"Welcome to Hotel Emma, a delectably unique 146-room hotel with seven top-floor suites, a handsome bar and club room, an excellent restaurant, a purveyor of fine foods, and public spaces reminiscent of fine old hotels in far-flung locales. Comfortable and unconventional, the hotel’s historical ambiance proclaims a new standard of South Texas luxury and geniality."
The Pearl Brewery complex has undergone revitalization for years, and the majestic Hotel Emma is finally open for business. Named in honor of Emma Koehler, the woman who ran the brewery after her husband (and Pearl president) died in 1914, I can't imagine a more fitting namesake.
"She was an ingenious CEO who kept the brewery going during Prohibition by converting operations to dry cleaning and auto repair, and making near beer, ice cream and soda. While other breweries were shutting down, Emma kept her entire workforce employed."
The industrial-chic property combines much of the original architecture and equipment with cozy sitting areas and an abundance of fresh floral arrangements scattered about.
You're greeted with a fresh margarita and led to your room where even more surprises await.
At night, the property is transformed into the most enchanting place with candles and twinkling lights.
Supper is one of the restaurants at Hotel Emma, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All of the dishes are fresh and unique, and it is simple to order gluten free.
Left to right: salt and vinegar brussel sprouts (gf) // honeycrisp apple and parsnip soup // toasted cauliflower with green lentils and sauce romesco (gf) // smoked crispy quail, pickled corn relish and gold potato puree // venison loin with juniper parsnip mousse and blueberry mustard (gf) // maple and burnt sugar panna cotta, sweet potato sorbet, chocolate cake, Oaxacan sea salt // bitter chocolate ganache, banana creme, black cocoa, cashew (gf)
Each morning, coffee service and fresh pastries are offered in the lobby. The taste of Chemex-made coffee is divine, and they offer three different types of milks (including dulce de leche). I had to leave at 6 am one morning, and the person who answered my valet request made me a fresh cup to grab on my way out. It's that kind of attentive service that makes a place really special in my opinion.
There are countless beautiful spaces around the hotel to enjoy your coffee and read the newspaper. Or it you're an MBA student, finish your accounting final.
The Hotel Emma library is housed in one of the Brewhouse's vaulted rooms. In it, you'll find the 3,700-volume library of Sherry Kafka Wagner, a San Antonio icon, novelist, historian, Harvard Fellow, and cultural anthropologist.
Supper for breakfast is a must.
It was my favorite breakfast to date. Chef John Brand won't advertise the pancakes as gluten free because he says nobody will order them. So if you're gluten free, know that you can eat here, and it is delicious!
Fresh carrot and ginger lemonade // meyer lemon ricotta pancakes with pine nuts and raspberries (gf) // poached egg on avocado, tomato provencal and arugula (gf)
And before you go, stop by Curio, a carefully curated and edited selection of treasures, as well as Larder, a South Texas food store where you can stock up on life's culinary luxuries. The hot chocolate is pure bliss, and I suggest getting the fried egg sandwich with bacon, tomato, and avocado to go...for your road trip home. They'll even wrap it up tightly in wax paper like grandma used to do.
A place unlike anywhere else, go and experience South Texas luxury.
Photography: Christie McMillan
Sponsored by: Hotel Emma