The prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Awards are back — and honoring San Antonio in a big way.
For 33 years, the stalwart publication has honored the best in hospitality and travel by asking experts (aka their readers) for their picks and insider tips. Beginning in April 2020 through June 2020, Conde Nast Traveler received ballots from more than 715,000 people in categories ranging from best European hotel to toniest Caribbean resort.
The winners were revealed on October 6, and readers selected San Antonio as the No. 5 Best Big City in the U.S., beating out New York City and San Diego in the rankings. Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Boston; and New Orleans round out the top five.
The Alamo City ranks five spots higher than last year, and was once again the only Texas town to take home an award in either the big city or small city categories.
While the magazine praises standard San Antonio attractions — the River Walk, the missions, et al — it also spotlights gems like Lulu's chicken-fried steak and the Japanese Tea Garden in Brackenridge Park, arguably lesser known to a national audience.
“San Antonio’s warm and welcoming environment and commitment to the health and safety of our visitors and residents continues to shine through these tough times,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio, in a release. “We’re honored that Condé Nast Traveler’s readers continue to enjoy and recognize San Antonio as a top city in the country, even upgrading us to the top 5 in 2020.”
A handful of San Antonio hotels also landed in the Reader's Choice Awards. Hotel Valencia Riverwalk was named the No. 4 best hotel in Texas and took the top spot in San Antonio, robbing Hotel Emma of her crown (it took the No. 7 spot in Texas, second in the Alamo City).
“We are thrilled to be recognized by discerning travelers for these prestigious honors,” said Hotel Valencia Riverwalk's general manager, Trent Freeman. “During a year of extraordinary strife in the hospitality industry, these awards confirm our commitment to providing luxurious accommodations while also going above and beyond to prioritize the health and safety of our guests and employees. The Condé Nast rankings reinforce the appeal of our dedication to ‘Timeless Hospitality’ and support our commitment to providing our guests with a keen sense of place, thoughtful amenities, timeless design and attentive service.”