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The Hotel Emma Where Industrial Meets Luxury

We had to go to Texas on business a few weeks ago.  We decided we would make the Hotel Emma, San Antonio our home base and travel to our meetings. What a fabulous idea that was.

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Those of you that are regular readers know that I love anything vintage, repurposed, and creatively restored with respect to its roots.  The Hotel Emma is all that and much more. The Emma was originally Pearl’s Brewhouse.  It was built in 1894 and has been a San Antonio landmark ever since. In 2002, Silver Ventures purchased the property. They began the painstaking renovation and “adaptive reuse process that has created today’s Pearl, a vibrant culinary and cultural village” The hotel is named in honor of Emma Koehler.  Emma ran the brewery after her husband and Pearl president Otto Koehler died in 1914. She was a resourceful 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 closing down, Emma kept her entire workforce employed.

The Hotel Emma was designed by Roman and Williams a New York Architecture firm known for their passionate approach to historic architecture.  They were careful to balance the past and the future with a curated collection of industrial elements from the buildings past and modern amenities.

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This gorgeous patio area was a welcome sight upon our late evening arrival, courtesy of Frontier Airlines. We were seven hours late.

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Upon entering guests are welcomed into a” rough luxe style lobby” filled with repurposed Industrial Elements from the brewery’s past.

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The library off the main lobby serves as a welcoming spot for arriving guests where they are served complimentary margaritas upon arrival.  Complimentary coffee and small bites from the in-house larder are served here each morning as well.

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Also off the main lobby is Sternwirth, a lively bar that serves as a hub of activity for the Pearl District.

Here you will find the most coveted spot for a drink, the brew tanks converted into seating areas.

We normally don’t eat “hotel food” when we are traveling but we found ourselves coming back to Supper for the farm to table fare

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and the beautiful view of the adjacent River

Also on the grounds of Hotel Emma is Larder (if you are from California think the Oakille Grocery meets the Ferry Building). Located in the old fermenting cellars, LARDER carries groceries, local artisnal products,wine, beer, baked goods, flowers, and freshly-prepared foods to eat in or take out. We grabbed a coffee and a pastry one of the days of our stay.

We stayed in one of the Brewhouse Rooms. This is the gorgeous rug in the hall leading up to our room.  No detail was left to chance.

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We booked a queen but were immediately upgraded to a King upon arrival.  The integrity of the structure wasn’t lost on the rooms either.

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The bathrooms are outfitted with handmade blue and white tiles respective of the period, seersucker robes, and Goetz toiletries.

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If the Hotel Emma is the look you are wanting in your own home, check out these Pottery Barn finds.

You can shop these items and more of my “Emma Look” favorites at the bottom of this post.

If you are in the San Antonio area I would highly recommend staying at the Hotel Emma.  The surrounding Pearl District with its artisan eateries and boutique shops will leave you inspired and energized.  I will do a separate post on that soon.

I would like to thank my friends Joni from Cote de Texas and Carla Aston (Carla Aston Designed) for introducing me to the Hotel Emma.  You can read Joni’s post The Pearl’s Hotel Emma, and Carla’s post Must See Hotel Emma for their spin on this incredible Hotel.  The Hotel Emma has received many honors since it opened including “Best New Hotels in the World” by Travel and Leisure, Hotel Emma was named a “splendid new city hotel” and added to the list of “favorite hotels of the year” in a new Andrew Harper list.  Conde Nast Traveler named the property one of the “50 Best Hotels in the World.” in 2016.  The list goes on and on.

To book a room at the Hotel Emma, or just learn more about this incredible property, check out the Hotel Emma’s website.


Reader Interactions


  1. home before dark says

    I remember reading about Hotel Emma on Joni’s blog and thinking it was a bit outside her wheelhouse but I loved that she thought it was sensational. I have been a Roman and Williams fan for a long time (the kitchen in Practical Magic made me swoon and did inform my kitchen remodel a bit). They have a great book, BTW. San Antonio is on my list. Did you have any great Mexican food?

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      I am going to check out that kitchen and the book thank you! We did not eat Mexican food that is something we have in abundance here (love it). I was surprised at how great the food was right in the Pearl District (another post coming soon). I have spent a fair amount of time in Texas and have never had such great food. Do love their bbq though! You always enlighten me!

  2. Karen B. says

    I’m so happy to know about Hotel Emma. We have family in Austin and have talked about taking a trip to San Antonio to check things out. I’m keeping this post for future reference. Thank you!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      San Antonio has changed so much. I would highly recommend the Emma and the entire Pearl District.

  3. classic casual home says

    WHAT AN AWESOME HOTEL. It looks so Texas Chic. Brilliant to ask Joni and Carla for their takes. Glad you could mix some business and pleasure. Now I have to start a Texas Pinterest board!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      It is truly a fabulous hotel. One of the best if not the best we have ever stayed in.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      We were so impressed with the Emma and San Antonio. It is definitely worth a trip!

  4. Gail Storti says

    What a fabulous hotel and how fun to stay there. I have a friend in San Antonio and am sending her this with a note saying she has to go check it out and have lunch! Thanks for sharing!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Yes! There are so many other options as well in the surrounding Pearl District and great shopping as well!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hotel Food can be not so good most of the time. It is usually overpriced and not very good!!

  5. Marsha Scott says

    Goodness, I live in Houston and had NO idea this hotel was open! Typical, I guess. We know downtown Rome better than our next door neighbors sometimes. What a great blog post, my dear. We’ll check this out for sure. My daughter lives in Wimberley and San Antonio is about 1 1/2 hours drive away, so kinda fun way to spend the day. The city is so charming to me, and there is nothing more evocative than seeing The Alamo, knowing so many died there so that the solciers encamped near Houston could have more time to assemble. Our state’s history is just so vast, like all the other’s, and seeing how amazingly wonderful Texas is today is beautiful to me. A native. Definitely one of the best places in our country to live (except for our long hot summers).

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Marsha you have to make the trip. The entire area is very interesting. I will post more about the Pearl District later. I know what you mean about not exploring your own backyard. I am exactly the same way!

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