Just west of downtown Houston’s towering high-rises, the Montrose district is an art and architecture lover’s dream. Bound by Highway 59 to the south, Allen Parkway to the north, Bagby Street to the east, and Shepherd Drive to the west, the neighborhood was established as a planned upscale community more than a century ago. Many of the homes from that time were designed in the Colonial Revival, Craftsman, or Prairie style. Montrose counts President Lyndon B. Johnson, billionaire Howard Hughes, and actor Clark Gable among its more famous former residents. Starting in the seventies, the district became a favorite of the city’s gay community. Today it features artsy bungalows and sleek residential towers in addition to renovated historic estates (walking tours provided by Preservation Houston, a nonprofit dedicated to saving historic areas, are a great way to learn more). Also within its compact four square miles are beloved restaurants, eclectic boutiques, and world-class art galleries and museums, making this posh pocket of the Bayou City a great spot for a weekend getaway.
The family-owned boutique hotel La Colombe d’Or embodies Montrose’s history and architecture. The property’s main building, a 1923 mansion that was once home to Walter Fondren Sr., a cofounder of the Humble Oil Company (now part of ExxonMobil), recently underwent a significant redesign that restored the original woodwork and outfitted the guest rooms with art deco–inspired furnishings. A new tower with residences as well as hotel rooms offers a more modern option.
Dine + Drink
Start the morning at Tonight & Tomorrow, La Colombe d’Or’s European-style restaurant, with a healthy orange tonic that includes carrot and ginger, or splurge with the Biscuit Royal fried-egg sandwich. For lunch, venture about a mile northwest to Ostia for roasted cauliflower salad with golden raisins and a wood-fired margherita pizza. If you can snag a dinner reservation, a nine-course prix fixe Mediterranean-inspired experience at the new March is exquisite and comes with a vermouth aperitif and white-glove service. Or try chef Chris Shepherd’s glitzy steakhouse, Georgia James, which is soon relocating to a new spot within the neighborhood.
Oenophiles will obsess over the eclectic selection at Light Years, a wine bar and retail shop that’s housed in a funky bungalow and emphasizes natural and low-intervention wines. Peruse the hip finds at women’s boutique Emerson Rose, or mark the trip with a souvenir from Space Montrose, which has an array of quirky-cute gifts and home goods from local makers. And for luxury bedding and decor, Biscuit is a favorite.
See + Do
At the Menil Drawing Institute, the three-year-old addition to the prestigious Menil Collection, catch the site-specific wall drawings from Nigerian artist Marcia Kure through August. Nearby, the octagonal Rothko Chapel, featuring canvases by minimalist painter Mark Rothko, reopened in 2020 after a renovation; don’t miss sculptor Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk outside. Let your hair down at Numbers Nightclub, a music and dance institution for more than forty years.
This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “An Elegant Escape in Houston.” Subscribe today.