Nestled in the heart of San Antonio, Hotel Emma is a contemporary testament to industrial chic design. This mid-sized hotel, which takes residence in the iconic 121-year-old Pearl brewhouse, is a sparkling gem in the city’s popular Pearl neighborhood. Once an abandoned brewery shadowed by towering chimney stacks, this urban sanctuary now exudes an inviting Ellis Island-like ambiance, welcoming travelers from all corners of the globe.
The charm of Hotel Emma perfectly complements its location. Situated along the San Antonio River, the Pearl district is a vibrant 20-acre space that has been ingeniously repurposed and revitalized. It is home to the Culinary Institute of America campus, a weekend farmer's market that operates year-round, a delightful assortment of bistros, bakeries, brew pubs, bars, gastropubs, and more, positioning Pearl at the forefront of San Antonio's culinary scene.
The hotel's lobby is adorned with oversized brewery machinery and pipes, complemented by South Texas design elements such as hand-tooled saddle leather wall coverings in elevators, buffalo-hide sofas in the bar, and Redondo Mexican tile floors.
The reception area, with its high ceilings of exposed brick, bare beams, and factory fixtures, exudes a cavernous feel. Off the lobby is Sternewirth, boasting 25-foot ceilings, intimate seating areas, and light fixtures crafted from beer bottling equipment.
A steel staircase leads to a mezzanine level, where giant cast-iron brewing tanks provide banquette seating along one wall. The hotel also houses a library of 3,700 books, further enhancing its sophisticated industrial appeal. Amenities at Hotel Emma include 24-hour room service, a bar, gym, house car, meeting rooms, an outdoor pool, pet-friendly accommodations, restaurants, and a spa.
The hotel is named after Emma Koehler, wife of Pearl Brewery founder Otto Koehler. Interestingly, Otto also had two mistresses who were both named Emma. The New York firm Roman and Williams designed the hotel, seamlessly blending historic and modern elements within the cool industrial framework of the former factory.
The peeling plaster and exposed brick of the hotel evoke images of ancient maps with curling edges, while bespoke furniture and carefully curated vignettes lend a hip, stylized ambience throughout the property.
The hotel's restaurant, Supper, helmed by chef John Brand, is a bistro-meets-farmhouse concept offering fresh, seasonal, greenmarket cuisine, complemented by a robust wine list, craft cocktails, and local microbrews. Its foodie-centric approach matches the neighborhood's vibe while maintaining a casual atmosphere.
Hotel Emma's clubroom/bar, Sternewirth, serves up craft brews, custom cocktails, and wines, alongside casual bites like venison meatballs, beef tartare, and smoked dates with blue cheese and bourbon. New guests are welcomed in the Library with the hotel's signature drink, La Babia Margarita, a straightforward cocktail that pays homage to the Emma's humble origins.
Dining at Supper transports you to a world of classic, elevated American dishes like roasted chicken with market vegetables, smoked duck chowder, and sticky toffee pudding with carrot jam. Guests can easily reach the hotel by hailing a river taxi downtown near the Alamo, strolling along the Museum Reach, hiring a B-Cycle rental bike, or simply catching a cab from the airport.
Guest rooms are designed with high ceilings, black-lacquered beds, rustic tables, leather chairs, and locally sourced art. Bathrooms boast watery blue tile, creamy porcelain fixtures, and soft seersucker guayabera-style robes. Brewhouse Tower rooms showcase exposed brick walls, concrete floors, unique architectural elements, and vintage factory fixtures. Several suites offer terraces, with the Emma Koehler Suite featuring a spacious patio, grand piano, fireplaces, and expansive windows offering river views.
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