Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hotel Havana

San Antonio, Texas, has precious little to recommend it. I've visited a couple of times now, and it's like The Land That Time Forgot. Astonishingly, it's the seventh most heavily populated city in the US, ahead of both Dallas and San Francisco, for example. There are many fine buildings downtown, yet the place is soul-less. It's a place that's ripe for reclamation - maybe someone should give Liz Lambert a few million dollars and put her in charge of things.

Last year, Lambert renovated the Hotel Havana, next to the Fire Department building downtown, and having visited last weekend, I'd have to say that once again, she's created a thing of beauty - a place with oodles of character and charm.

 Hotel Havana follows on the heels of Hotel San Jose (Austin) and St Cecilia (also in's named for the patron saint of music and poetry. More upscale than her other ventures, this one is the hide-out of choice for traveling musicians - wealthy ones). Once again here, she's created a place of elegance, style, and most significantly, individuality.
She also renovated a hotel in Marfa, six hours outside of Austin in the middle of nowhere. She's since sold that place (Thunderbird Hotel), and opened a hip airstream trailer park there instead (El Cosmico).

 Austin, of course, is close to nowhere you'd particularly want to visit. Marfa has an element of charm, but it's a small, artsy town that's not only six hours away, but pretty much closed Sunday through Thursday. I've often wished there were somewhere closer to retreat for a weekend - somewhere to read, write, replenish. Hotel Havana has the exact feel you might wish for...a place to shut the world out, stay inside, have breakfast in bed, work, think, and at night, sip on a Manhattan in the bar buried deep in the basement. A place for a lost - or a found - weekend.

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