August 11, 2022

Thompson Hotels Bets Big on Texas

When I told a colleague I would be touring three Thompson Hotels in Texas, the…

Thompson Hotels Bets Big on Texas

When I told a colleague I would be touring three Thompson Hotels in Texas, the response was “Thompson who?”

He could be forgiven for not being familiar with the luxury hotel brand founded in 2001, which grew slowly until it was acquired by Hyatt in 2018. There are plans to accelerate that growth, particularly in Texas, where Thompson opened properties in Dallas (2020), San Antonio (2021), and Austin (2022), at a rapid clip. A Houston property is in the works for early 2023.

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“We have been targeting vibrant urban destinations that drive both business and leisure travel,” explains David Tarr, Senior Vice President of Development for the Americas at Hyatt. “These Texas cities are great examples of destinations that fit these objectives for Thompson Hotels and Hyatt.”

Targeting sophisticated, curious travelers seeking luxury hotels with clean design and thought-provoking art, each of the properties I visited was distinctive for its own particular reasons. Thompson Dallas seemed to revel in the “bigness” of the city with magnetic artwork and buzzy restaurants. Thompson Austin celebrates the youthfulness of the Texas capital with contemporary dining and indoor-outdoor spaces in a building shared with the mid-market tommie brand concept. Thompson San Antonio soaks in the earthy art of its San Antonio environs, drawing guests and locals to its ultra-lounge rooftop and expansive pool deck.

Overall, guests at Thompson properties can expect museum-like interiors in boutique sizes and a fresh familiarity in the service delivery—brand peers might include W Hotels, Fairmont, and JW Marriott.

Thompson Dallas

The entrance at Thompson Dallas is Big-D grand—guests walk a gauntlet of small eye-catching delights in a well-furnished multistory gallery lobby accented with giant copper-colored chandeliers.

I chatted with Grace Cooper, Assistant Director of Samuel Lynne Galleries (of which there’s an outpost just off the lobby) about the art selected for the hotel, in particular the David Yarrow black-and-white photographs that punctuate the elevator lobby. Stylized western scenes tend to stop the viewed in their tracks. Is that horse really flying? Are those Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders leading longhorns through the streets of downtown? Is that a cowgirl tied to those railroad tracks?

Sophisticated on the surface, the photographs give a whimsical-yet-meditative view of the West. The lobby also features paintings by local artists JD Miller and David Bates.

The restaurants at Thompson Dallas are also statement pieces. There’s the hip “jewelbox restaurant” Catbird on the 10th floor, where more of the art is on display – everything ranging from Tyler Shields photographs to a bejeweled Russian nesting doll bearing the Double-C marque of Chanel. The cocktail menu focuses on classics two ways: traditional mixes, and the bar’s updates, and the food leans the side of reimagined bar comfort food with Crab Rangoon Dip, Katsu Sandwiches, and pork bao buns.

Seriously luxe is the 49th floor’s Monarch, where you can let the chef prepare a tasting menu for you. We did, and were presented with oysters, oscetra caviar with blinis and house made potato chips, followed by a trio of crudo, truffled wagyu tataki, king crab leg pasta flambéed tableside, and truffled tenderloin before being presented a big finish souffle.

When not imbibing, guests can relax at the 9th floor spa (with its own outdoor pool) or the infinity pool and cabanas perched above the breakfast spot Nine at the National.

Thompson Austin

Where Thompson Dallas is big and bold, Thompson Austin has lots of nooks and crannies to explore. It shares the building with the tommie Austin, a more moderate brand with rooms about half the size of the Thompson (the wings can be told apart by their carpet – black for Thompson, red for tommie).

They share public spaces, however, and there’s no shortage of those to delight. The Grey Market is an energetic lunch counter-like space that does hot breakfast (the cheesy grits were on point) with counter service in addition to takeaway, coffees and a bakery case piled with goodies, plus other grab-and-go items. Next door is the more tranquil Diner Bar—similar menu, but more of a three-meal concept with (this being Austin) frequent live music.

Upstairs, near the pool deck lined with comfy recliners and plush rentable cabanas where I spent a warm afternoon sipping smokey margaritas and nibbling a torta from Wax Myrtle’s the indoor-outdoor Mediterranean-inspired restaurant. There are a lot of shareables on the dinner menu, with items like boiled peanut hummus and warm truffled feta with honey. Heartier appetites might graze (as I did) on marinated skirt steak with avocado salsa.

An important note: although the hotel is close to the revelry of Sixth Street, the noise doesn’t seem to be an issue—the double-glazed windows of my Brazos Suite ensured I was well-cocooned from the mayhem, enough to get some good use out of the vinyl turntable next to the Nespresso machine.

Thompson San Antonio

When friends found out I was visiting this hotel, their response was immediate: “You have to try Landrace.”

I’d already planned on it, but the endorsement was encouraging. I sat at the cool stone bar overlooking the exhibition kitchen to chat with my server and the chefs while we all glistened together in the heat of the wood oven. Blue corn fritters, beet salad, a strip steak with seared scallops and a decadent carrot cake were all presented in turn—earthy options celebrating the rooted fecundity of fertile Central Texas.

If Landrace is rooted in the soil, The Moon’s Daughters is the provenance of the gods. Located on the rooftop and inspired by the Greek Goddess of the moon, this columned indoor-outdoor space turns out layered takes on Mediterranean cooking with an eclectic cocktail program, and a buzzy, youthful vibe.

In between heaven and earth are the plush guest rooms (my Skyline Suite had a slipper-shaped tub in the expansive bathroom, and a stocked wet bar), and the “amenity deck”, home to the expansive pool with giant cabanas (I had a massage in one, poolside, before the heat of the day crept in). Later on, when the bar opens, it’s nice to have the (reservable) cabana when the pool fills up—they’re stocked with ice water and other soft drinks, cushy chairs and couches and outlets to charge devices.


Skyline Suite at Thompson San Antonio (Photo by Scott Laird)

On a quiet part of the Riverwalk somewhat outside the downtown tourist loop, Thompson San Antonio is in the midst of the city’s blooming arts district. One morning I cycled through the neighborhood with Mural Ride Bike Tours to explore the city’s hidden-in-plain-site street art scene. The hotel is also convenient to San Antonio’s vibrant Pearl District.

The Takeaway

Thompson Hotels in Texas are on the make – energetic and sophisticated, they tend to draw out their neighborhoods for the benefit of their guests by being neighborhood attractions unto themselves, curating the best blend of local and global arts and dining into distinctive destination hotels.

The Math

Rates start between $300 – $400 per night depending on availability and season

Instagrammable Moments

Food, Views, Infinity Pools – take your pick.

Loyalty

World of Hyatt

Good to Know

Be sure to check in before arrival on the World of Hyatt app—you can use it to chat with hotel staff, request forgotten items, or download a mobile guest room key.