Several years ago, when passing through Nashville on a business trip with my former boyfriend, we stayed at a Drury Inn & Suites. That was my first encounter with the Drury hotel chain, which is present in the southern and midwestern part of the U.S., but not the northeast where I’m from. We chose it because it was cheap, which was all we could afford. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. So when I visited San Antonio this past winter on a budget, the Drury Plaza became my “go to” hotel of choice.
If you’re planning a trip to San Antonio and really want to stay on the Riverwalk in the Downtown core where all the restaurants are, but you’re on a budget, the Drury Plaza Hotel Riverwalk is a great choice for you. Here’s why:
Drury Provides Value
I paid $113.99/night plus tax for my room. There are cheaper hotels in San Antonio to be sure, but Downtown hotels located on the Riverwalk tend to be pricey. So this was a great price for the location. But it’s not the price that makes Drury great; it’s the value you get for your money.
Drury offers a daily free breakfast buffet to guests. It’s not a gourmet breakfast, but it’s satisfying and plentiful. The coffee was very good. Most days I had pancakes, scrambled eggs, a sausage patty, breakfast potatoes and yogurt. They also had biscuits and gravy and instant grits you could make for yourself.
There is also a nightly “Kickback” special event. When you check into the hotel, you are given a card that you can bring to the buffet area, where every night from 5:30-7pm, there are free appetizers (more like comfort food) and drinks. Yes, you heard that right: FREE DRINKS (the alcoholic kind if you so choose). If I recall correctly, you get up to 3 free drinks per night at this event. I only took advantage of this once, and I only had one drink (a rum and Coke). It was tasty and not at all watered down.
The Kickback food was plain, but it was hot and filling and did the trick for the one night I ate here. They had hot dogs, baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, breaded chicken strips, lettuce, raw carrot sticks and ranch dressing. I brought my food back to my suite, where I decompressed from the day and recharged my batteries (literally and figuratively).
You could save a ton of money on food costs by eating here every breakfast and every night instead of eating out. Every room also has a fridge and microwave, so in theory, you could bring food from home and you wouldn’t have to spend any money on eating out. (I doubt you’d want to do that, because San Antonio has so many wonderful restaurants to sample, but it depends on how tight your travel budget is.) Got the munchies between meals? There’s also free soda and popcorn in the lobby from 3-10pm daily.
Oh, and did I mention free wifi? Because they had that, too. And you know how rare that can be in a hotel these days.
You might be tempted to go with the cheapest room to save even more money. But if you can afford a suite, I recommend it. My suite had an uber-cute and sunny bathroom with plenty of counter space; a living room with sofa, easy chair, desk, room safe, flat panel TV, coffee maker, fridge and microwave; and a queen bedroom, with a comfy bed, fluffy pillows, an extra blanket to keep me warm, and yet another flat panel TV. There was more drawer space than I knew what to do with. It was like a home away home. (I paid for a regular room, but was moved here when my original room was too close to street noise and I couldn’t sleep.)
If you are a history buff, you’ll want to visit this hotel even if you’re not staying here. The Drury Plaza Hotel Riverwalk is housed in the former Alamo Bank building. The lobby is vast and gorgeous, with 50-foot ceilings and great detailing on the woodwork. The centerpiece of the lobby is a beautiful stained glass window depicting the Alamo.
Also on display there is a classic 1930 Ford automobile in mint condition.
But wait! If you’re a guest of the hotel, there’s even more to love!
To get to the Riverwalk, you take the elevator down to the basement level (you’ll need your room key card) and walk past an old bank vault and office that’s still set up as if it were just waiting for the banker to come work for the day to count stacks of bills.
It’s the coolest thing ever for history buffs. The walls along the corridor leading to the Riverwalk are lined with old, black-and-white historical photographs of the bank and the city.
One more thing about the building: Even if you aren’t in the mood for a swim when you’re in town, do head up to the rooftop pool area. There are chairs and tables where you can enjoy some peace and quiet and outstanding views of the city at night.
Genuine Customer Service
The phrase that comes to mind when I think about the customer service here is “Southern hospitality.” The cheerful attitudes I encountered here felt sincere to me. I don’t know if the hotel instills this culture in their employees, or if it’s cultural to San Antonians, but I was impressed.
I must have stopped at the front desk at least half a dozen times with questions and requests, and they were consistently friendly and helpful and never once acted as though I was a bother. Courtney, in particular, was very helpful when I requested a new room because I had trouble sleeping in the first one due to traffic noise. She immediately transferred me to a beautiful corner suite on a higher floor.
I kept bumping into the same housekeeper on my floor, who always had a ready smile and greeting. I finally told her what a great job I thought she was doing. She just beamed at the compliment.
During breakfast one day, an employee who was not a member of the breakfast staff randomly approached my table just to ask me if I had everything I needed. For no reason at all. How often does that happen in a hotel?
Nothing is perfect. As with many hotels downtown, you will hear street noise at night. The building has great character due to its historic nature, but it also means the hallways to the rooms feel a bit like an old office building rather than a hotel. And the extra blanket in my room had what looked like a dried blood stain on it. Yikes.
But any negatives I experienced here were far outweighed by the positives. I love a hotel that “gets it”, that understands that customers want value for their hard-earned money, and Drury does. I wish this chain were available all over the country, not just in southern and midwestern states. If you’re headed to San Antonio on a budget, keep this place in mind. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck here.
Not to mention a bank for your buck.