Hotel Galvez, Galveston

Hotel Galvez
Photograph by Kenny Braun

Opened in 1911 as a triumphant symbol of Galveston’s rebirth after the devastating 1900 hurricane, the coast’s premier beachfront hotel unveiled an $11 million face-lift last year on the occasion of its hundredth anniversary. So while you’ll find much-needed upgrades throughout, the Queen of the Gulf still radiates the same splendor that made the landmark building the center of Galveston’s social life in its heyday. As you pull into its long driveway, lined with palm trees, it’s easy to see why the Galvez once played host to an endless stream of presidents and celebrities. The creamy stucco building, eight stories tall and topped by a red tile roof, is as inviting as it is grand (keep an eye out for the decorative pineapples, which are a symbol of hospitality). In the bright and spacious lobby, original marble columns topped with restored bronze capitals uphold a beamed mahogany ceiling. Though there’s a richly hued sitting area here—not to mention a striking bar—I found myself gravitating to the two light-filled loggias on either side of the lobby. From my cushioned wicker chair, I could see the Gulf’s waves lapping at the shore just beyond the Galvez’s great lawn and garden. And, lucky me, I had the same view from the recently installed divided-light windows in my room. Though outfitted with new furniture, the 224 guest rooms are surprisingly bland in comparison with the majesty of the Galvez’s common areas. Fortunately, you’ll probably spend most of your time luxuriating in the spa or at the pool. At the former, which is tucked away in the basement, I sipped lavender-infused champagne in the relaxation room and recharged in the meditation garden. At the latter, I stretched out on a lounger underneath a vine-covered pergola and took full advantage of the swim-up bar. On my last evening, after a dinner of seafood gumbo at Bernardo’s (next time, I want to visit on a Sunday to sample the restaurant’s award-winning brunch), I borrowed one of the hotel’s bicycles and went for a cruise along Seawall Boulevard. As I pedaled back, dusk was falling. The four copper octagonal towers that rise from the middle of the hotel’s roofline were lit up, and I couldn’t remember when I’d last seen such a magnificent sight. 2024 Seawall Boulevard, 409-765-7721,  wyndhamhotelgalvez.com

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