The Laura Hotel in Downtown Houston is one of the newest luxury properties to open in Houston.
It’s part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection and so it is sure to draw a lot of Marriott loyalists.
But who is Laura and what is she all about?
We stayed at the property about eight months after its opening date and in this article, I’ll break down the experience and tell you everything you need to know about the hotel.
The Laura Hotel Overview
The Laura Hotel is a new luxury property in Downtown Houston that opened in early 2022.
The property is home to 223 guest rooms, a Southern restaurant, rooftop terrace pool, gym, and spa. They also put on pool parties, monthly wine tastings, cigar events, and more.
Formerly the Hotel Alessandra, it’s named after the Laura, which was the first steamboat to arrive in Houston on January 22, 1837.
Built in 1835, they used the Laura to prove that the once impassable Buffalo Bayou was a navigable river. This helped validate Houston’s commercial potential and thus played a major role in its history.
It’s not surprising then that throughout the property you’ll find nautical-inspired branding and even design.
Booking The Laura Hotel
We used a combination of Bonvoy points and a Marriott free night certificate to complete our booking.
Rooms were going for 30,000 points per night and about $400 per night with all the taxes and fees factored in. So I thought this was pretty good value for both the points and the free night certificate.
I applied two suite night awards which both were confirmed as we were bumped up to a corner room.
Unfortunately, I would end up declining the upgrade as I did not feel like the corner rooms were an upgrade to what we already had (more on that later).
Location: Downtown Houston
The Laura Hotel is located in the middle of Downtown Houston. It’s directly off Dallas and Main Street where the METRORail light rail runs through the heart of downtown.
It’s safe to walk around this area during the daytime but just a heads up walking around Downtown will expose you to a fair share of homeless people.
I used to live only a few blocks down from here and you get used to it but some visitors get uncomfortable when approached by people on the streets, especially if they appear drugged up.
The building is connected to the Downtown Greenstreet, a mixed-use area near a lot of restaurants and bars, including the House of Blues.
It’s within walking distance (5 to 15 min) to the big Houston venues like Minute Maid Park, the Toyota Center, and George R Brown Convention Center but you can find many hotels closer.
There are parking garages nearby but you can also valet.
Valet is $46 per night though which I thought was on the higher side for Houston.
- Westin Downtown Houston
- Hilton Americas-Houston Review
- JW Marriott Houston Galleria
- Review: The Marriott Marquis in Downtown Houston
- Hyatt Regency Houston
- St. Regis Houston Review
Check-in: Great service with a minor hiccup
You’ll enter the hotel on the first level and you’ll need to either take the elevator or the gold-accented grand staircase to get to where check-in is located on the second floor.
It’s kind of an odd set up but visually I thought it was a beautiful entryway lobby. The marble really does it for me.
While many will opt for the elevator, it was nice getting a little bit of work out when utilizing these fancy stairs.
Up on the second floor is where you can find the check in desk, restaurant, bar/café, and different types of lounge seating areas.
The bar area is pretty cool with some open lounge seating and floor to ceiling windows that wrap around the building.
It functions as the espresso bar from 6:30 AM to 1:30 PM on most days of the week. Then it transitions to the Laura Bar which is open from 3PM to midnight on most days and 1AM on the weekends.
They also serve food here starting at 4 PM.
The check-in desk is in a pretty beautiful area of the lobby.
Initially, we were able to get early check in but there was a little problem.
The agent checked us into a different type of room than what we were upgraded to via our suite certificates.
Basically, they upgraded us to a deluxe room instead of utilizing the suite night upgrade that would have placed us in a corner room.
They did this because a high-floor corner room was not available since we were arriving a little early.
Normally, I think in this situation the staff should first confirm that you want to give up your upgrade for early check-in.
But they didn’t do that so we unknowingly ended up in a Deluxe Room that was not a corner room and I phoned down to see what was going on.
They explained that they had just put us in a Deluxe Room because of our early check in and I voiced that I would prefer the corner room instead.
So we made our way down to the elevator into the corner room only to be disappointed by that room (for reasons I go into below).
Because of that, they ended up moving us back to the Deluxe Room and I was able to get my suite night awards refunded (after calling in).
Throughout all of the back-and-forth the staff was very gracious so I appreciated them working with us so that we could truly be happy with our stay.
The room on the 16th floor
Our room was on the 16th floor and we had a pretty great view, although it did not face any of the iconic skyscrapers in the city.
As for the bed, it was very comfortable.
The nightstands by the bed had both power outlets and USB ports.
They also provided branded stationary.
I love hotels with their own identity and branding and so it was cool to see that done very nicely here.
However, they still need to work on the finishing touches.
For example, look at the pen that was in our room when we arrived. It’s all smeared with ink and that’s not the attention to detail that you expect to find at an expensive luxury hotel.
Next to the bed is a little curved couch and a table so you can enjoy room service while admiring your view. I love easy to access window views and so I really appreciated the layout of this room.
In the middle of the room you have a large flatscreen TV with your workstation directly under it.
I’ve never been a huge fan of desks under TVs like that because if one person wants to watch TV and the other person wants to get work done, it’s not a very practical set up.
They have two closets on other side of the TV and workstation.
One side is the true closet where you’ll find hangers.
The other side is made for your luggage and has the iron board.
There’s a coffee maker station and they provide you with a couple of coffee cups and a free bottle of water.
I did notice that the drawers and the mini fridge were completely empty and they had no teas available.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I stayed at a quality hotel that didn’t have tea available in the room.
I would’ve expected these to be filled eight months after opening but I guess they are still in somewhat of a soft launch stage.
The hotel really knows what they’re doing when it comes to the bathrooms.
We had a nice and open bathroom with a soaking tub, large mirror, plenty of counter space, and a private toilet space.
Doors swing open if you’d like to soak in the tub with a view.
Or, if you’d like some privacy you can close things up.
The other side of the partition is made up gold-framed mirrored walls.
Here’s a closer look at the sink.
The shower is pretty spacious and complete with a waterfall showerhead as well as a detachable showerhead. Be prepared for a heavy showerhead, though.
Using this thing is like trying to bathe with Thor’s Hammer.
I liked that they had a private toilet area, since I’m never a big fan of the bathrooms that have everything opened up.
As I mentioned above we were initially upgraded to a corner room and the only one available was one on a lower floor.
So we checked out that room but just did not really care for it to be honest.
Although technically it has more square feet, it actually felt more confining due to the L-shaped layout.
It also did not have a soaking tub.
Plus our view on the 16th floor was way better so we ended up asking to get moved back to our original room.
I have to give the staff a lot of credit because they put up with us being very high maintenance for a little while and did so without any complaints.
Here’s a look at the corner room that we refused:
Dining: Hull and Oak Southern cookin’
The hotel is home to a restaurant called Hull and Oak that puts “innovative twists” on classic Southern dishes and regularly mixes up their menu.
I love the idea of a Southern-themed restaurant and I thought the nautical aesthetics of the venue were very original.
Framed archways resemble a ship’s hull and circular mirrors line the restaurant like ship portholes.
It was just a cool place to dine and meet up with an old friend.
Servers were a little understaffed but they were extremely friendly and professional.
We arrived around 6:30 PM for dinner and were the only ones in the restaurant.
It stayed slow for a while and then started to pick up around 7:30 PM but never got very busy.
Perhaps this restaurant is still not on the radar a many?
For dinner we tried the macaroni and cheese, steak, and deviled eggs.
The deviled eggs offered a slightly sweet take on deviled eggs balanced out with bacon and mouth-tingling chili peppers that were not playing around. I ate ’em up.
Brad went with the prime Manhattan filet.
It came pre-cut and cooked to perfection. Lightly salted wedge potatoes made a nice complement. As did the cooked carrots.
The crawfish macaroni and cheese was pretty good but a little light on flavor.
Brad tried out one of their signature drinks: a Oaxaca Old Fashioned. Both smoky and woody, it offered a bold flavor with a little bit of sweetness.
Next we’ll have to try Smokin’ in the 713, which is a southern take on the Old Fashioned.
For dessert, we tried the banana foster.
This was not usually something I would ever order, but I was really glad we tried this spongy and powdery delicacy because this platter was crazy delicious.
Each day, we decided to utilize our free breakfast benefit (which gave us each $24 of credit every morning) and I have to say that the breakfast here was solid.
One morning, I went with the biscuits and gravy which was a little different because I’m not used to chicken broth-based gravy on biscuits.
(I’m much more of a sausage gravy person.)
However, the gravy biscuit was delicious and their bacon was a thing of beauty. Just the right amount of crispiness.
The next morning I went with the peaches and cream waffles. Wasn’t quite in love with the peaches but I enjoyed trying something different for a change.
The hotel houses a nice rooftop terrace pool on the 5th floor. It’s a bit small but for a downtown hotel in the central business district I wouldn’t exactly expect a lagoon-sized pool.
On some evenings, they have parties up here so it could be a cool vibe.
The pool seems to be pretty popular as every time I look down from my room I could see quite a few people lounging around. (I took all my pictures right at 8 AM before the crowds hit.)
It opens up at 8 AM and closes down at 8 PM.
There’s also a bar out here that opens up at 11 AM and closes at 7:30 PM.
They have quite a few pool chairs set out and some of them are shaded which is great because that Houston summer sun can be serious.
In the gym, you’ll find modern cardio equipment like a few treadmills, ellipticals, and other machines. They also have several machines like a leg press, rowing station, etc.
Overall, the hotel gym is a bit small given the size of the property.
You might want to get down there a little bit early if you’re planning on getting in an uninterrupted morning workout.
They have a small pyramid of free-weight dumbbells but the weights do not go up very high.
The property also is home to a spa on the 5th floor but we did not get a chance to review it.
Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the Laura Hotel.
I thought the room was well done with some pretty good views and an awesome bathroom. The dining did not disappoint and other facilities like the pool and gym looked pretty good.
I think they could do some of the little things better but I’ll give them a bit more time since they are still a relatively new property.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.