Hotel ZaZa, Houston
It may be impossible to say the name with a straight face, but the Hotel ZaZa’s location is seriously good. It lies close to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), the shimmering façade of the Contemporary Arts Museum (CAM), and the spouting jets of Mecom Fountain. Formerly the venerable 1926 Warwick Hotel and reincarnated in 2007, the ZaZa has spacious guest rooms drenched with natural light and sliding glass doors that open onto balconies. And there’s hardly a bad view in the house, whether looking south, over the verdant expanse of Hermann Park and Rice University, or north, toward the downtown skyline. Lively doesn’t begin to describe the restaurant and bar Monarch, with a patio set above the swirl of traffic, where conversation sparkles into the night. As with many boutique hotels, style sometimes trumps service, but management is addressing complaints, and the staff could not be friendlier.