The Galleria is more than just the shopping mall anchored at the corner of Post Oak Boulevard and Westheimer. The Galleria area is home to a bustling business district, Williams Tower, the tallest building outside of Downtown Houston, and the nearby tony neighborhood of Tanglewood and childhood home of ZZ Top guitarist, Billy Gibbons. Always expanding, with more ritzy retail and restaurant options in every direction, it’s no surprise that the Galleria area also goes by the name Uptown.
Where to Stay: Post Oak Hotel
Hiding in plain sight from Houston’s 610 Loop is the Post Oak Hotel – Tillman Fertitta’s take on luxury lodging. Fertitta, the legendary local boy makes good via his restaurant and hospitality empire, opened the Post Oak Hotel in March of this year. A few months later, the hotel received the AAA five-diamond rating – the only Houston hotel with that title. And diamonds do come to mind when you enter the hotel and look up to view 16,000 hand-strung Swarovski crystals floating above. The lobby’s chandelier, inspired by the sparkly stunner found in the Dubai Opera House, typifies the thoughtful extravagance found throughout the hotel where everyday objects, like a light fixture, become extraordinary.
There’s nothing standard-issue in this hotel whether it’s the artwork represented by Frank Stella, Alex Katz, and Howard Hodgkin, an on-site Rolls Royce showroom, voluminous vases of fresh flowers, or the designer drain found in every shower.
Trip Chandler Trivia: Luxe drain creator, Designer Drains, was featured on the season premiere of Billion Dollar Buyer, also starring Fertitta who gave the company business tips along with a big sale – $90,000 for 275 drains.
Nor is the restaurant scene an afterthought at the Post Oak Hotel. Highlights include Mastro’s Steakhouse which pairs double cut porterhouses with people watching. The clubby H Bar offers cocktails, bar bites, and vintage photos of Fertitta’s family plus classic snapshots of Houston and Galveston landmarks. Bloom and Bee boasts artwork by female artists based in Houston with floor-to-ceiling views of champagne. For an elegant sugar rush, Bouchée Patisserie serves pastries, gelato, and chocolates.
Trip Chandler Tip: Be sure to stop in Bouchée during the holidays for seasonal sweets and delightful décor.
Where to Explore, Shop & Eat
The Galleria: The eponymous shopping center opened in 1970 with design inspiration from Milan’s Galleria Vittorio, the world’s first mall circa 1865. Department store stalwarts, Marshall Field and Lord & Taylor, have left the building but Texas-born Neiman Marcus remains. More than 24 million visitors head to the Galleria for retail therapy – from the newly refreshed Gucci boutique to The Webster’s fashion-forward offerings for men and women. While you can still score a slice from Sbarro after a few rounds on the Galleria’s ice rink, foodies make reservations for gourmet imports like Nobu, Yauatcha, and Fig and Olive. Take a short walk across the street for hand-crafted chocolates from Cacao and Cardamom and happy hour specials at Moxie’s.
Trip Chandler Tip: Find your moment of zen and fill your Instagram feed in front of the cascade of water and mist known as Houston’s Waterwall in Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. The 64-foot tall structure, made of brick, limestone, and granite, recirculates 11,000 gallons of water per minute as it flows down the fountain’s inner and outer walls. Address: 2800 Post Oak Boulevard.
Uptown Park: You’ll find Uptown Park tucked away behind high-rise office space and high-end condos. The pedestrian-friendly shopping center is in the midst of a makeover while continuing to welcome new tenants like Arizona’s Flower Child, the perky eatery that’s heavy on greens and grains with a line out the door. For dessert, visit local favorites, Crave Cupcakes and Araya Chocolates, whose confections are included in the Post Oak Hotel mini-bar offerings. Date nights are de rigueur at Etoile for French cuisine while the Tasting Room has plenty of space for wine lovers to gather.
Watch this space: Inventive sushi spot, Uptown Sushi, is undergoing renovations with plans to reopen in January of 2019. In addition, Williams Sonoma is launching Rejuvenation – their foray into interior design ranging from light fixtures to furniture.
BLVD Place: BLVD Place’s newest addition, the Rooftop Cinema Club, made its big screen premiere in October and it’s a hit. Be sure to book now for future al fresco screenings which include baby boomer classic, The Big Chill, and the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. For dining, Café Annie, helmed by Houston’s first James Beard winner, Robert Del Grande, serves up Southwest fare like bacon wrapped quail. Fans of healthy living guru, Dr. Andrew Weil, head to True Food Kitchen. There’s also a Whole Foods for making groceries or imbibing at their in-store brewery. Houston handbag designer, Elaine Turner, has an outpost here featuring apparel and accessories. Get on the gallery circuit at Laura Rathe Fine Art which hosts contemporary art exhibitions in a variety of mediums. Pamper yourself sans pollutants at Paloma, Houston’s first non-toxic nail salon.
Watch this space: The Original Ninfa’s, the East End Tex-Mex flagship, is scheduled for a 2019 spring opening for their Uptown location in BLVD Place.
Feature Photo Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment.