A couple of weeks ago, I had to make a quick trip to Houston to attend a full-day continuing education conference, which would be held at the Omni Hotel Houston in the Galleria area. Normally I’m a Hilton guy, but given that I probably wouldn’t be getting in to Houston until late in the evening, I’m not a morning person, and class was scheduled to start at 8 A.M. the next day, I really didn’t want to stay a few miles away and have to get up earlier in the morning just to earn a few hundred HHonors points. That turned out to be a good move. We left home right at 6:00 in the evening, but about 20 minutes in to our drive, my wife realized that we had forgotten to fill the food bowl for the cat, which meant we had to turn around. On the do-over, it was nearly 10 minutes to 7 before we left again, and thanks to some on again-off again thunderstorms on the way down, it was nearly 11 by the time we pulled in to the hotel. With our short time there, I didn’t have as much time to collect photos and walk around the grounds as I would have liked, but I still collected enough to put together this review.
Omni Houston Hotel
- 4 Riverway, Houston, TX 77056
- Facilities – on-site restaurant and nightclub, meeting rooms, 2 outdoor pools, spa, WiFi (free for frequent guest program members), totally non-smoking
The hotel is located just north of the Houston Galleria, near the corner of the West Loop (IH-610) and Woodway Drive. It is a 5-10 minute drive to the Galleria, and about 20-25 minutes to downtown Houston via Woodway or Memorial. Easy access to IH-10 (Katy Freeway), US 290 (Northwest Freeway), US 59 (Southwest Freeway), and the Westpark Tollway. Beware, the West Loop/Southwest Freeway interchange is one of the most congested in Texas, and quite possibly the entire country, so traffic can be quite a problem during rush hours. Use side streets if you need to access the hotel during these times.
Omni has a system where you can check-in online. They send you an e-mail about 72 hours in advance, and you can check-in at anytime thereafter until 6 P.M. the day of arrival. You can’t select a room, but Omni says your room will be guaranteed to be ready for you without a wait as long as you select an approximate check-in time in advance. Sure enough, we arrive at the front desk, and within 30 seconds, had our keys to our room and were on our way.
The rooms here are quite large, with a king-sized bed and a working desk in the corner. At the desk, a power strip is provided, providing plenty of plugs for electronic devices.
The bathroom is also large, and well-appointed with marble floors and granite countertops, though the bath/shower area is rather plain.
One very important thing to remember if you stay at an Omni property – you receive free standard WiFi just for being a member of Omni’s frequent guest program, Select Guest. You don’t even have to be an elite member, unlike HHonors or SPG – all you have to do is sign up for the program before your first stay. There are also a fair number of amenities, like free morning beverages and free bottled water, that kick in on your second stay. If you aren’t a member, make sure to sign up for an account before you stay.
The next day, I had some limited time to check out the common areas of the hotel before heading to class and during scheduled breaks. The interior of the hotel is about what you would expect from a business hotel. It is fairly well-appointed, but not exactly oppulent, and the front desk in particular seems rather small for a hotel this size. The moat-like feature in the center of the main lobby is interesting. Personally, I’m not a fan of these types of features. I think it’s an example of a hotel trying too hard to be “cool”, and makes the lobby feel less spacious than it really is, but nonetheless, it does grab your attention.
Sitting area at the elevator bank on our floor
Downstairs in the main lobby
Looking towards the front desk
The moat-like structure in the center of the lobby
Looking towards the hotel’s restaurant, the NOE Grill
I spent most of the day in the meeting rooms on the second floor. This floor carried on the theme seen throughout the rest of the hotel – functional, but pretty typical of a business/conference hotel built in the 1980s or 1990s. In other words, built not to offend.
A light rain fell on and off for most of the day, and I only had 15 minutes or so between sessions to look around, so I didn’t have a chance to walk around the outside hotel grounds, and with a lunch session included in our seminar, I didn’t have the opportunity to try the hotel’s restaurant. However, our rubber chicken lunch was catered by the hotel, and I have to say, it was actually pretty good for a rubber chicken lunch. We were served chicken with cream sauce, roasted vegetables, and mashed potatoes, and it was all quite tasty. The chicken breast wasn’t overcooked, like it usually is at these types of luncheons, the vegetables (asparagus and carrots) were tender without being mushy, and the mashed potatoes were rich and creamy. I was actually looking forward to trying the hotel’s restaurant after the experience. The only service I was able to experience was at the front desk, which was just fine. The attendants were cheerful, and handled the check-in and check-out processes very quickly and efficiently. Before leaving for the day, I called down to the valet stand about 10 minutes prior to heading down to retrieve my car, and it pulled up shortly after I walked out the door.
Overall, the Omni Houston Hotel is a good business hotel if you have a conference and/or are visiting clients in the Galleria area of Houston. It’s a little too far away from Downtown to be a realistic option if you have business there, but if downtown is sold out for some reason (Houston Rodeo, Texans game, etc.), the drive is manageable. It’s not particularly fancy and lacks a real “wow” factor, but it gets the job done.
Rating: 4 stars