Houston has more than 80,000 hotel rooms—roughly 8,000 of them downtown—but only one made me feel like I could live there forever. That would be the Lyric Creative Suite, and it's not really a hotel, anyway.
Lyric, a San Francisco-based hospitality start-up that counts Airbnb as a lead investor, runs short-term rental properties in the form of one- to four-bedroom apartment suites in eight cities across the country, from Philly to Houston. Here, Lyric partnered with the Catalyst, one of downtown's newest luxury high-rises, to transform the entire 18th floor into what it calls its Creative Suites.
Starting at $100/night (for a one-bed, one-bath suite), you can stay in what feels like your coolest friend's apartment—ultra-modern, minimalist design guaranteed to elevate your Instagram feed—that runs like your standard hotel room. The apartment's 24-hour concierge functions like a front-desk, which gives you initial access to the resident-only elevators. Similar to Airbnb self check-in, a private code unlocks your keypad-controlled suite, where fobs for front door and elevator access await.
The business model is similar to that of co-working spaces like WeWork, with Lyric's profit derived from the difference between what it charges guests and what it pays a place like the Catalyst in rent. Anyone can book a suite, but Lyric is marketed in part to extended-stay travelers who frequent cities like Houston for business. There's a minimum two-night stay; Forbes reports the current record in a Lyric suite is 304 nights.
I was ready to stay 305 nights as soon as I stepped foot into my two-bed, two-bath corner suite on a recent Friday evening. Alas, I had but three nights to make use of the beautifully appointed space. All employ a Nordic-style minimalist vibe, but each city's suites look different, with Lyric's in-house design team drawing inspiration from various local features. For Houston, that was—somewhat surprisingly—"the city's beautiful parks and green spaces," Lyric materials said. That translated most obviously to the rich, jewel-toned bedrooms with relaxing accent walls in custom coverings.
The rest of the space is just as lust-worthy thanks to modern fixtures, furniture that would be at home in a West Elm showroom, and atmospheric abstract art by local photographer Aisha Khan. Luxury, hotel-like upgrades include Malin + Goetz toiletries, Frette linens, Nest thermostats, and Casper mattresses—the latter equal parts trendy and unbelievably comfortable.
There are local touches, too, like a curated vinyl selection—ZZ Top, Arcade Fire, and Wild Moccasins all present and accounted for—and Java Pura coffee for use in the Fellow Pourover system.
A word about that kitchen—it's spectacular, and fully stocked. I felt compelled to take advantage of my short time with an abundance of counter space and appliances from the last decade, but, true to form, I ended up ordering fried chicken and chocolate chess pie from Gus's on Uber Eats.
The views, at least from my unit, must also be celebrated. At night, when temperatures mercifully dipped below 100 degrees, the balcony was the place to be for a "bright lights, big city" moment. By day, one could see the entirety of Minute Maid—practically steps away—jumbotron and all. Of course, the Astros were away all weekend.
But no matter, with all of downtown at your disposal—no Lyft required. Would I catch a show at nearby House of Blues, finally eat at Finn Hall, or at least drink my way through the neighborhood? Reader, I had three full days to do any—nay, all—of that, and more. But once again, true to form, I opted for an alternative. Lyric suites also come equipped with a very comfortable couch and a large-screen television with Netflix capability. And, as luck would have it, Mindhunter season two premiered the very day I arrived.