Best bets for a place to stay in San Antonio

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk
Hotel Valencia
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Best Place for the Trendy to Be Seen: The Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, 150 E. Houston St. (tel. 866/842-0100 or 210/227-9700), hosts Vbar and Citrus, two of the hottest hangouts in town. And flanking the hotel are Acenar and Sip (rhymes with hip), two other top styling spots.

Best Value for Business Travelers: Such features as a location near the convention center and high-speed Internet access in the room make the O'Brien Historic Hotel, 116 Navarro St. (tel. 800/257-6058 or 210/527-1111), convenient for all business travelers, while low rates and perks such as free local phone calls make it especially appealing to those whose companies aren't picking up the tab.

The Best Place to See (or Feel) a Ghost: San Antonio's got plenty of historic hotels -- the kind where haunts tend to linger -- but only The Menger, 204 Alamo Plaza (tel. 800/345-9285 or 210/223-4361), claims to have 32 ghosts. You can take your pick of the spirits you want to sleep with -- or drink with. The bar where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders is in this hotel, too.

Best for Families: If you can afford it, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr. (tel. 800/233-1234 or 210/647-1234), just down the road from SeaWorld, is ideal for a family getaway. Kids get to splash in their own shallow pool, go tubing on a little river, and be entertained in a kids' camp -- and you get to relax in the resort's spa or play a few holes on its expanding golf course.

Best Riverside Bargain: The Drury Inn & Suites, 201 N. St. Mary's St. (tel. 800/DRURY-INN or 210/212-5200), is a good, economical downtown bet located in a historic building right on the river. Breakfast and afternoon cocktails are included in the room rate, and in-room fridges and microwaves mean you can cut down on food costs in this pricey area even further.

Best Budget Lodging: How do I love the savings at the Best Western Sunset Suites, 1103 E. Commerce St. (tel. 866/560-6000 or 210/223-4400)? Let me count the ways: Low room rates, lots of freebies, and a convenient location near downtown, plus very attractive rooms, make staying here a super deal.

Best B&B: The King William area abounds with B&Bs, but the Ogé House, 209 Washington St. (tel. 800/242-2770 or 210/223-2353), stands out as much for its professionalism as for its gorgeous mansion and lovely rooms. New management has added modern amenities such as wi-fi, too. It's hard to beat this mix of the old and the new.

Best One-Stop Lodging: You never have to wander far from the Marriott Rivercenter, 101 Bowie St. (tel. 800/228-9290 or 210/223-1000), what with its excellent health club (on the same floor as the hotel's free washers and dryers, no less); its proximity to the Rivercenter Mall and to water taxis that take you along the River Walk; and its abundant on-site eateries.

Best Place to Spot Celebrities: Everyone from Paula Abdul to ZZ Top (hey, they're big in Texas) has stayed at La Mansión del Río, 112 College St. (tel. 800/292-7300 or 210/518-1000); discretion, a willingness to cater to special requests, and a location that's just slightly away from the action might explain why.

Best for River Views: La Mansión del Río, the Marriott Rivercenter, the Watermark, and the Westin Riverwalk each boast prime watery views from some of their rooms, but if you stay at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio on the River Walk, 123 Losoya St. (tel. 800/233-1234 or 210/222-1234), you can book less expensive atrium-view lodgings and still glimpse a bit of the river running through the lobby.

Best New Hotel: With its top-notch spa and health club, spacious, Zen-chic guest rooms, and excellent service, the Watermark Hotel, 212 W. Crockett St. (tel. 866/605-1212 or 210/396-5800), did what didn't seem possible: made a splash on the crowded high-end River Walk lodging scene.

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