It’s been a long, hard road for Texans in the last year. First, the pandemic. Then our recent deep freeze. We’ve been locked down for so long now that any escape would feel like a Thelma & Louise moment of freedom.
But escaping is difficult, with most countries and even some states instituting travel restrictions or outright bans. That leaves us with Texas, which is not a bad thing.
And you know what’s even better? Our city, Houston, has areas I can guarantee you haven’t explored, just 30 short minutes away. That drive can change your surroundings, and along with it, your entire attitude. I saw it in myself, and I’d love to share it with you.
On my birthday this year, my husband surprised me with a weekend at the Marriott Marquis, hotel king of the Discovery Green landscape and home of the infamous Texas-shaped rooftop pool. I’d been to Discovery Green a couple times for Flea at Night and to cheer on a friend running the Houston Marathon, but I’d never really explored the area through the eyes of a tourist. I was truly delighted to stumble upon fine and casual dining just a stroll away from the Marquis doors, and we took advantage of both. More on that later. First, the hotel.
If you’ve never been, the Marquis is a hotel that is luxurious without being ostentatious. Despite the grandeur of its expansive lobby and its exquisite skyline views in all directions, the Marquis captures the down-to-Earth Houstonian aesthetic and bottles it in a shiny building that towers over the Convention Center. Since this is a staycation, I highly recommend splurging on a top-floor room for the ultimate in views, both day and night. Just remind yourself of all the money you saved on airfare and gas and put it towards your room. You won’t regret it.
Once you’ve checked in, waste no time checking in to the pool. It’s where everyone goes to see and be seen, and the views are…eclectic. Let’s just say you’ll enjoy the action on the rooftop just as much as you’ll enjoy being on top of the city, looking down at the street from your perch at the edge of the infinity pool. If you prefer some alone time, you’ll find lounge chairs and cabanas tucked away in cozy corners, encouraging those who want it to savor some peace and quiet. Food and drinks are available rooftop so you never have to step inside for either. And yes, the Texas pool is as cool as everyone says it is. By night, it is lit up in bright blue, and by day, its lazy river is filled with a mix of families and couples.
After a day in the sun, rejuvenate in your room and head out for dinner. Your options are plentiful. We dined at Potente on Texas Avenue and found it nothing short of spectacular. The service was en pointe, the food was delicious, the drinks were artisanal, and being able to stroll there and back was a nice change from the driving we Texans are known to do.
The next morning, after some peaceful slumber in the Marquis’ ultra-comfy beds, we had a lovely time exploring the Phoenician, just across the Green. The interestingly stocked grocery store at the base of the high rise apartment building is the trifecta of Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and your favorite deli, all in one space. You can buy anything there, including foods you’ve never heard of. You can also eat a great breakfast there on the cheap or grab some take-home items as a culinary reminder of your stay.
Also on the first floor of One Park Place, you will find a lovely French restaurant with an Old World vibe: Brasserie du Parc. The prices are ridiculously reasonable given your view of the Green, and the crepes are, of course, delicious. It’s an excellent way to enjoy Sunday Brunch and to bid adieu to your Houston getaway.
Downtown may not be far away, but it really, truly feels like a much-needed escape. I came back happy and rejuvenated, which is saying something in these times. Take a day or two for yourself and enjoy a part of Houston you haven’t explored before. It really will make everything better.