Tilman Fertitta’s Post Oak Hotel ranks as best hotel in Texas

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The Post Oak Hotel, owned by Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta, is No. 1 in the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best 25 hotels in Texas. It also made No. 13 in the publication’s best hotels in the U.S. list.

Located in the swanky Uptown neighborhood of Houston, the 38-story, 250-room hotel opened in 2018. It has a designer boutique, a spa, a salon, a fitness center, a Rolls Royce showroom and on-site dealerships for Bentley and Bugatti cars.

Tilman Fertitta opens his Post Oak Presidential Suite - 5,000 square feet fit for any VIP

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If Tilman Fertitta’s new Post Oak Hotel is going to be known for anything, it will likely be its opulence — and its Presidential Suite, which only recently started welcoming guests, is no different.

The most public spaces in the hotel owned by the very hands-on Fertitta — whose holdings include the many restaurants of Landry’s Inc., five casinos and the Houston Rockets — dazzle with slabs of expensive Italian Calacatta marble from Aria Stone Gallery and chandeliers dripping with shards of crystals. Museum-quality art hangs on the walls of its main lobby, grand ballroom entrance and even its mezzanine level.

All of that is found, too, on the hotel’s most private floors, including the 22nd-floor Presidential Suite, a 5,000-square-foot space that goes for $12,000 per night. (The weeknight rate for a regular room is $529, which Fertitta believes is about $100 more than any other hotel in town.)

FIRST LOOK: Fertitta’s new Hotel dazzles

Don’t be too shocked at the price tag. When Fertitta’s own 15,000-square-foot personal penthouse is finished later this year, it will be available to anyone who wants to pay its $100,000-per-night before-tax tab.

Fertitta, 60, a Galveston native and star of CNBC’s “Billion Dollar Buyer,” said he spent an average of $1.1 million on each of the Uptown Houston hotel’s 250 guest rooms and suites. The hotel’s main floor features Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Bugatti car dealerships, his 29 North fashion boutique and a collection of bars and restaurants that includes the new Mastro’s Steakhouse and a reimagined Willie G’s Seafood.

Those heading to the Presidential Suite, though, can ride a regular elevator off of the lobby or enter more discretely via a private elevator accessible from the parking garage or from the hotel’s helipad.

However they choose, says hotel general manager Jorge Gonzalez, they can come and go without being seen.

If it seems like a magnet for celebrities, so far, none who’ve been to the city in the past few weeks have used this suite. Gonzalez won’t name names, of course — Presidential Suites at any hotel are uber private — but guests so far have been business VIPs who are likely better known for their companies’ quarterly earnings than for their legions of Twitter followers.

The suite’s foyer-like entrance is a signal of what’s inside: plenty of gleaming black and white marble, sparkling lighting and vases filled with ethereal bouquets of white orchids, roses and other flowers.

Inside, you’ll stop to admire the suite’s beautiful artwork that includes two paintings by 20th century abstract expressionist artist Robert Motherwell. The master bedroom has an oil on canvas by Oscar Saborio (“Summer Wind East of Brenham” 2016) and vintage black-and-white photography includes works by Horst as well as Bob Gomel. Gomel’s 1962 image captures streets lined with Houstonians ready to greet then-President John F. Kennedy, who came then to give his famous Space Race speech at Rice University.

Fertitta is known for his vast collection of art, which grew dramatically as he prepared for the mid-March opening of his $350 million hotel. Purchases made specifically for the hotel included works by Frank Stella, Alex Katz, Friedel Dzubas, Donald Sultan, Howard Hodgkin and Joseph Glas.

Giant windows on the Presidential Suite’s three exterior sides — the suite takes up about half of a floor — offer views to the east, west and north. During the day it’s a mix of freeways, skyscrapers and construction cranes busy adding new layers to the skyline, but the night view glows with white lights twinkling in tall buildings and red taillights of commuters in a hurry to get wherever they’re going.

In a recent tour of the space, Gonzalez talked about the suite’s home-like, albeit elegant, atmosphere.

“It has to have the comfort, and it has to show the elegance of the environment,” said Gonzalez, who came to Houston from the Mandarin Oriental in Miami, where he was general manager and area vice president. (That hotel earned a Forbes Five-Star rating three times, and both Gonzalez and Fertitta hope that the Post Oak will earn it, too.)

The living area includes a plush, white velvet sectional sofa positioned in front of a marble-encased console that holds a TV that springs to life on command. Hanging from the silver-leafed ceiling are a pair of Italian Novaresi chandeliers, each dripping with 300 strands of faceted crystals.

“Everything in this suite was hand picked. They’re all one-of-a-kind pieces. We don’t have any of this furniture anywhere else in the hotel,” Gonzalez said. “It was very important for Tilman that when you walk into the suite you don’t feel like you’re in a hotel — but you have all of the hotel services.”

In the nearby dining area, a tree-like, gold-leafed chandelier loaded with chunky shards of opaque white agate sprawls over a table set with a handful of globes filled with huge white roses, petals ready to burst open.

Two bedrooms — a master and a secondary room — offer comfortable furniture, upholstered headboards, luxurious bedding and more hidden TVs. (In all, the Presidential Suite has 10 TVs sprinkled throughout its rooms.) Closets are roomy — and there’s an extra one just for storage, likely needed by VIPs who travel with luggage they’d rather not look at even if it cost as much as the room.

Slabs of marble are bookmatched on counters and paired as mirror images on walls to resemble Mother Nature’s attempt at Rorschach inkblots in the bathrooms. Luxurious gray, veiny Calacatta marble is paired with black granite on floors, around bathtubs and in showers.

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The room has an office so executives can hold small meetings or get some work done. A small gym holds workout equipment — it had a Technogym treadmill and cycle, though Gonzalez said the equipment could swap out according to each guest’s needs — as well as a massage table with an extra curtain for privacy.

There’s a kitchen, too, and it’s accessible from the suite or from the hallway in case the guest hires a caterer or chef who needs to slip in quietly.

There’s always the possibility that the suite’s guest might want to do some cooking, of course. Gonzalez recalled his first celebrity guest at the Mandarin Oriental. It was Luciano Pavarotti, who charmed Gonzalez with a big meal of Italian pasta that he prepared himself.

“We want to be sure that residents staying here feel like they’re in a home rather than a hotel suite. You don’t see the hotel name anywhere in here except for the logo on the shower drain and on a notepad,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez pointed to an iPad mounted on a wall, a technological control center of sorts. “Technology is another big thing. It has to have whatever our guests need right now, and be easy to use,” he said. “We don’t want guests to have to call someone from the hotel IT department to come and help you out, but we do have an IT valet on duty 24/7.”

A stunning Industrialist

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Located in downtown Pittsburgh in the 119-year-old Arrott Building, the 124-room Industrialist Hotel takes its design cues from its home city and its storied history as a steel industry hub.

Originally built in 1902, in the city’s prominent 4th Avenue District by architect Frederick Osterling, the historic facade of the 18-story landmark building holds rich architectural details including a Cornice crown with howling masks and a brick and terracotta striped facade on a granite base. Stonehill Taylor oversaw the interior design of the hotel, including three floors of public spaces, as well as guestrooms and suites.

“We dove deep into researching the city of Pittsburgh and its culture: Its rich, industrial past was a natural backdrop to gather our initial design concepts of machinery, business, the rivers and their importance to the city’s commerce, and forging steel dedicated to the steel industry,” said Abby Bullard, senior interiors associate, Stonehill Taylor. “These concepts made it easy to pin down our design pillars of smoke, water and molten to inform the full scope of the hotel’s interiors.”

The hotel’s interior design references the thriving history of Pittsburgh as an industrial capital with themes related to the city’s steel industry rooted in elements of smoke and molten metal. Its design also makes organic nods to the city’s position at the confluence of three rivers called “The Point” referring to where the Ohio, the Allegheny and the Monongahela rivers meet.

The entry is located on the first floor where guests will walk into a historic grand elevator lobby clad in original marble walls, floors and brass accents from the turn of the century. Custom modern lighting guides guests to the elevators, and up-lit walls create a unique special effect on the ornate ceiling reminiscent of the city’s nearby rivers. The focal point of the elevator lobby is a collection of three modern sculptural chandeliers made of metal and inspired by machinery and steel fabrication. Each elevator cab feels like a vintage time capsule wrapped in three distinct warm metal materials including brass, copper and bronze wall coverings. Cool-toned dark porcelain flooring and leather upholstered handrails balance the mood.

On the street level, visitors will find an elegant industrial bar and restaurant called The Rebel Room, which is illuminated by large original windows facing the street. The bar itself is the focal point of the space with glowing features imitating a large hearth with warm backlighting, copper mesh coverings and a back-lit outsized antique mirror TV and two-toned patina bar top reminiscent of molten steel. The banquette railings and tables feature brass accents and subdued dark upholstery keeping the focus on the bar. Water-inspired blue porcelain tiles underneath the bar top add contrast and soften the space.

On the second floor is the guest lobby, where an up-lit custom reception desk is framed by one of the building’s iconic arched windows. A sculptural pendant light floats above. To the right, guests can explore an expansive 2nd floor salon, and, to the left, a library, both with dark custom wallcoverings and dark wood flooring with avant-garde and playful furnishings evocative of midcentury design.

To the right of the guest lobby is the salon. Here, visitors are met by a sophisticated lounge area with 40 custom burnt orange Moderna chairs and classic plush sofas around a striking corner fireplace clad in antique mirror underneath a statement artwork by Pittsburgh artist Louise Pershing. This space also features modern brass lighting as well as brass side and coffee tables, which sit atop a custom molten-inspired rug.

Moving through the center of the space, the salon expands with a long sofa seating area featuring a plush cool-toned sofa paired with lounge chairs and small cocktail tables. To the right, the focal point of the room is an industrial molten-inspired communal table with group seating framed by a sculptural rope-like light fixture. Completing the salon on the far end of the room is a brass and bronze cocktail armoire handsomely outfitting the room with a copper-inspired back wall, bar, and sheer drapery. The space doubles as a coffee shop during the day and a cocktail bar in the evening.

To the left of reception is an ember-like library space centered around a communal dark table with saddle leather desk chairs by Gervasoni with a beechwood lacquered frames and dark wood flooring. The room itself is outlined in custom millwork with up-lit bronze mesh and copper backing. At the room’s entry, there are playful upholstered maroon and oak framed lounge chairs by Hay with metal side tables. Also, on the second floor, guests will find midcentury-inspired “Instagram-worthy” corridors and restrooms with monochromatic color themes—blue for men, and burgundy for women—featuring retro backlit walls and vanity mirrors.

On the third floor, more public spaces include a 1,267-sq.-ft. private event space and a fitness center. Inside the fitness center is an abstract, oil-painted inspired ceiling that replicates the flow of molten steel and smoke using contrasting orange tones lit by modern light fixtures. The private event space, which can hold up to 48 people seated, includes dark maroon wallcoverings juxtaposed with slate gray walls complemented by sheer dark drapery. Modern pre-function ceiling lighting and pendants spotlight the space, which features contemporary dining tables and vinyl seating.

The guestrooms located on floors four-18 strongly represent the hotel’s design pillar related to smoke and Pittsburgh’s steel industry with their monochromatic industrial color palette, raw materials and ambient lighting. The hotel offers several room types including single queens, double queens, king and junior king suites and a presidential suite.

Guests enter standard rooms through an open floorplan with a foyer connected to the bathroom and bedroom in one lofty space. The entryway greets guests with leather entry bench. The bathrooms are clad in dark granite tile including the shower, with an open vanity paired with electric ambient lighting and warm brass fixtures. The vanity area in each room surprises with a fire-colored wallcovering contrasting with dark tones. Moving into the bedroom, a custom abstract carpet marks the change in space, mixing orange, black and beige to resemble molten steel. To the left, there is a custom millwork centerpiece running the length of the wall that includes a closet, cocktail area, mini-fridge and TV.

On the right, the room focuses on the striking bed with a back-lit custom leather headboard. Design-forward brass wall sconces frame the area against a monochromatic wall. Smoke-like abstract artworks hang next to each bed. Plush modern sofas highlighted by orange piping are found in the corresponding seating areas paired with a metal and wood C-tables/desks. The suites have solid wood distressed oak flooring and hand-woven flat weave area rugs by Marc Phillips rugs.