I often travel to Houston for business and find myself staying in the Galleria area about half of the time. While the Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria has been open for some time. I hadn’t the chance to stay, however, when my family joined me for a weekend in Houston we thought we’d try it out. Unfortunately, as my review will show, our result was mixed.
Within a five-minute walk to the Houston Galleria mall, the hotel is positioned on Sage Road, next to the Hyatt Place (Houston Galleria). Connected to the property is a parking garage though self-parking is not an option offered by the hotel, Valet runs $32/day.
If you intend to drive to the hotel in either a rental car or your own, valet is offered for $32/nt. While self-parking could be secured nearby (there are lots of garages but I didn’t inquire as to their overnight policies), we used the service both of our two nights at the property.
For most of the time we were in residence, the Valet was rather good. Both the Hyatt Place Houston Galleria (next door and also requires Valet to park on site) and the Hyatt Regency use a Valet app to request your car. It’s quite fast and easy-to-use. The Valet that grabs your keys initially will send you a text with a link that allows you to request your car at any time. It was as fast as calling down on the phone but far more accurate in my experience.
I used the Valet a lot during my stay, and had a mostly seamless experience, however, not a perfect experience. Returning from the Manchester Derby, I arrived back at the hotel to a number of vehicles waiting to be parked or waiting for people to come outside. I waited for awhile in my car and when no one came for the keys, I walked towards the building. Neither my wife nor I could find a single Valet at all (coming, going or manning the podium). Finally someone offered to “take [my] keys” but was not dressed in a uniform, had no name tag and didn’t identify themselves with the hotel.
I did not give the keys to my car rental – we had scored a very nice, very new, Audi Q5. It seemed like the kind of thing someone would do and then have to recount that story to the police the next morning after it disappeared. Keys in pocket, parked in the hotel driveway but well out-of-the-way, I went upstairs to my room.
In the morning I got a text asking me if I had the keys to my vehicle. I did and promptly popped downstairs and left as I was off to a meeting. The Valet crew was upset that I had left my car there all night – which was fair enough.
However, they didn’t bother to text me until they realized it at almost 8AM. Further, their suggestion was that I should have left the keys in the car or handed them to an out of uniform Valet that “had just gotten off his shift” without any ID whatsoever. I guess we are going to have to call this an “agree to disagree” situation. If it was a big deal, they would have texted sooner, and I do not think it’s unfair to say that I didn’t feel comfortable in the situation leaving my keys to a stranger who could have been anybody loitering around the busy driveway of the hotel.
At checkin I was greeted by a perfectly friendly front desk agent. With the changes from Gold Passport (upgrades given to Diamond members outside of confirmed suites were rare in my experience) to World of Hyatt, I ask for a suite at checkin as this is now a space positive program benefit. I was told that the hotel was fully booked and that my room was also not ready. That’s ok, we were early.
However, I was a little surprised that we were not given an upgrade. Let me qualify that for a moment before you grab your pitchforks. I have known several Hyatt team members and former employees and rarely are suites outright sold at a city hotel accomplishing a perfect sellout. Just as a perfect sellout on a flight is nearly impossible (exactly the amount of coach seats sold and exactly the amount of first class seats sold), so they are in hotels.
What is more typically the case is that an airline sells either 100% capacity of seats available (JetBlue and Southwest do not oversell) or more (everyone else) and they upgrade passengers into un-sold first class seats that didn’t sellout on their own. Based on this property’s location, it’s highly unlikely that those suites were sold, though it is very likely that the hotel as a whole was sold out. In essence, someone was likely be upgraded into those suites. I was able to confirm at checkin that suites were still available for sale
The new World of Hyatt benefits state that suite upgrades are available without requiring the use of Diamond Suite Upgrades Whatever-you-call-them-now-upgrades. While this may not be the “best room available” benefit that SPG gives their customers, it does suggest to me that, by the vagueness of the benefit, if there is a suite that was not booked, it should be available to me at checkin. It wasn’t made available, and I always vote with my feet. I booked a different property for an upcoming stay in Houston.
For a soldout hotel, they also found a way to find a second room when a business colleague showed up last-minute and needed a place to stay. I approached the desk (speaking to a different agent this time) and was told there were no rooms at the inn. I know from friends that they will overbook a hotel by a certain number of rooms though this was emphatically denied.
I stood at the desk, opened the Hyatt app on my phone while she clicked and clacked on the keyboard. I secured a room for my colleague in about 90 seconds, then turned my phone around to show the confirmation number and collect the key. It was given to me instantly, further suggesting that front desk staff do not always have the detailed understanding of the hotel’s inner workings despite their suggestion they do.
I hope they did not have to walk someone who night. It’s unpleasant for the guest and the hotel. However, if they were truly soldout, Hyatt should restrict booing (I know for a fact they automatically do this once the overbooking number is reached). Further, if Hyatt has decided that they will openly accept the risk of walking someone (giving them a room at another nearby property, equivalent to a bump) as has the specific property, then it doesn’t matter if I was the one that oversold them or not.
The front desk staff at this fairly new hotel could be best described as “generally politely surly”. I make a point to compliment great service where I see it and my other hotel reviews reflect that. I think that my description of the service I received stands on its own.
The room was modern, had ample space, but was otherwise unremarkable. The key for this area of Houston is updating. I previously covered the JW Marriott Houston (Galleria) and that the building from the outside looked dated and stodgy. The rooms were excellent there to my surprise simply because they had been recently updated. As this was a new property, the room was clean and inline with current Hyatt design standards.
We had a corner King room with ample storage both hanging and in drawers for clothes. There were a couple of large mirrors inside and outside of the bathroom, though not on the level of the nearby JW.
To either side of the bed were modern nightstands that had surprisingly limited plugs. It surprises me t0 this day that the most consistently generous hotel brand that offers excellent bedside plugs comes from Hampton Inn. Across from the bed was a large flat screen TV (50″ is my guess), along with some connections to display your own media if so desired.
The bed was comfortable and large, exactly as expected.
Windows surrounded the corner next to a sitting area with a small, moveable desk for working away from the bed or a traditional desk space.
The bathroom was excellent at this property if not for a couple of small personal hangups. Large sliding glass barn doors hung over the entrance to the bathroom opening to the vanity with the water closet to my right, and a huge walk-in shower to my left.
There was no discernible lock on the bathroom itself nor on the door inside to the toilet. I love a closed-door toilet within a bathroom for added privacy, but find it a little odd that none of them could be locked.
The shower did not offer a tub option and measured about five feet wide and six or seven feet long. That’s a lot of space for a shower by just about any standards. It was appreciated especially after returning from the pool where we could quickly and efficiently bathe our three-year old.
Located on the third floor, the pool shares the floor with the Fitness Center and normal rooms. Do not book the third floor if you can help it. Guests were constantly in and out of the gym, the floors were generally wet from those at the pool and I am sure the constant noise would be an issue.
The pool is about the right size, at least during our visit. There were enough chairs for anyone that wanted to spend time at the pool. A mix of loungers, outdoor couches and chairs, as well as umbrella picnic tables were available.
The hotel made some toys available for guests (foam pool noodles, inflatable rings, floating hollow play balls). The maintenance of these items could have been better. Our determined daughter tried to assist the staff in reviving on such inflatable however, she was unsuccessful. The pool toys were always just floating in the pool.
There was no poolside service but the hotel doesn’t claim to be five star so it’s not necessarily a requirement. The temperature was good, the sun found a way to us despite buildings in the area and our daughter loved playing in the water.
The Regency Club at this hotel was abandoned during our visit aside from three guests who were sitting down after grabbing a Coke. By my estimation it could seat as many as 40 guests but it would be tight at breakfast with that many people.
We didn’t have a chance to try the breakfast in the lounge (note on that below) but there were menus for breakfast they were serving downstairs in the restaurant at the guest’s cost.
When we went in to have a peek around there were cookies from the bakery downstairs in a jar and I grabbed one… “for my daughter”. It was delicious I am told. There were drinks available to have in the club or take back to your room as it was unattended. We went to the club about an hour before happy hour would have started and were surprised to see the lights off inside. It was a weekend so it made sense that it wasn’t staffed or packed, but I would have thought they would have left the lights on.
Restaurant and Breakfast
We ate breakfast in the hotel’s Urban Star restaurant on the first day. Most Hyatt’s offer breakfast in the lounge or in the restaurant, others are more strict. The Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria passed out a slip with my room key with the times of lounge services (breakfast and happy hour). Some hotels do this, others do not – we didn’t pay it too much mind.
Service in the restaurant was not great. There was a small buffet for grabbing a quick breakfast or a full menu. I would have preferred to order off the menu but just didn’t have time before my meeting, it was ten minutes before our coffees arrived. I grabbed some items off the buffet and left my wife and daughter to have breakfast and enjoy their day.
At checkout though I had to arm wrestle the front desk to waive the breakfast charge. This was a different desk agent than my previous encounter. He asked if I was given the card at checkin and I said I was, there was a long pause as if that suggested I should have known better.
I asked for the card again and read every line of it. It stated the times and location of the lounge but did not say that breakfast would only be offered to Globalists in the lounge complimentary. I read it back to him as he stood there declining to remove the charge. He ultimately relented.
A benefit as a result of status is only a benefit when you don’t have to arm wrestle to get it. Between this and the room upgrade it seems like there is a mixed relationship with elites. If they will not offer breakfast in the restaurant, fine, state it on the card – many Hyatt hotels have that rule. By strictly not stating it in an obvious place where such a restriction should be listed, it leads me to believe that they don’t mind either way. Until they fight me to remove it at checkout.
On the topic of food I also wanted to mention that the hotel went above and beyond in delivering a welcome gift, something no longer part of the World of Hyatt program. The tray they brought was very good. There was a collection of cheeses, a pot of honey, nuts, fruit, crackers, bottle of wine, etc.
I definitely appreciated the tray, but collection became a problem. We left it in the room with a napkin over the top signifying that we were finished. The housekeeping staff didn’t pick it up, perhaps they thought we were still working on it. We left it outside the room, napkin over the top and called down to request that it was collected. We went out for a few hours to eat and shop at the mall and the tray was still there when we came back. We called down again for collection and went to bed. The next day the tray had not been removed before we left at 2pm, housekeepers had already cleaned the rooms around ours and left for another floor.
I appreciate the gesture, and the food on the tray was excellent. However, I don’t want the room to wreak of stinky cheese and sticky honey at room temperature for days on end. I also don’t want to leave it outside the room like a slob for the same period. If they take their time picking it up, that’s fine – but roughly two days later, and after several phone calls – it’s just lazy and it ruins some of the positive effect of the welcome amenity in the first place.
The price ranged from $180-280/nt before taxes and fees (on the higher side the fees brought a single night stay to $330). The hotel is very nice, very modern but the price point is either fair or very high. At $180/nt the hotel is in the range of other nice properties in the area if not a little high (remember to add $32/nt in valet if you have a car to park). However, at $280/nt before fees, taxes and valet – the price is absurdly high.
Other updated, modern hotels in the area include the aforementioned JW Marriott, the Westin properties attached to Galleria mall all in the $180-220/nt range. Select service hotels like the Hyatt Place, Hotel Indigo, Hyatt House, Courtyard and others are available closer to $110-160/nt. Those properties offer the excellent location without the high prices. If they aren’t going to offer breakfast in the restaurant anyway, I don’t see the advantage or the value in staying in a full service property.
Will We Return?
Maybe. If the price is right we might return, but only time will tell. I have another trip to Houston I just booked and I picked another hotel instead. It’s a nice property, but it’s not worth the money above $200/nt where I consistently find this hotel priced.
Have you stayed at the Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria? Was your experience similar?