Houston, Texas

Photo: Z Resorts

People have big personalities. (Your best friend is sassy. Your mother-in-law is domineering.) Cities do, too. (New York is a night owl. Rio de Janeiro is flamboyant. Zürich is Type A.)  What about hotels?

Most hotels are quiet and demur. Boutique hotels want to look like they’re part of their communities. Big international chains are trying to hide in plain sight. It’s rare to find a bold hotel that refuses to go unnoticed.

Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District doesn’t want to blend in. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s decorated with huge Baccarat chandeliers, risqué art, strange taxidermy, and zebra-print chairs. And that’s just what you see when you enter the lobby. Photographs of celebrities, clawfoot beds, and color-saturated walls (no basic white here) extend into the rooms. While sculptures dangle from the ceiling of Monarch, the popular restaurant and lounge.

Photo: Z Resorts

Hotel ZaZa isn’t new. It’s been pushing boundaries in Texas’ largest city for more than 20 years. Z Resorts took the old Warwick Hotel, a historic landmark from the 1920s, and gave it a radical makeover. Nothing—not the grand ballroom, not the spa, not the pool—was left untouched. The only thing that remained unchanged was the view. It includes Hermann Park, the Mecom Fountain, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

The hotel is right in the heart of the Museum District, the cultural center of Houston. The leafy neighborhood, south of Downtown Houston, was established in the 1970s. It’s expanded to include 19 museums and more than 100 galleries. Everything is within walking distance.

So after getting your art fix all day, you’re just steps away from your equally exciting hotel. Frozen cocktails by the pool, Have No Mercy deep-tissue massages at the spa, and appetizers on the terrace are awaiting your return. Hotel ZaZa definitely has a big personality. It’s sexy.

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