Texas Cool

by Rona Berg
Hotel Emma

When it opened in 2015, Hotel Emma quickly became the cool kid in San Antonio, Texas. And it still is.

A former 19th century brewery, the 146-room luxury hotel (and member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Legend Collection) is named after Emma Koehler, wife of Pearl Brewery founder Otto Koehler. She managed not only to keep it going after his death, but turned it into a highly profitable enterprise. Hotel Emma retains many original architectural details from the brewery—mosaic tiling, copper piping, original fermenting vessels in the Elephant Cellar, an event venue; glass bottles left behind from the distillery days that upcycled into custom-made chandeliers—and create an eclectic, old-world, industrial aesthetic with plenty of Texas flair.

Hotel Emma is the cornerstone of Pearl, a 22-acre, mixed-use development project north of downtown San Antonio that brought a new  flavor to the city. Pearl attracts a hip crowd with its open green spaces and tables for outdoor dining, an amphitheater, and an ever-expanding range of international restaurants, bars, retail shops and cafes, including delicious French comfort food at Brasserie Mon Chou Chou, Jamaican roti at Mi Roti, Japanese ramen at Tenko Ramen, Mexican street food by renowned chef Johnny Hernandez, at La Gloria, and more.

The Hotel also features Larder, a place to buy local groceries; Sternewirth, a buzzy bar that draws hotel guests and locals with its 25-foot vaulted ceiling, and comfy couches, easy chairs and banquettes; and Supper, a farm-to-table Southwestern hotspot. A beautiful retail shop showcases the work of local artists and artisans, of which there are plenty in this history-laden, soulful and spirited city.

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