Hotel Zaza, Houston

Hotel Zaza
Photograph by Kenny Braun

Every square inch of this 315-room hotel in the Museum District exudes the look-at-me personality of a Kardashian sister. Formerly the famed Warwick Hotel (which opened in the twenties), the twelve-story building was transformed into the glitzy ZaZa in 2007 (a sister property of the same name opened in Dallas in 2002). To be perfectly up front, it took me a little time to warm to the hotel’s overt (some might say obnoxious) over-the-top-ness. The lobby, for example, is decked out with massive crystal chandeliers, wall-size mirrors, and a long, koi-filled pool. You may do a double take when you see the Daliesque upholstery on the chairs near the grand piano: Is that a bulldog wearing a business suit? The outdoor pool, which is ringed with direct-access villas, evokes the sophisticated glamour of Beverly Hills with its black-and-white-striped loungers, well-manicured shrubbery, and private cabanas (each has a small chandelier and a flat-screen TV). The cozy ZaSpa offers “Botox-like” facials and detoxifying “morning after” scrubs. And did I mention the constant celebrity sightings? Dozens of framed portraits of A-listers—everyone from Prince to Pee-wee Herman—grace nearly every wall. In my king suite, a black and white photograph of a pensive-looking Marilyn Monroe hovered over a reading chair. In the bathroom was a photograph of an orangutan who also appeared to be contemplating the meaning of life. While my room didn’t lack for whimsy (the bed had golden claw feet, and turndown service included a package of Mike and Ike candy), it was positively ho-hum compared with the ZaZa’s seventeen “Magnificent” and “Concept” suites, like the 1,035-square-foot space-travel-themed Houston We Have a Problem, which has an astronaut suit in one corner, and the 2,016-square-foot Tycoon, which has a soaking tub on its terrace. Downstairs at Monarch, the ZaZa’s see-and-be-seen bistro (its patio has a nice view of the local landmark Mecom Fountain), I nibbled on a deconstructed ahi tuna roll and then destroyed a gingery, wasabi-slathered beef tenderloin while surveying the stylish crowd. When the waitress came by again, I asked her about the pink concoctions everyone seemed to be drinking. “Oh, that’s our Big Flirt martini,” she said. I ordered one on the spot.  5701 Main, 713-526-1991,  hotel​zaza.com/#houston 

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