Best New Boutique Hotel: Hotel Havanna
havanasanantonio.com or 210/222-2008
It took Texas hotelier Liz Lambert 100 days—what she calls "super-speed"—to transform a circa 1914 Mediterranean Revival eyesore into the finest addition to San Antonio's River Walk in a decade. Welcome to the Hotel Havana, a 27-room property where Liz sheds the ranch minimalism and rock-and-roll posh of her Austin hotels for what feels like the glory days of pre-Castro Cuba. Twelve-foot ceilings and master-craftsman woodwork pair with reupholstered armchairs and couches. (Nothing like bloodred patent leather and neon orange wool to catch your eye.) And the city's dreamiest rum bar casts a spell.
But, as with all of Liz's projects, it's the onetime attorney's handpicked nuances that set the hotel apart. Authentic Cuban movie posters. Wrought iron beds. Brightly colored Smeg fridges chockful of local goodies like Mirasol salsa, Mexican Coca-Cola, and Picosos chile peanuts. This is the new San Antonio made from the best of the bygone.