I stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Corpus Christi Beachfront for 3 nights on a quick family vacation in August. I wanted to kick off our school year with a field trip to the Texas State Aquarium and the U.S.S. Lexington and we chose this property because it was the closest major hotel to both attractions. Plus, it had beachfront access and I have Hilton status, so it was a natural choice for our stay.
The hotel was newly updated, the food and beverages were great, the staff was responsive, and our room was comfortable with plenty of space and a good balcony view. My kids were thrilled to see the attractions from our room and I enjoyed staying within walking distance of our major destinations.
But the beach was too full of trash for us to feel comfortable using it — a major error for a beachside hotel. I also had 2 substantial billing issues from my stay.
If it’s critical that you stay right near the Texas State Aquarium or U.S.S. Lexington, the DoubleTree by Hilton Corpus Christi Beachfront is your best bet. But if you’re visiting primarily to enjoy the beach, look elsewhere. And definitely check your bill.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Corpus Christi Beachfront is the closest major hotel to the Texas State Aquarium and the U.S.S. Lexington and one of the few beachfront hotel properties in Corpus Christi.
Texas State Aquarium
I can’t say enough good things about the Texas State Aquarium. We spent 2 entire days there and could have easily filled a third. My kids were huge fans of the aquarium, so much so that we became members even though we live hours away!
We spent our days enjoying the exhibits, touch tanks, stingray feedings, 4D films, dolphin talks, and the splash pad. My kids especially enjoyed the touch tanks, of which there were many! Sharks, stingrays, and even jellyfish tanks were available to us for some serious hands-on learning. Book ahead, and you can feed fish or do a shark encounter.
There’s dining available on every level of the building with elevated fare for a tourist attraction, including solid vegetarian options — I had a great sriracha cashew grain bowl one day. You can even go up to the top floor and dine at Canopy, which offers a great view of the bay.
The U.S.S. Lexington aircraft carrier was similarly a high-quality experience just steps from the DoubleTree by Hilton Corpus Christi Beachfront. We watched a film, did 2 virtual reality experiences, learned about Pearl Harbor, saw Maverick and Goose’s “Top Gun” jet, and so much more on the many levels of the ship. The kids learned how to tie knots and we got a real kick out of the creepy talking mannequins.
We opted for just a day’s visit to the U.S.S. Lexington because we saw nearly everything and were all pretty over it with stairs, wind, and tight compartments by the time we left. That said, the U.S.S. Lexington offers an overnight experience, so maybe the ship will be the next place we stay in Corpus Christi!
Hot Tip: It’s $5 to park at the aquarium and prices for surface lots vary near the U.S.S. Lexington. It took us about 5 minutes to walk to the aquarium and less than that for the U.S.S. Lexington.
The beachfront at the DoubleTree by Hilton Corpus Christi Beachfront was a huge letdown and not even remotely clean enough for us to visit.
However, there are great beaches close by.
Padre Island National Seashore and Rockport Beach are both just around 30 minutes away from Corpus — and both are among the best beaches in Texas. I was tempted to hit the rugged national seashore, but we had to squeeze in our beach visit on the way home and it was 30 minutes away in the wrong direction for us, so we opted for Rockport, which was more along our route back.
I’ve visited Rockport Beach before and enjoyed it, especially how far the shallow water goes out — perfect for visiting the beach with kids. And after being completely grossed out by the hotel’s beach, I was reassured to find out Rockport Beach was the first Texas beach to earn Blue Wave status.
Hot Tip: Beaches earn Blue Wave status by being litter free with handicap accessibility, public restroom facilities, and swimmable waters.
A quick stop by Rockport on the way home wasn’t quite the beachfront hotel experience I’d planned, but it was definitely worth the short detour! The beach was clean, easy to swim with kids, and it wasn’t crowded at all for our early evening visit. We even got to see some jellyfish in the wild to top off all the interactions we had at the aquarium.
Shops and Restaurants
There’s not a whole lot near the DoubleTree by Hilton Corpus Christi Beachfront other than the major attractions of the aquarium and the U.S.S. Lexington. There are 2 beach shops nearby with pretty standard offerings of plentiful t-shirts, sandals, beach gear, Corpus Christi trinkets, and sea shells. We enjoyed the cool shark photo op.
There are a couple of walkable restaurants near the hotel: Pier 99 and Blackbeard’s. Both have similar fare with fried fish, tacos, and burgers. Blackbeard’s is right behind the property, but we ate at Pier 99 on the way back from the aquarium. It’s right next to the U.S.S. Lexington, so it had a nice, though windy, view!
I booked a 2 Queen Large Family Corner Bay View room at a rate of $171 per night — about $527 for the whole stay. I used my Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, which earns 12x points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels and gives me Hilton Honors Gold status at all Hilton properties.
By comparison, award rates for standard rooms with 1 king or 2 queens start around 34,000 points per night, though the larger family room can be 2 to 3 times more costly in points.
Unfortunately, my final bill did not match what was confirmed in my booking and did not apply my Gold status food and beverage credit.
My total price on the booking was $526.87 and we added about $150 in food, beverage, and market charges, $90 of which should have been credited with my Gold status benefit of $15 per adult per night. My final bill should have been about $587. Instead, it came out to $754, which was $167 higher than it should have been.
I contacted Hilton immediately after our stay to get my food and beverage credit applied, which was handled after a 25-minute chat followed by an email directly from the hotel. As I wrote this review, I discovered the remaining $77 discrepancy in my final bill, which I’m still waiting on a resolution of. I’ve been told it’s an issue with the Hilton website not displaying a new county tax — despite taxes being included in my confirmed booking price. This vacation sure feels like a lot of work!
Bottom Line: It was definitely a pain to get the bill corrected and I’m disappointed I had to waste time on it — though I’m happy to have at least some of my money refunded. So far, I haven’t been offered anything for my trouble other than the food and beverage credit refund.
While I ran into snags with my bill, the points I earned were flawless.
I enrolled in a triple points bonus when you stay 3 or more nights, and I got an additional bonus as a Gold elite member, so I racked up about 32 points per dollar spent on this stay. I’ve redeemed standard room rewards around 50,000 points per night before, so if I can do that again, my ~24,000 points earning is almost halfway to a free night!
That doesn’t include my 12x points bonus I’ll get when my Hilton Surpass card statement closes. That will bring my earn rate to more like 44x overall!
We checked in late around 11 p.m. just as one of the front desk staff left, leaving a single night desk agent on his own.
The front desk agent had a hard time finding our stay, even though I booked directly, but he was welcoming and succeeded in getting us our keys and directing us to the room. He didn’t mention any Gold elite benefits such as a room upgrade or food and beverage credit. I was ready to hit the pillow, so I didn’t bother asking until the next morning.
There’s not much in the way of elite benefits for Gold members at DoubleTree properties, but I think I got both of the benefits available on this stay:
- Upgrades to Preferred Rooms: It’s unclear whether we were upgraded, but it was a great room.
- Food and Beverage Credit ($15 per Adult per Night): This was applied as a refund after I asked for it.
We got what I considered one of the best rooms in the hotel: a high-floor corner balcony. We were on the side farthest from the pool and U.S.S. Lexington. The pool side might be considered better, but I’m glad we were on the quiet side of the property away from the noise.
The first morning, I stopped by the front desk to confirm my benefits. Specifically, I wanted to confirm my $15 per adult food and beverage credit — and wanted to know if it would apply at the market and poolside bar, as well as the restaurant. It took a while, but the front desk confirmed I’d get a $30 nightly credit ($15 for both adults) and it could be used at the restaurant, poolside bar, and market.
The lobby had high ceilings and looked like it got a thorough facelift in the hotel’s recent renovations. The murals and light-up front desk were great touches.
Everything was color coordinated with lots of oranges, blues, greens, and grays. The furniture looked new and clean — and there were a lot of open seating areas.
The hotel was under construction during our visit, but the work zone around the elevator was gone by the second day of our stay. There was a second-floor overlook that used to have an arcade attached, but the room was damaged during a hurricane and the arcade hasn’t been revived.
From the front door, the front desk was to the left, the beach was straight back, and the restaurant and bar, followed by the pool, were to the right.
The beach was trash. And by that, I mean actual trash. A lifelong Texan, I know Texas Gulf Coast water is usually brown from high levels of sediment, which I can accept. It tends to get better the further south along the Texas coast you go, and Corpus is pretty far south, though I was still not expecting crystal blue waters or white sandy shores.
What we found was far worse than I expected, so much so that we didn’t even really touch the sand except for what was on the sidewalk as we walked to the attractions. And we completely dashed plans to hit the beach.
Pretty disappointing considering we picked Corpus Christi and this beachfront hotel for a beach vacation. We chose this over Galveston Beach, which is much closer to us and has endless attractions.
Since we drove in late at night, we went straight up to our room and it wasn’t until morning that I woke up early to explore the beach. What I found turned my stomach: a line of trash at the shoreline as far as I could see. The trash wasn’t apparent from our balcony, but it was jarring once I stepped out onto the sand.
The irony wasn’t lost on me that at the aquarium practically next door, teams rehabilitate wildlife in distress from getting caught in the same kind of trash that was right out the back door of our hotel. I felt compelled to get my family to do a little beach cleanup project but chickened out because I was concerned about what the kids might pick up and we didn’t have gloves or trash bags.
As I walked the first morning, a city worker arrived on a golf cart to pick up trash with a grabber and a second one later joined him … a promising sign. We saw this maintenance happen every morning, yet somehow, the beach was full of garbage every day.
The signs posted at the stairs that led to the beach pushed beach maintenance responsibility to the city of Corpus Christi. While beach maintenance may fall on the city, I would expect a Hilton-branded beachfront hotel to pick up the slack if municipal efforts fall short.
In the 3 days we were there, the beach never got fully cleaned up or even close to it. Even if it had been cleared in time for us to enjoy it, there was no way to unsee the absolute garbage I witnessed every day.
Bottom Line: If you’re planning to hit the beach here, adjust your plans. Better beaches such as Padre Island National Seashore and Rockport Beach are short drives away.
There was a small beach rental area with Jet Skis, canopies, and chairs. It boggled my mind to see people actually renting these and using the beach. Each time we saw people on the beach, we thought maybe it was cleaned up. It was not — they were just in the water and sand ignoring the trash.
Just past the restaurant was the exit to the pool. At the door, there was a spot to pick up or drop off towels, which were always well stocked when we walked by.
The pool, while enjoyable, felt pretty small. It was similar in size to a residential pool, which made it feel pretty packed even on our weeknight visit — but to its credit, there was a swim-up bar with an attentive bartender.
Wi-Fi speeds weren’t impressive at around 13 Mbps, but we didn’t need a good connection.
Next to the elevators was the fitness center, which was available 24 hours a day.
The cardio equipment was pretty standard with a few treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes.
The bikes were both Pelotons.
There was a bench and free weights.
The fitness center also had some resistance equipment.
Rounding out the fitness center equipment was a water station, various kettlebells, medicine balls, and a balance ball.
The business center was in the lobby across from the front desk in a seating area adjacent to the restaurant and bar. But there wasn’t much to it.
Just pop around the corner and tada, a printer. That was it for the business center. But I guess a printer is typically the most you might need at this beachside hotel.
Parking was free and I was easily able to find a parallel parking spot close to the front door. Even when we left to grab some items from a nearby store, the same spot was available when we got back.
We stayed in room 504, which had 2 queen beds and was on a corner with a view of the bay from both angles of the balcony.
Our door was not completely latched when we arrived. I did a quick check for potential murderers in the bathroom, closet, and under the furniture — all clear. We were careful to check that the door closed properly every time we used it, as we noticed other rooms in the hotel had the same latching issue.
Walking into the room, we immediately turned a corner with the closet to the left, the bedroom straight ahead, and the kitchen and bathroom to the right.
The closet was a good size for this room and conveniently placed for grabbing bags on the way out the door.
Our family of 5 fit in this room comfortably with 2 kids on a bed and another on the lounger.
At the foot of the bed were the dresser, TV, reading area, and luggage rack.
I liked that the luggage rack was solid furniture, not a folding rack of questionable balance like a lot of other hotel rooms. The rack was great for clutter control, as it gave my kids a good surface to land toys and backpacks and place shoes underneath.
The TV was on a stand, though the wall mount bracket was visible behind it.
Everyone wanted this blue chair for some reason. I think we all propped our feet up here at some point!
The beds were plenty comfortable and we slept well on them.
Between the beds was a nightstand with a light fixture, an outlet with both regular electrical and USB plugs, and an alarm clock with a charging surface.
My oldest slept on this lounger between the beds and the balcony.
We were able to make up a comfy bed on the lounger with an extra comforter and sheets.
The dresser had some shelving and a few drawers.
Between the bedroom and bathroom was a small kitchen area with a refrigerator, microwave, sink, coffee maker, and under-sink cabinet. This area came in really handy for my snack-inhaling kids and made it easy to throw together some quick hotel room breakfasts.
Like practically every hotel refrigerator I’ve encountered, this fridge seemed to run a little warm. But nothing spoiled and frozen items stayed frozen, so it worked well enough.
We didn’t try the in-room coffee, as there was free fresh brew at the bar each morning.
Hot Tip: You don’t need to make coffee in your room. Just head down to the bar where self-serve coffee is free.
The bathroom seemed newly renovated. There was a gleaming quartz counter and a backlit mirror.
Next to the sink was a refillable body lotion.
The amenities were primarily Crabtree & Evelyn.
The shower also seemed new, though some of the grout work at the bottom wasn’t perfect and the shower pan already seemed to have some stains. Only the left side of the shower doors moved, so we had to step into the shower to turn it on.
Reusable amenity bottles were in the shower, too. Note the stray hair on the conditioner left behind by another guest and not cleaned up before our arrival. I appreciate the conservation aspect of refillable bottles but seeing a stray hair reminded me that these probably don’t get a thorough cleaning in between guests, so I wiped them down myself.
I think most, if not all, rooms at the hotel had a bay view, but being on a corner definitely elevated our view because we could see 2 sides. Wide open waters and sunrises were on the left, the U.S.S. Lexington and the aquarium to the right!
The U.S.S. Lexington lit up at night, which was really cool to see.
The table on the balcony was heavy and well built, but the chairs were pretty flimsy.
Hot Tip: Try to get a corner room to expand your balcony view across Corpus Christi Bay.
Reading reviews ahead of our visit, I was expecting some construction as the DoubleTree transitioned from its former life as a Radisson. The construction seemed like it was almost complete and a lot of it already looked great. It really wasn’t a bother being there for construction. The biggest impact for us was only having a single elevator which got too full to get on now and then, but the second elevator seemed nearly operational by the time we left.
Food and Beverage
The DoubleTree by Hilton Corpus Christi Beachfront had a restaurant and bar, poolside bar, and front desk market available. We tried all 3 and enjoyed all of them.
We took advantage of the free coffee and chilled water at the bar. It was convenient to grab a drink on the way to or from the beach, pool, or nearby attractions.
There was a counter around the corner from the bar that looked like it was or will be for buffet service, but it just held condiments during our visit.
The breakfast menu seemed a little abbreviated, but we all found something we enjoyed.
After a late night arrival, we slept in on the first day and woke up starving, so we opted to start off with a hot brunch in the hotel’s restaurant.
We seated ourselves and were greeted promptly by the bartender, then our food and drink orders were taken right away by a server. I didn’t think to track the time, but while we waited for our food, 2 tables next to us left with a bit of a fuss. The first left with a complaint about how long the food took, though they had plates arrive, and the second left after a server explained their food order would take about 45 minutes to come out. The staff explained the kitchen had just 1 chef working that morning.
We didn’t mind the wait, as we got the kids entertained with a video and planned our day — and the restaurant got a lot quieter after the other tables cleared. The bartender brought us a couple of large mimosas to thank us for our patience and our food came out hot shortly after that.
Breakfast totally hit the spot. I had a veggie-packed omelet with toast and hash, my husband had the harbor sandwich, and the kids all had pancakes. It was delicious and we cleaned our plates!
Our bill was about $80 including tip — honestly, not bad at all these days for a party of 5. It was too steep in price and time commitment for me to want breakfast there each day, but we enjoyed our meal. The other 2 mornings, we had low-key cereal and fruit breakfasts in our room that got us out the door quickly.
Bottom Line: Breakfast at the on-site restaurant was worth the wait, but not for a daily visit.
Next to the front desk was the grab-and-go market, which mostly had food, including frozen and refrigerated items and shelf snacks. There were also essentials you might need such as pain relievers and toothbrushes.
Some of the refrigerated shelves were sparse, but my kids were thrilled to shop here regardless. The novelty of a hotel market! The only thing they wanted in the fridge was Lunchables, and there were plenty of those.
Prices were fairly reasonable for a hotel market. We paid around $2 to $3 per item (mostly snacks).
We got a couple of drinks at the poolside bar, which had a full selection of liquors. I didn’t see a menu, so we got a pretty standard gin and tonic and margarita on the rocks. The bartender played music and took requests, and was quick to come out to collect orders if anyone stopped by the swim side of the bar.
The staff we interacted with were welcoming and attentive, and in some cases exceeded expectations (for example, the free mimosas we got at brunch and a set of fresh sheets delivered to our room just moments after we asked for them). While some staff seemed unsure about details, they kept their attention on any questions or requests and figured it out to take care of us.
Though the beach trash really bothered me, I didn’t mention it to any hotel staff — given the defensive sign informing guests that the city (not the hotel) maintains the beach, I am certain they are well aware of it. I didn’t care to waste my time on vacation complaining about an issue that doesn’t seem to have an immediate resolution.
While we had a good experience with the staff onsite, the service took a nosedive when I had to fix my bill. I didn’t enjoy having to confirm benefits and credits, and it was especially a buzzkill to have to spend time hunting down not 1 but 2 corrections to my bill — and it’s still not completely resolved.
Would I stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Corpus Christi Beachfront again? I could be convinced, as despite its flaws I think it’s among the better hotels in Corpus and the location is perfect for visiting attractions. Maybe the property will get the beach cleaned up by the time we return. But I’ll definitely consider other hotels before I book another stay and I certainly wouldn’t bother hauling any beach gear up to our room again.
The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.