An understated counterpoint to its ravishing neighbor, Hotel Icon, the Alden is an exciting player in Houston's downtown revival. Opened in 2006 and run by the Morgans Hotel Group, the Alden began life as the Sam Houston Hotel in 1917, near what was then the bustling Union-Pacific Station. Now low-slung furniture and warm browns and whites predominate, with James Turell-inspired light installations adding subtle glows of color. It's modern, yes, but it's also easily the most elegant, comfortable hotel lobby in town, where downtown office workers and new loft-dwelling residents gather at the end of the day. The low-key comfort extends to guest rooms, which, with their taupe leather headboards and black granite-walled baths, are splendid without being showy.
Room to Book: Any on the seventh floor or higher with a room number ending in 08 for a spectacular view of the roaring crowds at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.
Tip: Near the theater district, the hotel offers complimentary transportation to shows via Lincoln Navigator.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.