Cruising down Westheimer as the sun sets, bass bumping to a Travis Scott song, I envision myself in a music video. Lanky palms, their trunks wrapped in lights, twinkle outside my window. I might have been in a 2014 Toyota Corolla, but in my mind, I was shotgun in a Mercedes S-Class.
All that is to say I’m feeling pretty good when I roll up to Hotel Derek, the boutique lodging sandwiched between the Galleria and River Oaks District. Its major claim to fame, at least in my world, is being the preferred accommodations for Drake, my soulmate who moonlights as a superstar rapper. I’m feeling even better when, upon check-in, I am handed the keys to the penthouse suite.
The 1,200-square-foot residence, which goes for somewhere around $2,000 a night, was “designed with the business elite and Hollywood royalty in mind,” Hotel Derek says, which in my mind reads as, “These are Drake’s digs.” I feel practically weightless as I make my way to the 15th floor, confident in the knowledge that I’m literally following in his footsteps. My ears pop in the elevator. “That’s penthouse money,” I say to the friend who’s accompanied me. This is the lifestyle I was destined for.
Once we’ve made our ascent, we wander down to the end of the corridor. I approach one of the suite’s two entrances, making a mental note for later in case I need to sneak Drake in away from the prying eyes of the ruthless paparazzi. The heavy double doors swing open, and I’m greeted by a massive entryway and living room, immediately struck by the floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views of uptown (and, as it were, of 610).
There’s another set of those in the bedroom, where one can gaze pensively from a modern chaise or from the platform-style king bed. Then there’s the master bath, a wonder to behold with its Gilchrest & Soames amenities, including two sinks, a toilet and bidet, and an enormous shower that could easily accommodate all six Friends. There are two TVs (one a 52-inch flat screen), a giant sectional, a kitchenette, a dining table for six (a post-shower meal for the Friends), and a separate bathroom with another (standard-sized) shower. An oversized, magnetic Scrabble board is wall-mounted a few steps away from a 46-square-foot private balcony that offers another vantage point of the city. The whole suite, larger than my two-bedroom apartment, must prove an exceptional space for Drake to turn up with a posse post-show. Other stars have stayed here, too–even Beyoncé–but none matter to me quite so much. The staff assures me Drake is very nice, which surprises me exactly zero percent.
We decide to check out the pool before dinner, an excuse to don the new beachwear we purchased on the way here. Who knows what hip-hop stars we’ll run into, after all.
The pool is empty, though, because it’s a Monday night in early May. Refusing to let that cramp our style, we launch into a full-on photoshoot that lasts well into the dark. We decide to put Apple’s waterproof claim to the test and carry my friend’s iPhone into the pool. The light, which cycles through a rainbow of fluorescent colors, is too good to pass up. The green, we quickly learn, is most flattering.
“Hurry up, hurry up, the green is coming!” my friend squeals, preparing to vogue.
Again and again this repeats as the water changes from watermelon pink to icy turquoise and we alternate between smiling and not. We eventually depart the pool area, branded as “SPLASH,” and promise to return this summer for the “Float and Flick” film series where $25 grants swimming rights for two, cocktails and snacks, and a classic movie screened on the giant pool wall.
Having worked up an appetite, we venture into Revolve Kitchen and Bar in hopes of observing the scene. Turns out there’s not much of one on Monday, just three identical looking men belly up to the bar, eyes downcast at their phones and nursing drinks. “I would never do that on my work computer,” someone declares from the opposite end.
Slightly crestfallen, we order spicy Moscow mules, chips and queso, and hickory smoked chicken wings. I think about how Drake might have sat right here, sipping Hennessy. I wish he was here now.
Later, back in the elevator, it feels deliciously good to press “15,” even though my ears have acclimated to the altitude change at this point. Determined to make our own fun, we promptly settle on our first order of business: changing into the hotel’s robes. Both are large and long, but one is black while the other boasts Derek’s trademark brown-and-white cow print. I reach for the black one.
“No,” my friend says. “I am not going to be the cow.”
“Well I don’t want to be the cow!” I cry, at which point, unbeknownst to me, my friend takes advantage of the hotel’s text message concierge service and requests a second black robe be delivered to our suite.
“That is completely ridiculous,” I scold him. By the time the second black robe arrives, he’s decided the cow print option is, in fact, more comfortable anyway.
We admire the view, which becomes much more striking at night, and ponder ordering a movie as we pop a bottle of champagne. It’s getting late, though, and my night has been more about winding down than turning up. I’m ashamed to report that, despite our best efforts, we can’t stay awake long enough to finish the champagne, now floating in a bucket of melted ice.
It’s time to turn in, so I hop into the all-white linens in the king-sized bed, taking solace in the fact that Drake has surely rested his head on this very pillow. Once more, I wish he was here. The next morning, I leave with one of Hotel Derek’s smartly branded, ultra-comfy tank tops that says “Drake for president.” Turning in my penthouse key is a bittersweet moment, but I know I’ll be back. Drake is in town for two nights in September, and I’ve got tickets. Lucky for me, I know where he stays.