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9 Texas hotels and resorts with surprising amenities

Experience the ultimate in glamping at Walden Retreats Hill Country in Johnson City. Photo by Will Graham Photography

If you’ve stayed in many hotels and motels around the Lone Star State, you’ve probably had your fair share of Texas-shaped waffles at free continental breakfasts. But these days, some Texas hotels and resorts are going way beyond basic breakfasts and offering unique, unusual—and often Instagrammable—amenities and services. Here are 9 Texas lodgings with unusual amenities that are worth checking out by, well, checking in.

1. Get room service from a robot

At Aloft Dallas Love Field, hotel guests can order front desk items to be delivered by Botlr, a bow tie–wearing robotic butler who can shuttle various items, such as hand towels, drinks, or snacks. Guests receive a call when Botlr arrives, and the robot is programmed to deliver the goods when guests open their hotel door. Instead of a tip, just leave the robot a review on its touch screen—it might do a little celebratory jig (no joke). Rates start at $247.

2. Dial M for margarita

Bartender mixing up a margarita

With a touch of a button, a Margarita Cart and bartender will arrive at guest rooms at Four Seasons Hotel Austin. Photo courtesy Four Seasons Hotel Austin

At the AAA Four Diamond Four Seasons Hotel Austin, you can order a margarita from your room phone. Simply press the margarita button (yes, it’s an actual button, between “wake-up call” and “emergency”), and a bartender with a tequila-stocked cart will materialize within minutes, ready to handcraft a shaken or blended marg to your exact specs.

Consider a classic with Don Julio Silver, Cointreau, lime juice, and agave or a Passion Fruit Party with Patrón Silver, Cointreau, Liquid Alchemist, passion fruit, and lime juice. The Margarita Cart is available daily from 3 to 6 p.m. Room rates start at $1,000.

3. Cement your superfan status

Entrance to the Charlotte Jones Collection boutique

Shop for Dallas Cowboys–themed items at Omni Frisco Hotel's Charlotte Jones Collection boutique in Frisco. Photo courtesy Omni Frisco Hotel

Stay at the AAA Four Diamond Omni Frisco Hotel, and you just might bump into your favorite Cowboy. The hotel is attached via a walkway (access required) to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility and was created in collaboration with team owner Jerry Jones. On occasion, cheerleaders might work out at Cowboys Fit, the team-branded fitness center that guests can use with the purchase of a day pass.

Throughout the property, you’ll see nods to all things Cowboys. Don’t miss the Charlotte Jones Collection boutique, where, among other things, you’ll find a custom Cowboys Swarovski crystal-encrusted kids’ motorized truck. Rates start at $230.

4. Enjoy breathtaking art

A visitor observing pieces of the Berlin Wall displayed at the Hilton Anatole

Pieces of the Berlin Wall are on display at the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas. Photo by Marty Perlman Photographer/Crow Collection and Hilton Anatole Hotel

In Dallas, the AAA Four Diamond Hilton Anatole is part hotel, part art museum. In fact, the property says it has one of the largest collections of art and antiques of any North American hotel. Among the most photographed highlights: 2 sections of the Berlin Wall. Rates start at $229.

5. Prepare for liftoff

At AAA Four Diamond Hotel ZaZa in Houston’s Museum District, you can reserve one of 10 “concept suites,” each with a unique theme. Guests share the living space in the “Houston, We Have a Problem” Suite with a life-size NASA space suit prop and other space-themed decor, such as lava lamps and framed photos of space missions. Rates start at $309; the “Houston, We Have a Problem” Suite starts at $1,017.

6. Sleep under the stars

A couple enjoying the view from the deck of their luxury tent at Walden Retreats

The safari-style luxury tents at Johnson City's Walden Retreat are perched on wraparound decks that overlooks Walden’s 96-acre grounds. Photo by Will Graham Photography

The words of naturalist Henry David Thoreau greet visitors at the entrance of Johnson City’s new luxury encampment Walden Retreats (sharing its name with his famous book), setting the tone for a stay steeped in reverence of nature: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.”

Once inside Walden’s 96-acre grounds, you stand a good chance of being greeted by resident wildlife (we spotted deer, hawks, snakes, lizards, armadillos, and our all-time favorite Texas bird: the painted bunting) as you cohabitate with them from within the plush confines of 1 of 15 fully enclosed safari-style canvas tents.

Tents are outfitted with air-conditioning, full kitchens, bathrooms with bathtubs, and comfortable bedding. Enjoy hiking trails to the Pedernales River, Texas wine and treats from the on-site store, and stargazing. Not to be missed: morning coffee on the wraparound deck and private outdoor showers that feel decadent after a contemplative hike. Rates start at $175.

7. Arrive in style in a private jet

The AAA Four Diamond Horseshoe Bay Resort offers the ultimate in arrival luxury, with its partnership with Wheels Up. The private jet service transports guests staying at the resort on a 35-minute flight from Dallas Love Field to Horseshoe Bay, located northwest of Austin on Lake LBJ. The service might be an ideal option for a wedding party or a large family group looking for a special way to celebrate together. Rates start at $299.

8. Take a splash in a water park

Get your feet wet by heading to the FlowRider at the AAA Four Diamond Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio. This wave simulator is a great way to practice your surfing or bodyboarding technique with a private or shared 30-minute lesson. After that, head to the resort’s 5-acre water park and relax on the oak-tree shaded lazy river or challenge yourself to the 2-story waterslide. Rates start at $296.

9. Take a sound bath

A view from the balcony at La Cantera Resort and Spa

Loma de Vida Spa & Wellness in San Antonio offers a variety of relaxing treatments, including a sound bath. Photo courtesy La Cantera Resort and Spa 

If you’re in need of a little tune-up, head to the AAA Four Diamond La Cantera Resort and Spa in San Antonio, which offers a weekly Sound Bowl Meditation at the Loma de Vida Spa. During the class, you’ll lie down on a yoga mat and let the rumbly, wavy sounds created by striking a specially tuned bowl wash over you in this healing ritual derived from Tibet. The result is a deeply relaxed state (maybe treat yourself to a nap afterward). Rates start at $225.

Austin-based writer Cynthia J. Drake is a frequent contributor to AAA Explorer, Texas. 

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AAA travel alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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