History is in the walls and grounds (and still in the making) at The Menger Hotel. The building sprawls right next door to the Alamo—it was built just 23 years after the tragic siege. This grand Victorian-style hotel has seen its share of famous guests, including Mae West, Ulysses S. Grant, Oscar Wilde, Teddy Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, Babe Ruth, and Robert E. Lee, whom, hotel legend has it, rode his horse through the halls. The original restored building, with its many additions over the past century, covers an entire city block. The location is terrific—between the Alamo and the Rivercenter Mall, a block from the River Walk, and next door to a handy drugstore in case you forget a toothbrush. The Victorian lobby is striking, as is the enormous oval stained-glass ceiling in the oldest part of the hotel. The Menger Bar is one of San Antonio's finest dark taverns, and Teddy Roosevelt once recruited his Rough Riders here. Besides all that, the hotel is said to be haunted by 32-some-odd ghosts. Rooms in the northern "modern" sections tend to be a bit plain and wouldn't be my choice—other hotels offer much better rooms than these for the price. However, the suites in the original Victorian section, furnished with period pieces, are enchanting and well worth a stay. The King Ranch Suite overlooking Alamo Plaza is my favorite, and the Mae West Suite has all the vamp and fun of its namesake. The hotel's large, hidden inner courtyard, with its towering palms and fragrant flora, takes guests back in time, offering a serene retreat from the bustling city scene just outside The Menger's front doors. Travelers wanting a sleek modern hotel may not love The Menger, but those who appreciate the traditional grace and charm of historic properties will adore this grand dame of San Antonio. I always walk visitors through the lobby when visiting downtown—it leaves a lovely impression.
San Antonio› Hotel
The Menger Hotel
204 Alamo Plaza (at Crockett St.)
Our Rating Neighborhood Central/Downtown/Alamo Plaza Phone 800/345-9285 or 210/223-4361 Prices $129–$209 double, $209–$599 suite, internet specials sometimes available Units 316 Amenities Restaurant, bar, fitness room, Jacuzzi, outdoor heated pool, room service, spa, valet parking ($28), pets accepted with $100 fee, Wi-Fi (free) Web site The Menger HotelBook a Room Now