A top-to-bottom refurbishment has infused a new sense of style into the Four Seasons Houston, one of the oldest properties in the hotelier's portfolio and a perennial favorite of Houston's VIP travelers.
The renovation kicked off in 2019 and carried on through the pandemic, meaning that it's only now that travelers can see the full effect of the redo.
It started in the accommodations. Four Seasons said the guestroom and suite design was under the direction of Lauren Rottet of Rottet Studios in Houston.
It described the design as "a calming color palette" of deep-blue fabrics and chairs, settees upholstered in saddle leather, contemporary art and white walls.
A refurbished suite at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston. Photo Credit: TW photo by Rebecca Tobin
The top Presidential and Penthouse suites were completely reconfigured. The new furniture in the rooms and suites was custom-designed by Houston-based Eric Brand.
Downstairs, the lobby is cool and chic, with more art, marble and wood-accented walls and plenty of comfortable chairs and couches with crisp, modern edges, all dominated by the hotel's giant staircase up to the meetings rooms. The entire space is gently scented by the beautiful new Krigler perfume boutique.
Given the Four Seasons' downtown location, proximity to the George R. Brown Convention Center and its own copious amounts of meetings space, it's no surprise it is primarily styled as a business hotel. But its new look also feels primed to attract a local crowd, and from the looks of things during my two-night stay in June, it's succeeding.
The Four Seasons calls its lobby "Houston's living room." The comfy couches and chairs at the Bayou & Bottles bar invite visitors to kick back.
The bartender stationed by the elevator Friday night mixing up welcome bourbon-and-Dr. Pepper old fashioneds and the welcome salsa and chips in my suite, served on a Texas-flag cutting board, showcase the hotel's big, Southern heart.
Bayou & Bottle bartenders know their way around an intimidating rack of bourbons, ryes and whiskeys; lockers are available for regulars to store their pricey bottles of Pappys and Japanese whiskies. A DJ spun records on Friday night to a crowd, and women struck Instagram-ready poses on the sweeping staircase.
Bandista, the hotel's new speakeasy, requires reservations. Photo Credit: TW photo by Rebecca Tobin
Around the corner are the new Topgolf Swing Suites, which are private rooms where small groups can gather; floor-to-ceiling screens can be used for playing virtual golf courses or watching football games (so Texas).
Bandista, the hotel's small speakeasy, needs reservations. A representative from the bar will meet guests in the lobby at the precise appointed time to escort them to the hidden entry. I recommend sitting at the bar to watch the bartenders in action.
The lobby staircase leads to the large conference center, but it also leads to Richard Sandoval's new restaurant, Toro Toro, where a tomahawk chop, finished tableside, can be shared with three for a cool $200. My guests and I were a little shy about the price tag, so we ordered around the menu. A celebration of South American and Texan tastes, it moved from ceviche to a perfect medium-rare steak to mac 'n' cheese with ease. As it is adjacent to the meetings space, it is designed with enough space to host both casual diners and post-breakout-session networkers, who can gather around the bar.
To atone for ordering the extra sides, I sweated it out in an exercise class in the updated, air-conditioned gym. The hotel also has a good-size pool deck. It was swelteringly hot, even for Houston, but a DJ entertained on the weekend as a group of friends (a wedding party, perhaps?) sipped their drinks in the pool.