Best Renovation (2003)

Magnolia Hotel

While more and more old downtown structures are getting well-deserved restorations, this makeover is much more than skin-deep. The former 1926 Post-Dispatch building had long been an example of urban blight, a boxlike building that was boarded up and hardly worthy of notice for decades. But the Magnolia hotel chain, headquartered in Denver, has turned this ugly duckling into dynamic new lodging -- and given it an exciting new look for all of Houston to enjoy. Foremost for visitors is the ultraposh and sleek lobby, a showcase of wavy walls, luxurious woods and modern furnishings. Don't miss the upstairs billiards and bar area. And taking a lap-pool dip on the roof right across from the stately Christ Church Cathedral is some kind of scenic experience.

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