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Off the beaten path at Alden Houston, a Bayou City boutique hotel

*17 restaurant at Alden Houston
*17 restaurant at Alden Houston
Photo courtesy of Alden Houston

Houston’s downtown area has steadily been perfecting itself over the past twenty years. Amidst visually stunning architecture, remnants of the past remain. There are definitely jewels among those relics, and one of them is the Alden Houston, the newest incarnation of a hotel that first premiered in 1924. With award-winning interiors, this small boutique hotel is slowly gaining prominence, challenging the age-old adage that everything is bigger in Texas.

Modern amenities and extra touches make the Alden's rooms and suites a high-tech home away from home. Each is equipped with flat-screen televisions, portable phones, complimentary high-speed Internet access, ergonomic chairs, DVD players and stereos. Travelers used to spacious rooms may be in for a disappointment. Like many hotels of its kind, Alden Houston has smaller rooms and more intimate interiors. Suites are, in fact, more comparable to standard rooms at larger hotels.

When booking, request a room on one of the highest floors, preferably the tenth, which affords better city views.

Dining and lounging at the Alden is a treat. Small and sleek, the *17 restaurant and A+ bar & grille are the best-kept secrets in a city that loves its trends. The restaurant has received nods on the local and national scale including awards from Esquire Magazine and Texas Monthly. A+ may appear to be typical at first, but it scores high points for atmosphere and beverage selection, not to mention a more casual (and less expensive) dining experience than its upscale brother. Don’t forget to ask the knowledgeable bartenders about the monthly cocktail specials.

Part of the reason for the Alden's lesser-known status is its not-so-desirable location - one of the chief complaints by lay reviewers on sites like TripAdvisor. The area around Prairie and Fannin isn't exactly a local hot spot, but appearances can be deceiving. While the surroundings may look unkempt and unsavory, there is significantly less crime here than in other parts of the city. And while parking is at a premium (expect to pay a $25 hotel valet fee), the Alden offers speedy transportation to downtown locations, including the Theater District. Leave your car parked during your stay and make use of the complimentary car service.

Exact location aside, its amenities, interiors and fine dining make Alden Houston a great choice for more-refined travelers coming to the downtown area for business or pleasure.

Portions of this review were previously published by Bradshaw at WorldGuide AG (used with permission).

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