Houston has an excellent bar and craft cocktail scene, but when you’re traveling, being able to kick back and relax in the comfort of your hotel is key. As it happens, this Texas metropolis is not too shabby in that department either.
From sophisticated American whiskey bars to more classically opulent watering holes, here are five swanky hotel bars to keep in mind for your next visit to the Bayou City.
H Bar at The Post Oak Hotel
With its red banquettes, grey velvet armchairs, dark wood paneling and black-and-white retro-style photos, H Bar at The Post Oak Hotel could easily be mistaken for a classic English club lounge. But step through the doors of this sophisticated spot on any given evening, and you’ll find a scene to rival that of the hottest bars in town.
Upbeat, energetic music reverberates through the space as the crowd (a mix of hotel patrons and after-dinner guests from the many on-property restaurants) finds solace in well-crafted unique sips like the Waltzing Matilda (gin, Cocchi Americano, passionfruit and ginger), an extensive brown spirits list and premium, by-the-glass pours of high-end Napa cabs like Opus One.
When you visit H Bar, you’ll also have the luxury of ordering from any of the glamorous property’s restaurants (including Mastro’s Steakhouse and Willie G’s Seafood), or from the hotel’s vast $3 million, 20,000-label wine cellar overseen by master sommelier Keith Goldston.
Bayou & Bottle at Four Seasons Hotel Houston
When the city’s Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Four Seasons debuted a multi-million dollar renovation in 2017, it unveiled what might just be the swankiest bourbon bar in town. Bayou & Bottle, opened in partnership with celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, features tufted leather couches in rich caramel tones and luxe materials such as Carrara marble, onyx and brass that pay homage to the iconic lobby bars of the Gilded Age — but with an updated aesthetic, of course.
Want to taste some rare, hard-to-find whiskey? Limited edition bottles like WhistlePig’s The Boss Hog Black Prince can be ordered from the bar’s 160-plus-bottle selection, along with custom tasting flights of your choosing.
Signature drinks like the Dr. Pepper Old Fashioned never go out of style and Sandoval’s bar bites menu — ranging from Korean barbecue chicken wings to lobster tacos, with full entrees of Bayou fried chicken or grilled strip steak — offers a plethora of choices when the hunger pangs hit.
Looking for a little extra entertainment? Check out the bar’s Topgolf Swing Suite, the first of its kind in Houston. Available for rent by the hour, the lounge’s two bays can each host up to eight guests at a time and include full bar service, so you can practice your golf swing and never worry about getting thirsty.
Cueva at Marriott Marquis Houston
Cueva might not be as grandiose as its brother Biggio’s (the property’s upscale sports bar), but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in quality. Plush black leather sectionals spread out underneath a glittering crystal chandelier invite you to sit back and relax, whether you order top-shelf sips, like Louis XIII cognac, Clase Azul Ultra tequila or a fruity glass of sangria.
The wine wall in the back of the bar elegantly displays the varietals found on the 200-plus-bottle iPad list, with choices ranging from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa to Man Vintners in Cape Town.
But the showstopper is definitely the bar’s signature Old Fashioned. Made with Russell’s Bourbon, that is barrel-aged for six months in American Oak, the cocktail is infused with mesquite smoke before being delivered to your table underneath a domed glass lid, culminating in an Instagram-worthy reveal.
Bar Malatesta at Hotel Granduca
When you need a break from the lively city scene, retreat to this Tuscan-inspired Four-Star stay and its equally enchanting bar. An homage to the grand European salons of generations past, Bar Malatesta’s soothing russet tones and antique-style furnishings provide a comfortable, upscale setting for an intimate rendezvous over classically Italian drinks — try The Rialto Club for a tart and refreshing combination of gin, limoncello, aperol and lemon .
Stop by Thursday through Saturday evenings to partake in an evening aperitivo (the Northern Italian equivalent of happy hour), during which a complimentary finger food buffet of olives, crostini and other snacks is offered alongside your cocktail. On Thursday nights, the bar also livens up with a rotating calendar of local singers crooning live jazz, while a pianist tickles the ivories each Friday and Saturday.
Milano Bar at Hotel Sorella
A spot for the serious cocktail connoisseur, the Prohibition-style Milano Bar envelops you in its speakeasy atmosphere the minute you enter the attractive, dimly lit space. Here, bartenders sporting black vests and crisp white shirts sling libations crafted with small-batch spirits, house-made bitters, tinctures and fresh fruit juices.
There’s a huge selection of brown spirits — 260, to be exact — from eight different countries, including whisky from Taiwan and Japan and more than 50 varieties of single-malt Scotch. The bar also stocks 30 mezcals and 50 tequilas (many chosen from small-batch, boutique producers) as well as its own barrel-aged bourbon that’s used in its signature Old Fashioned.