When most of us plan our summer vacations these days, we scour the Internet for the best hotel deals and click to purchase the ones that fit our budget.Soft down pillows, free breakfast and a great view? Score, score and score.But the lucky travelers for whom only the very best accommodations will do — private butlers, party-size hot tubs, fully stocked jukeboxes — go straight to the top, to the finest suite a hotel has to offer. Travel writers in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Tarrant County knocked on the doors of the most sought-after suites in their areas.Whether discriminating guests are checking in for a night or a fortnight, they’ll enjoy amenities such as in-house poker tables, outdoor showers and other perks that go above and beyond the high standards of hospitality that Texas is known for.Grab your Louis Vuitton luggage, slip on your Louboutins and take a peek inside the rooms that rock stars, athletes and starlets call their Texas home away from home.AustinPresidential Suite, Four Seasons HotelWhere have rock gods, movie stars and influential dignitaries slept in Austin for decades? The dignified, secure, yet unstuffy Presidential Suite in the Four Seasons Hotel overlooking Lady Bird Lake.A large parlor flanked by two “connectors,” or sleeping rooms, with support spaces — including a butler’s pantry with its own discreet entrance — make up this 1,598-square-foot mini-palace. Perfect for the top talent lingering in town for South by Southwest, Austin City Limits Music Festival or the U.S. Grand Prix.The furniture, copious and comfy, matches the reserved Four Seasons palette of neutral earthtones with splashes of local Austin color and materials. A generously stocked bar sits astride an expansive dining suite, suitable for interviews as well as meals. (Oprah Winfrey grilled Lance Armstrong in this room.)Part and parcel with the suite are the Four Seasons’ famously immaculate service and disciplined discretion. Yet what most guests probably remember is the view: the shimmery lake resting between leafy banks. On a beautiful day, open the windows and drink in the breezes wafting down from the Hill Country. Details: Starts at $2,500 per night for the full suite, but it can be reserved in separate sections. 98 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, 512-478-4500, fourseasons.com/austin.Suite 4, Hotel Saint CeciliaA retro baroque pop sensibility dresses up Suite 4 at the boutique Hotel Saint Cecilia.Located in the quiet, hilly Travis Heights neighborhood south of downtown Austin, the transformed estate is enclosed by ancient trees and exquisite landscaping. Visionary hotelier Liz Lambert imagined this shady spot as a high-end counterpart to her nearby and incredibly popular Hotel San Jose, which helped convert South Congress Avenue into the tourist magnet known as SoCo.Suite 4 opens onto a sweet porch and private back yard curtained off by slender bamboo and furnished with an inviting fire pit. (Stage your own cocktail party here!)The large bedroom inside the 730-square-foot suite, crowned by Victorian-era tall ceilings, features a top-of-the-line Hastens bed dressed with Rivolta Carmignani cotton sheets. Globally inspired spa and mini-bar items await around each corner of Suite 4. Especially appreciated in the Live Music Capital of the World is the Geneva sound system with a turntable and iPod connection (LPs available in the hotel office).Always booked for the city’s many big festivals, this suite is a place to rock on outrageously, but beyond the prying eyes of the public. Details: Starts at $500. 112 Academy Drive, Austin, 512-852-2400, hotelsaintcecilia.com.San AntonioPresidential Suite, Hotel ValenciaThe autographed blown-glass oranges that fill a lobby display case hint at the popularity of the Hotel Valencia. Names of the rich and famous who have stayed in the Presidential Suite at this River Walk luxury hotel (many leaving their signatures on one of the oranges by local glass artist Gini Garcia) include Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, Alicia Keys, Harry Connick Jr., Carrie Underwood, Dennis Quaid, Joe Montana, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, R.L. Stine, Charlize Theron, and Jennifer Lopez, to name just a few.Guests in this suite enjoy a dining room and living area that seats up to 10 with a 42-inch plasma TV and surround sound. French doors open to a balcony that wraps around the dining room, providing a view of the River Walk and downtown.The hotel’s Tuscan architecture and minimal-chic contemporary furnishings might tempt lucky guests to linger in the custom beds with luxury linens, but the Citrus restaurant and hip Vbar are downstairs from this third-floor suite and the hotel is surrounded by restaurants and bars.A full-service multilingual concierge staff can arrange spa services, dinner reservations or a night on the town. Or you can stay in and take advantage of the 24/7 room service and serve up something refreshing from the bar area. Details: $3,500 per night. 150 E. Houston St., San Antonio, 210-227-9700, www.hotelvalencia-riverwalk.com.Presidential Suite, Omni La Mansion Del RioWhen Carol Burnett spent the night in this two-bedroom suite in one of the city’s historical treasures, she could look out a window and see Nix Hospital, where she was born. She’s just one of the celebs who have stayed at the hotel with Spanish Colonial architecture on the River Walk. Others include Lyle Lovett, Sandra Bullock, Luis Miguel, Denzel Washington, Bette Midler, George Lopez and Morocco’s Prince Moulay Rachid ben al Hassan.The Prince of Morocco not only rented the suite, using one bedroom just for his luggage while on vacation in the Alamo City, but took a wing of the hotel to provide a couple of rooms for his security staff. He also brought his own soap, specifying that the hotel stack 40-50 bars next to the garden tub in the large bathroom. Around the corner from the tub are a dry sauna and a spa tub that could seat six comfortably, if one preferred company.Guests enter through a foyer with a marble floor and chandelier. In the living room, a brown leather sofa and chairs provide comfy spots in front of the TV (hidden away), and leather dining chairs surround a large dining table. Original artwork is placed throughout the suite. In the king bedroom, you can work at your desk or lounge in the leather chaise and read a good book. Room service is provided 24/7, but the hotel’s Las Canarias restaurant, with indoor and alfresco seating and New American cuisine, is a popular River Walk option.Jerry Seinfeld had fewer special requests than the prince when he stayed at La Mansion — just a blender for his room. And he asked the hotel to rent out a theater so he and his manager and security could see a movie without company.Morgan Freeman once got the suite as a midweek walk-in at the hotel. Tony Bennett chatted up the locals in the bar after a performance at the nearby Majestic Theatre. Details: $2,000-$3,000 per night. 112 College St., San Antonio, 210-518-1000, www.omnilamansion.com.HoustonThe Rock Star Suite, Hotel ZaZa HoustonEver wonder what it would feel like to live the life of a high-roller musician, if just for a night? Check in to the Rock Star Suite, known for its eclectic opulence, one of the largest of the locally famous “Magnificent Seven” suites at Hotel ZaZa.The sexy 2,160-square-foot space lives up to its name: It’s a swirl of velvet, leather, animal prints, glitzy crystal chandeliers, rich hues of red and royal purple, and gilded details galore.The two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath party pad has plenty of space for a gang of groupies, including a wraparound couch in the grand living area, an oversize dining table and a stainless-steel, champagne-ready kitchen. The mirror-clad master bedroom has an oversize king, and its bathroom is lined with provocative photos of women.Pictures of rock stars hang on the walls throughout the space — think Mick Jagger, Tommy Lee and Joan Jett. Plenty of stars have rested their heads here, too, or in other concept suites at ZaZa: Madonna to name one, plus David Beckham, Jennifer Lopez and, most recently, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. On the top floor of the 315-room Museum District hotel, the Rock Star Suite also offers rocking views of the Houston skyline, a perfect perch from which to lord over the city crowds below. Details: $2,000 on weekdays, $2,799 weekends. 5701 Main St., Houston, 713-526-1991, www.hotelzaza.com/#houston.The Presidential Suite, St. Regis HoustonIt may not have the wild design of Hotel ZaZa, but the elegant St. Regis hotel, tucked away near Houston’s tony River Oaks neighborhood, can boast the most expensive penthouse suite in the city.The 2,500-square-foot, 12th-floor Presidential Suite is washed in soft neutrals, a casual Texas spin on the classic St. Regis aesthetic. Golden swirls are stenciled on the ceiling; other luxurious touches include Venetian glass lamps, handwoven rugs and a polished inlaid parquetry wood floor in the warmly sophisticated entryway. The suite has two king-size bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a study and a large dining room with seating for eight.The master bath comes with a jetted tub facing large windows offering a dramatic city view. There’s also a private, picturesque terrace, plus a working fireplace and a walk-in closet, which could come in handy, as the St. Regis is a mile from the Galleria, Houston’s designer-savvy shopping mall.The suite also comes with a butler to cater to your every whim 24 hours a day, from booking dinner reservations to unpacking your suitcase. The suite’s full kitchen has a separate butler entrance, too.Who has stayed in the Presidential? The St. Regis won’t say. One would suspect prominent politicians and international dignitaries. And maybe Lady Gaga — paparazzi photos of the singer cavorting in the hotel pool surfaced online in 2010. Details: From $7,000 per night. 1919 Briar Oaks Lane, Houston, 713-840-7600, www.stregishoustonhotel.com. Compiled by Celestina Blok, Special to the Star-Telegram; Ellise Pierce, Special to The Dallas Morning News; Terry Scott Bertling, San Antonio Express-News; Michael Barnes, Austin American-Statesman; and Jody Schmal, Houston Chronicle.
North Texas’ sweetest suites
Want to treat yourself to a luxury staycation? Check out these most luxurious rooms at hotels in Tarrant County and Dallas.
The Omni Suite, Omni Fort Worth Hotel
Providing a taste of Fort Worth’s cowboys-and-culture attitude, the Omni Suite at downtown’s Omni Fort Worth Hotel offers chic Western touches amid its spacious and contemporary landscape.
At 1,825 square feet, the suite is the Omni’s largest and is clearly designed for entertaining. It houses a formal dining room with seating for eight, a game room with a marble-topped bar, a foosball table, a four-person poker table equipped with chips and a deck of cards, and an expansive living area with a sectional sofa, a TV armoire, a writing desk and plenty of plush seating.
All spaces are thoughtfully adorned with studded leather accent pieces and Texas-themed art. A full-size guest bathroom with shower is by the suite’s second entrance.
When it’s time to wind down, the master bedroom provides luxurious bedding and an expansive bathroom, which features a walk-in closet and vanity seating. Mini bars come stocked with water, soda and snacks (or liquor, if desired), and beverage service is offered in the morning.
Word is Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney chose this suite for his stay during Super Bowl XLV, as the Omni was the official team hotel.
Details: Starts at $2,500 per night. 1300 Houston St., Fort Worth, 817-535-6664, www.omnihotels.com.
Grand Presidential Suite, Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center
All seven of the Gaylord Texan’s presidential suites, each about 2,000 square feet, were completely remodeled at the end of 2012, providing upgraded amenities and indulgent decor fit for Texas royalty.
The Southwestern-themed Grand Presidential Suite, decorated with an eclectic mix of furnishings rich with burnt orange and bright turquoise touches, includes conference-table seating for 10 people; a workout room with a treadmill, an elliptical machine, a stationary bike and weights; and a full-service kitchen with stainless-steel refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher.
Open the floor-to-ceiling window drapes, or access any in-room electronic device for that matter, with the press of a button from a remote control. Guests can dance to tunes from the suite’s antique jukebox, refurbished to offer an iPod docking station, or watch a game with Bose surround sound, offered in the suite’s living area.
Inside the master bathroom, guests can relax in the spa tub or separate walk-in steam shower. The deluxe patio is outfitted with lounge furniture and provides a panoramic view of Grapevine Lake, making the suite a popular booking for weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day, when fireworks are set off over the water every Friday night.
Details: Up to $5,000 per night. 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, 817-778-1000, www.marriott.com.
The Ritz-Carlton Suite, The Ritz-Carlton
Nick and Nora Charles would feel right at home in this stylish eighth-floor, one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath suite with sweeping views of downtown Dallas.
The spacious living room with vaulted ceilings is appointed with traditional furnishings in soft hues — a seafoam damask sofa, armless chairs in gold zigzag velvet and mahogany accents throughout — providing the sort of sophisticated comfort that never goes out of fashion.
There’s a dining room that seats eight, along with a pantry and private service entrance, and a study. For those who need more than the suite’s 2,385 square feet, adjoining rooms can be accessed, turning the suite into a supersize eighth-floor wing with five bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths.
Naturally, there are 400-thread-count Frette sheets on the beds and Asprey’s Purple Water products in the bathrooms. And should anything be needed — a dinner reservation, tickets to the symphony or simply a bath drawn — there’s a dedicated butler to help.
Instead of navigating Dallas traffic, order up the hotel’s complimentary chauffeured Bentley. British accent not required.
Details: $5,000 per night. 2121 McKinney Ave., Dallas, 214-922-0200, www.ritzcarlton.com.
Penthouse Suite, The Joule
It’s no wonder Britney Spears, 50 Cent and Jim Carrey have all stayed here. The 20th-floor penthouse suite’s splashy superstar decor — Kool-Aid-purple sofas, lipstick-red accents and oversize chess pieces — is as over-the-top as its famous guests.
Throw in a collection of black-and-white photography of Dallas by Bram Tihany (son of the hotel’s designer, Adam Tihany) and you’ve got a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath, 2,500-square-foot space that’s as impressive as it is spacious.
Adding to the sense of space are the floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the south side of the suite in the bedroom and master bath wing, where there’s also a deep, roomy spa tub and double outdoor shower. The effect is almost surreal, as if you’re floating among the clouds, sharing space with the city’s tall buildings.
Bedding is in dreamworthy neutrals, and for bibliophiles, there are sleek reading lamps embedded in the headboard that flip out with a gentle touch. But who wants to read when there’s so much to see outside?
And, even easier — and certainly faster — than shopping online, there’s direct dial to the hotel’s neighbor, Neiman Marcus. (Hello? Louboutins, please.)
Details: $9,000 per night. 1530 Main St., Dallas, 214-748-1300, www.thejouledallas.com.