Camelia #209. And, my use of a classic Chanel handbag for the evening, compliments of the hotel’s partnership with Vivrelle, further added to a Cinderella-like aura—one in which I unabashedly basked. (You can find my one and only ever “mirror selfie,” Chanel bag in hand, on Instagram.) Hotel guests are invited during their stay to utilize the many luxe styles displayed in the lobby’s Vivrelle collection (YSL, Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc.) Guests can keep any bag as long as they like during their stay, or they can switch them out frequently. 

Four Seasons Hotel Houston's Krigler Boutique is one of few in the U.S.
The hotel's partnership with Vivrelle allows guests to borrow a luxe handbag during their stay

Evening plans entailed a pre-dinner beverage within Bandista, the hotel’s hidden speakeasy bar, inspired by illicit, Prohibition-era gathering spots and by the tequileros, or smugglers, who illegally transported tequila. A secret code and a strong push of a seemingly stationary bookcase led to the snug, softly illuminated third floor space where expert mixologists held court. While a menu of wildly creative libations is offered (such as the Dulce Far Niente, a cocktail version of the famed Italian dessert tiramisu, and the Call Me Sambaldy, a classic tiki-style drink thrown on its head with a hint of unexpected Asian spice), the Bandista team specializes in personally crafted cocktails. I declared my affinity for an Old Fashioned, and after ascertaining my sweetener preferences, the barkeep concocted a smokey, apricot tinged version that more than hit the spot. At last sip, and after an in-depth discussion with the bar team about the imperative use of proper ice within each cocktail, we stepped out of the not-so-illicit Bandista to enjoy dinner at the hotel’s signature restaurant Toro Toro

Bandista features expert mixologists
Toro Toro's Prime Tomahawk is presented and finished tableside

This award winning pan-Latin steakhouse, also imagined by Chef Sandoval, plays off the double-meaning of “toro” – bull in Spanish, and the prized tuna in Japanese. Toro Toro celebrates the vibrant flavors and convivial dining culture of Central and South America with a menu featuring rodízio-style churrasco steaks, seafood offerings, and creative, small, shareable plates of empanadas, specialty tacos, sushi and ceviche crafted from the open 'suviche” bar. I steered towards lighter fare, while it was obvious from nearby tables that the 52-ounce Prime Tomahawk for two was the star of the show. Presented tableside, the steak is finished with fragrant herbs, a splash of mezcal, and lit afire before being professionally carved and served. The spectacle was almost as entertaining as our meal-ending La Bomba, a strawberry, chocolate, and dulce de leche ice cream and brownie-filled chocolate vessel, tossed in the air to crumble on the table, and followed by a pour of vanilla and berry sauces. Wow. It was the perfect, celebratory ending to a perfect stay at Houston’s downtown destination. 

Photos courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Houston

Fran Endicott Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is a luxury focused freelance feature and travel writer for a variety of lifestyle publications and websites, editor-at-large for, senior contributor to Napa Valley Life Magazine, and a California editor for luxury travel concierge service Essentialist, specializing in the Napa Valley. Prior to her journalism career she held positions in the fields of politics, te...(Read More)

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