Inside Houston Hotels: Hotel Alessandra in Downtown Houston
Ferris Bueller said it best. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” “Me time” is important and Hotel Alessandra, located on 1070 Dallas, is a great place to get it. The hotel opened in late 2017 and is operated by the Valencia Group, which also runs Hotel Sorella in CityCentre. Hotel Alessandra is 20 floors and 223 rooms of luxury and prestige that rocks an old-school vibe while outfitted with 21st Century amenities.
A typical room offers great views of downtown thanks to floor to ceiling windows. For some peaceful R&R time, there is also an L-shaped couch and coffee table stocked with local magazines. The king-sized bed is flanked by two nightstands with built-in electrical, as well as USB sockets and a study desk below a flat-screen TV. Adjacent to that is a fully equipped mini-bar with small bottles of moderately priced spirits, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. However, if you’re splurging you’re better off heading down to Bardot, the cocktail bar on the second floor.
White tiles, a ceramic bathtub and a partitioned commode lends the bathroom an old-world vibe. The shower, though, is nicely equipped with a modern, rectangular, overhead sprayer.
For cocktails, beer and spirits, guests can belly-up to Bardot, a cozy, and intimate spot with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Dallas and Fannin. The bar itself is small but there’s a sizable lounge nearby. It’s a comfy setting for imbibing and gleefully escaping the trudging downtown traffic below. Cocktails are a mix of the classical variety — such as the French 75 and Bellini — and modern takes including Moët Glamour, which, interestingly, was the official cocktail of the 2010 Academy Awards. It’s made with Chandon, passionfruit juice and vanilla liqueur. There’s also a Mezcal Mule, with all the ingredients of a mule but with mezcal; Qui Vivra Verra (which is French for “time will tell”) with Knob Creek bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup egg white and pinch of salt. The namesake cocktail, Alessandra, is a sweet-and-tangy concoction of Absolut Mandrin vodka, Cointreau with cranberry and lime with an orange twist.
Along with the drinks, Bar Bardot offers small bites, including hummus, shrimp cocktail, tuna tartare and a Houston Dairymaid’s cheese plate with three selections accompanied by fruit and Lavash bread. More substantial fare is down the hallway at full-fledged restaurant Lucienne, but Bar Bardot makes for a choice “aperitif” either prior to visiting or for when nothing more than a beautiful cocktail and light snack is required.
Lucienne also offers a themed mixology class on weekends. Check out our full article on what that experience is like.
Hotel Alessandra’s executive chef, Jose Hernandez, started his culinary journey at the young age of 14 as an assistant in a pastry kitchen. He’s worked numerous positions throughout renowned restaurants in Mexico, Manhattan, and Houston. Locally, he worked at La Balance, Triniti (where he received recognition for his work as a pastry chef) and Philippe Restaurant + Lounge before taking the executive chef job at Radio Milano, Valencia Group’s other Houston hotel. He was slated for the Hotel Alessandra early on as it prepared to open. Hernandez not only runs Lucienne but also creates dishes and oversees the food operations for Bardot, room service, meetings and events.
A good introduction to the offerings is through the five-course tasting menu. Hernandez changes Lucienne’s dinner menu seasonally, so what’s described here are examples of warm-weather dishes.
The first course was frog legs with a sweet Teriyaki glaze and sesame seed purée. The meat was tender and crisp; otherwise, as the joke goes, “it tastes like chicken.” It was followed up with glazed pork belly sitting atop a bed of esquites and topped with a radish-cilantro salad. The pork belly was delectable with equal amounts of crispiness and fattiness. The corn and cilantro salad added color and variety to the dish with an accompanying crisp.
The third course was smoked octopus accompanied by potato gnocchi, spinach and Parmesan cheese. The presentation is stunning, as it arrives in a glass enclosure. When the dome is lifted, it releases a tantalizing mesquite smell sending your olfactory into a frenzy. The octopus is smoked and seasoned to perfection, and while it is tender, a bit of pleasing chewiness remains.
Lucienne sources New York strip steak from beef suppliers Dean & Peeler. It’s served carefully cut into three hearty strips and with Bearnaise sauce, grilled squash, carrot and asparagus. Cooked to perfection, the steak was juicy and tender with the veggies complimenting the overall dish.
Out of four choices, the selected dessert was Strawberry Melba with rose water marshmallow, heirloom strawberries and almonds. It was rich, creamy, and sweet with an added crunch.
Although Hotel Alessandra amenities hardly make it necessary to go anywhere else, it is temptingly positioned between downtown and midtown. Walk a few blocks down to experience Mike Raymond’s famed whiskey mecca, Reserve 101, or kick back a few shots at brothers Shaun and Steve Sharma’s Dirt Bar. (The Sharmas also own El Big Bad, a tequila bar and Mexican restaurant that’s also downtown.) “Party Central” primarily stretches down Main Street from Texas Street to Congress, and a just a few of the can’t-miss bars include One Armed Scissor, Bad News Bar and The Pastry War. For a very classy cocktail experience, make a reservation in advance for Tongue-Cut Sparrow upstairs and for other libations, Public Services Wine & Whisky is the place to be. (See also Best New Houston Bars of 2018 and Best Houston Happy Hours: Downtown for additional information.)
The morning after a night of downtown bar hopping is best spent sleeping in and then recharging with Lucienne’s brunch menu, which is available Saturday and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It offers just about anything a guest would want to start the day with, including crepes, omelets and salads. We went with lighter fare: Bibb romaine Caesar salad with crunchy croutons, a soft egg and white anchovy.
With that being said, for a bigger appetite, the Crepes Alessandra is a perfect brunch choice. It comes out of the kitchen piping hot and every cut releases melted provolone. A side salad of heirloom tomatoes adds a pop of color.
For those either visiting Houston or residents seeking a blissful staycation, Hotel Alessandra is an excellent choice. Guests who want to enjoy the city’s nightlife are excellently positioned at the epicenter of entertainment and fun. Those who want to stay in for rest and relaxation are going to highly value Hernandez’s exceptional dining program as well as Bar Bardot. Either way, it’s an experience they won’t soon forget.
Disclosure: For evaluation purposes, the author received one night of accommodation at the hotel as well as the food and drink amenities described in this article.