Hotel Emma: A Love Affair
My heart has exploded into a thousand itty bitty pieces of sheer joy. My fiancé (eek!) pulled off the most magical proposal of all time ― one that included a celebratory stay at my #1 design crush of all time: Hotel Emma, located in my hometown of San Antonio.
Many of you reading might have heard about Hotel Emma, or maybe even visited, but probably few have pondered the design genius behind this shining star of the Pearl Brewery complex. Opened in 2015, Hotel Emma is a 19th century historic brewery turned boutique hotel, with 146 rooms, a glistening pool, three divine restaurants, and my favorite bar of all time, The Sternewirth.
Now I'm not usually drawn to the industrial look of exposed pipes and old rusted machinery, but Hotel Emma calls to me like the song of the sirens. Maybe it's the combination of brass and blue-gray in the bathrooms (swoon). Or maybe it's the layers upon layers of textures and antiques and leathers and textiles that compose a living, breathing building with never ending details to discover. Or the Wes Anderson-esque reception. Whatever it is, I've always been an enormous fan of the two mastermind interior designers behind the hotel: Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of Roman & Williams in New York City. The pair have been honorees of Architectural Digest's Top 100 since 2011.
The hotel is located at the heart of the Pearl Brewery complex, a riverside neighborhood established in 2009 with apartments and dozens of shops, restaurants, and bars. Hosting a bi-weekly Farmers' Market, Pearl is always teeming with life and energy, and has become a must-see for visitors. Grab a coffee at Local, a macaron at Bakery Lorraine, and take a stroll through designer's heaven.
Born and raised in the Alamo City, I'm a proud San Antonio gal by most standards. Even after all these years, I ooh and ahh over the twinkly lights of the River Walk and the bright colors of Fiesta. But, San Antonio's design scene is lacking. I've never been exactly over-the-moon inspired when I visit my birthplace. Then Hotel Emma was born, and I finally had a place I could point to and say: "This. We need more of this."
One reason I deeply admire Roman & Williams is the firm's dedication to creating spaces that speak to local culture and landscape. My own architect dad has always preached "a sense of place" in design, and Roman & Williams exalted this, by "incorporating a deep reading of the location –tracing the intersection of historical trade routes that mingled Latin influences with European culture, and investigating the original materials that still rested on the site, obscured beneath layers of dust."
What resulted, they say, "is an eclectic and curated juxtaposition of a whole spectrum of styles - old, new, industrial and refined - evoking a domestic yet romantic mystique throughout the hotel." How cool is that? Check at more of Roman & Williams' stunning projects here.
Wedding planning has been a doozy, hence the silence these past couple of months, but design inspiration is all around... Stay tuned!