During a windy snowstorm in March, my husband and I took four cars, one bus, two planes, and a grand total of 15 hours to travel from NYC to Houston, Texas, for a weekend being hosted by the Marriott Marquis. This, of course, was not the original plan.
We should have arrived at 3 p.m., but we arrived at midnight — thankfully, welcomed by a gorgeous room and a tray of snacks that would put standard mini-bar fare to shame: a mound of fresh berries, artisanal jerky, and chocolate-covered popcorn.
So now you see why we literally weathered one of the worst and most stressful travel experiences of our lives: food. That, and an unshakably determined and resilient spirit shared between us. But more importantly, food.
As it turned out, we were the only people from the U.S. to actually press on, joining another lovely journalist from Canada. We spent the entire weekend — which aside from a trip to the aquarium instead of NASA because #adulting — in the hotel, and it wasn’t hard to do, even though it was too chilly for us to take advantage of the infinity pool or the giant lazy river (shaped like the state of Texas, of course).
Biggio’s, the namesake of Houston Astros legend Craig Biggio, pays homage to the Hall of Famer as the largest restaurant and sports bar in the city. Menu staples include “big dogs” (hot dogs) and “handhelds” (burgers and sandwiches) along with street tacos, flatbreads, and of course, soft pretzels. For spring, you’ll see some new, heartier salads and sandwiches, along with fish and brisket tacos. With the floor-to-ceiling glass windows making us completely visible at street level, it was hard to tell if people were gawking at the giant 30-foot TV screens or the fried chicken and waffles with sriracha drizzle. Let’s just assume it was both.
Walker Street Kitchen treated us to an insane brunch in a gorgeous room accented with my favorite colors, mint green and gold. The sheer amount of beautifully presented food could keep you full for days — thick slabs of bacon, Crunch Berry French toast with triple berry compote and hazelnut cream; chorizo baked eggs with salsa, smoked beef brisket with chiles... and the list goes on. A new seasonal menu includes boudin corn fritters with local honey, roasted squash with smoked almonds, arugula, and parmesan; tofu bahn mi; gumbo; chicken fried chicken; and roasted cauliflower steak.
Texas T is a stop-off in the lobby, allowed you to take pastries, coffee, and tea to go or enjoy it in a giant lounge chair. The pastry chef who is a big fan of glitter, so if you want to bedazzle your lips waith a cake pop, get ready to live the dream. They also make a mean breakfast sandwich.
Room service was pretty awesome—everything arrived in boxes. What do you do when you’ve got a generational gap between the people who want to just have a quick bite in the room and an older crowd that wants it to be wheeled in on a tablecloth? You go with the former. The quick-serve program, which comes with a $5 delivery charge, gets you anything from a box of coffee and oatmeal to a tuna nicoise salad. Always delivered within 20 minutes, we definitely prefer it this way. Truly, boxed are just fine when you’ve got a view overlooking the entire city of Houston, you’re not looking down at a tablecloth anyway. You’re in the freaking sky, looking up and out.
The spa? But Helaina, you can’t eat a spa! I know, but, when you have a spa experience like the one at Pure, you have to mention it in a travel story. Unfortunately, as with more of my time than not, my chronic migraines followed me on this trip. I was less than spunky and had spent about 15 hours on planes and in airports, so my skin was in desperate need of some TLC at the hands of the best, which it got. The effects lasted for days after, so I sported the best souvenir of all, a dewy glow to get me through during the gross winter weather back in NYC. As the hotel restaurant renaissance continues, we expect to see more hotels to focus on their dining options.