It’s difficult to find a worthy bargain hotel in downtown San Antonio , but there are a few options that offer basic amenities. Be forewarned: These spots tend to be pretty noisy due to freeway traffic, trains, and the abundance of children. Regardless, the best of the bunch is Red Roof Inn (1011 E. Houston St., 210/229-9973, www.redroof.com , $99 d), about a 10-minute walk (under the freeway) from Alamo Plaza. The hotel offers Internet access in all rooms, a “coffeehouse-style” breakfast with muffins and granola bars, and an outdoor pool.
Within a mile of the River Walk  are two other budget options that feature prime locations more than top-notch amenities and service. They are Days Inn Downtown (1500 S. I-35, exit 154B, 210/271-3334, www.dayssanantonio.com , $79 d), including a free breakfast, outdoor pool, and free wireless Internet access.
The other is Microtel Inn & Suites (1025 Frio St., 800/771-7171, www.microtelinn.com , $79 d), offering free continental breakfast, complimentary wireless Internet access, and a heated outdoor pool.
If you’re planning to stay downtown, you may as well be in a hotel directly on the River Walk , where all the activity is merely a step away from the hotel lobby. Fortunately, there are several moderately priced options offering reliable service and clean, compact rooms.
A longtime family favorite is Holiday Inn (217 N. St. Mary’s St., 210/224-2500, www.holidayinn.com , $139 d), located smack-dab in the middle of the action. The hotel has a small yet comfortable heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, an exercise facility, and onsite parking.
A nicer alternative is the towering Crowne Plaza Hotel (111 Pecan St. East, 210/354-2800, www.ichotelsgroup.com , $144 d), offering Internet access in all rooms, a rooftop pool, sauna, whirlpool, and full fitness center.
Most of the River Walk  hotels fall in this price range, although it’s worth checking the discount travel websites since many of the following recommended locations are often available for $30–40 less.
For those who like a little touch of home with their hotel experience, consider the fully equipped kitchen suites at Residence Inn (425 Bonham St., 210/212-5555, www.marriott.com , $179 d). Located near the Alamo , the hotel also offers a free breakfast buffet in the morning and a weekday special (5–7 p.m.) providing complimentary beverages and a light dinner.
Another nice option in the middle of all the action is the Drury Plaza Hotel (105 S. St. Mary’s St., 210/270-7799, www.druryhotels.com , $184 d). Located in the stately 24-story Alamo Bank Building, the hotel covers an entire city block and retains much of its 1929 elegance and style (lofty ceilings, travertine flooring, chandeliers, and stained glass windows) along with its legendary rooftop weather spire. The Drury offers free wireless Internet service in all rooms, a limited breakfast service with coffee and muffins, free beverages from 5:30–7 p.m. daily, and an outdoor rooftop whirlpool and swimming pool, billed as the highest swimming pool in San Antonio .
A little bit further up the luxury ladder is Homewood Suites (432 W. Market St., 210/222-1515, www.homewoodsuitesriverwalk.com , $197 d). This prime location is ideal for those traveling with kids, since it includes fully equipped kitchens for snack storage and storing/reheating leftovers, separate living and sleeping rooms to facilitate earlier bedtimes, plus Internet access in all rooms and a free hot breakfast every morning.
A consistently reliable and oft-recommended option is the welcoming Westin (420 W. Market St., 210/224-6500, www.starwoodhotels.com , $209 d), which distinguishes itself from other chain options on the River Walk by showcasing the region’s Latin-American culture. Guests are greeted with Venezuelan specialty chocolates, and a traditional la merienda (“high tea”) features roasted Mexican coffees, hot cocoas, aguas frescas, and Mexican cookies in the lobby (3:30–5:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat.). A guitarist performs Spanish classical music on weekends. The rooms are inviting, too, with historic Texas décor, big comfy beds, marble bathrooms, and views of the river and city. The Westin also features an outdoor heated pool, a fitness center, and sauna.
One of the city’s most distinctive and classy locations is the stylish Hotel Valencia (150 E. Houston St., 210/227-9700, www.hotelvalencia.com , $219 d). This 213-room contemporary luxury hotel bills itself as “classic meets hip” and rightfully so. Corridors and rooms are shadowy (if too dark at times) with dramatic lighting and trendy detailing. Guests won’t want to leave their rooms thanks to the exceptional city views, minibars, free Internet access, and luxurious linens; even the bathrooms are welcoming, with their classic bathtubs and waffle-weave robes. Another bonus: The Valencia is at the end of the River Walk , so crowd noise isn’t much of an issue. This is a good romantic spot for couples, but probably not the best option for families looking for a fun getaway.
A popular mainstream option is the Hyatt Regency (123 Losoya St., 210/222-1234, www.sanantonioregency.hyatt.com , $219 d). Located at the gateway to the River Walk just a block away from the Alamo , the Hyatt is a modestly sized hotel with a 16-story atrium and rooftop terrace offering an outdoor swimming pool, spa, and adjoining 2,800-square-foot health club. Rooms are decked out in Southwestern-style décor and include a fridge, microwave, and Wi-Fi access. The hotel also has a swingin’ jazz club on the riverbank with cool outdoor seating.
Another clean, reliable, amenity-filled choice is AmeriSuites (601 S. St. Mary’s St., 210/227-6854, www.amerisuites.com , $229 d), located downtown on the San Antonio River, but not in the thick of the River Walk  activity. The rooms here are fairly large, and feature microwaves, refrigerators, a separate workspace, and free wireless Internet access. The hotel also offers a free hot breakfast buffet, a outdoor heated swimming pool, and free parking (a bonus for a downtown establishment).