Far from dueling piano bars, tequila shooters, and Sea World, an elegant new scene is forming along the area known as San Antonio’s “North River Walk.” The brand-new Thompson San Antonio (one of the latest in the Thompson’s Texas expansion) rises across the river from the Tobin Center of the Performing Arts and offers pleasures for the body and soul. Writer Amanda Eyre Ward names her top 10 favorite things about her visit to the newest luxury hotel in charming Alamo City.
1. Cool, Sparkling Water
It might not seem thrilling, but after a day exploring the outdoor art spaces around the Thompson, my 17-year-old son and I couldn’t have been more excited to each receive our own water bottle that could be refilled with cold still or sparkling water at many “hydration stations” around the hotel. I appreciated the lessening of environmental impact and the ice-cold drink.
2. The “Whoa” Lobby
My son said, “Whoa” as we entered the Thompson’s jaw-dropping lobby. We took in the black granite, rusted Corten steel, natural wood walls, and floating staircase — its vertical handrails wrapped in hand-stitched leather. Brass lighting fixtures and the welcome buzz of buzzed guests made the ambiance both welcoming and magnificent.
3. One Special, Poolside Nook
The fourth-floor pool deck is so glam, I expected Beyoncé to wander past the bar at any moment. (Though perhaps she was ensconced in one of the private, luxury cabanas hidden along the 2000-square-foot pool.) One seating area was especially magical, jutting out from the hotel edge. Cozy on my modern wingback chair, I could see the sparkling city and the Tobin, where upcoming acts include Snoop Dogg and chef Alton Brown. (Not at the same time. . . though wouldn’t that be amazing?)
4. Grilled BBQ Oysters with Persillade Toast at Landrace
We enjoyed dinner at Landrace, one of the Thompson’s two new restaurants. (Landrace is helmed by Steve McHugh of Cured at The Pearl.) Our oysters came to the table in flames, lighting up the astonished grins of my son and our friends. Even once the fire was out, the delectable oysters were briny, oaky, and divine.
5. Slow Cooked Bison Short Rib with Raclette Grits and Dinosaur Kale
Another stunner from our meal at Landrace, this entrée was too much food for even my cross-country-running teenager. He brought leftovers up to our room. . . and ate them as a midnight snack.
6. A Server Who Knows Their Stuff
We knew we were in good hands all evening with Jeffrey Spahn, an expert server and knowledgeable guide through Landrace’s tempting menu. Spahn was also able to explain what “Landrace” means (foods that can be traced back to the land where they have been naturally shepherded over time) while gamely pretending he hadn’t been asked this question a hundred times before.
7. The Ultimate Bubble Bath
I can be a bit persnickety when it comes to my evening soak — and by persnickety I mean I cannot do without it. Our first room at the Thompson was just lovely but had only a shower. Luckily, the front desk moved us swiftly to a room with the tub of my dreams: a giant, freestanding work of art that I immediately began filling with fragrant bubbles from the D.S. & Durga bath products in our room.
While my son cued up Forensic Files and scrolled TikTok on his phone in the adjoining living area, I pulled shut the curtain that separated the bath and sank into heaven. It’s a good thing the Thompson has residences because I can’t stop thinking about that tub and may have to move to San Antonio to be reunited.
8. Does Mom Look Hip in This?
My son and I both got cozy in the hotel robes, which were unlike any I’ve ever seen: heather-gray colored with drawstring hoods and a zipper. When paired with the hotel’s black, fuzzy slippers — not your usual slipper but boasting a thong like a flip flop! — I was so sure I looked young and wild that I texted my husband a hipster selfie. He agreed I was ready to head to the Beyoncé poolside cabanas, but instead I made my son watch House Hunters Aruba in our room until he fell asleep and the couple chose the giant house far from the beach but with a garden.
9. Breakfast with Diana Deleon
We headed back to Landrace in the morning and sat outside, gazing at the water. Our wonderful waitress, Diana Deleon, is a San Antonio native and gave us many tips for enjoying her city. She also told us that the Avocado Toast with citrus, radish, and a poached egg was a winner. . . and she was right.
10. Adventures for Next Time
As I sipped the coffee Diana had poured, I spotted a group donning life vests and preparing to kayak the River Walk. My son and I agreed: We would be back to San Antonio to kayak, eat, and keep exploring. I reluctantly left my hipster hoodie bathrobe behind, but I packed the free slippers and wear them when I want to be reminded of my superstar days.