Disclosure: I was invited for a complimentary stay for the purposes of this review. However, all opinions, experiences, and photographs are entirely my own.
When one visits the Texas Hill Country and you do not live nearby, that means you are on the search for lodging. In the seven years of visiting Texas wineries, you would think we have a “base camp” hotel by now in the Hill Country, but our needs are always changing, hotel availability is always different, and the desired location may change.
To avoid the hustle and bustle of Wine Road 290, visitors may want to opt for visiting wineries off the beaten path. When I first heard about staying in Bee Cave, my mind immediately thought of nearby wineries in Dripping Springs like Solaro Estate, Bell Springs Winery, and Hawk’s Shadow Winery. Also in the area are Westcave Cellars, El Gaucho Winery, Stone House Vineyard, and Spicewood Vineyards. That is just some of the wineries north of 290, but going south will get you into the Driftwood area with wineries such as Fall Creek Vineyards at Driftwood, Duchman Family Winery, Driftwood Estate Winery, and Wimberley Valley Winery. So even though it may not be in the Fredericksburg area, you still are in the Hill Country with plenty of wineries to visit nearby.
After a day I spent visiting wineries, it was time to find the Sonesta Bee Cave Austin hotel and relax. The hotel is easy to find almost at the corner of TX-71 and Bee Cave Road behind the Hill Country Galleria. Parking is conveniently located underneath the hotel in a parking garage so there are no worries about getting wet if it is raining. I took the elevator up one floor to the lobby and also joining me in the elevator were two couples who were heading to the 6th floor where the lounge and small plate eatery Meridian 98 is located. After checking in, I would definitely be heading to the same place for some food and drinks.
Check-in was easy at the gorgeous lobby with a grand piano sitting on one side with chandeliers covering the lobby. I went back into the elevator and discovered this time in order to get to my room’s floor, I needed to use my room key to push the floor’s button. That gave me a little security, since obviously people just go to the Meridian 98 as evidenced by the people I had met earlier in the elevator.
My room was just one of the nicely decorated 195 guest rooms in the hotel. I had my choice of room locations when I checked in, and they said if I hurried, I could see the sunset with my room choice. They also informed me that the Keurig coffee machine was available for use but unfortunately, I do not drink coffee. But I did use the mini-fridge, in-room safe, and would have used the microwave if needed.
I snapped a couple photos of my room and headed out.
I wanted to get to the top floor as fast as possible for a sunset photo, but I first went back to the first floor to see the fitness center, pool, and gift shop available. Snacks, drinks, and personal products you may have forgotten to bring are available for purchase in the lobby.
Now to head to the top floor and Meridian 98 to get something to eat and drink. I was told I could sit anywhere I wanted and someone would be there to help me.
But first, I had to take one photo of the sunset even though it had gotten darker. I could see why it would be great to sit on the outdoors patio to enjoy the view along with a drink. And since it was a great view, I sat down on the patio and planned on enjoying my evening there. But unfortunately, after a minute or so, I decided it was too cold and moved inside. I chose a small table in the lounge.
Since there was no one seating people at tables, I was curious how long it would take to get served. Once I sat down, I started my timer and I didn’t even have to wait one minute for the first server to bring me a menu of cocktails, wines, and small bites. It was a very difficult decision on what to eat because the local sourced farm to fork Texas fare all sounded great! Executive Chef Patrick Norman had chosen some excellent menu items. Some items after the price had “gf” which I eventually had to ask what it meant, and it was gluten free. It would have been handy to have that in the legend at the bottom of the menu.
Even though I had visited wineries during the day, I decided to not get one of the fantastic cocktails offered and instead went for a flight of three wines. These are the three wines I chose in order:
- Col de’ Salici Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2015
- Duchman Trebbiano (on draft) – Hey, it was Texas wine!
- Halter Ranch Synthesis Red Blend 2014 from Paso Robles
On the wine list for Texas wines was also a Fall Creek Chardonnay and Becker Cabernet Sauvignon. After my long decision, Adam came to take my order and he was very responsive during the evening. I asked what the blend was in the Halter Ranch and was told a certain percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petite Sirah. Later in the evening, Adam came back and corrected the percentage with 75% Cab, 23% Syrah, and 2% Malbec. That was a nice decision for him to confirm on the percentage for a customer.
The first food I chose was a Smoked Gulf Shrimp Cocktail with Yucatán sauce, cucumber relish, and avocado. It did not take long at all before the shrimp cocktail was served to me. I love shrimp and this was no exception with definite smokiness to it and a little spiciness. I was glad I chose to start with the Prosecco which helped offset the heat.
I do not usually eat a lot of food, but when I saw crème brûlée on the dessert menu, I had to save room for some. This was a spiced pumpkin crème brûlée which I do not recall having before, but I can safely say that I am a fan of all crème brûlée! I had finished my three wines during my lengthy eating of the shrimp cocktail and ordered a suggested Taylor Fladgate 10 year Tawny Port with the crème brûlée. It was another great choice.
The overall dinner and drinks at the Meridian 98 were excellent and I could see why people come to the hotel just for that.
It was time to call it a night and I headed back to my room. The king size bed was unlike a lot of hotels because it actually had four king size pillows instead of more queen size pillows. The unfortunate thing was I prefer a firm pillow and all four pillows were soft. I had no choice but to give it a try and in the middle of the night after tossing and turning, I eventually learned if I put my head at the end of the pillow, it was firmer than the middle.
I had to leave early for home, but I had to first visit the top floor again to see the view during the daylight and also the breakfast buffet available for purchase. The selection at the buffet seemed good, but the view was great.
For those wanting to stay at a nice hotel in the Hill Country and still be able to visit some great Texas wineries nearby, Sonesta Bee Cave Austin is definitely a recommended hotel.