San Antonio, United States

Hotel Emma

Rates from (ex tax)$345.00

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD402.79), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Boutique brewery

Setting

Prohibition-era Pearl

For a unique city-break in the heart of Texas, check into Hotel Emma; a prohibition-era brewery-turned-boutique hotel in downtown San Antonio. Cast-iron fermentation tanks have been repurposed into lounge seating, and bottle-labelling machines transformed into twinkling chandeliers. Bookworms can sip expertly mixed cocktails while thumbing through 3,700 books in the library, or cool off from the scorching South Texan sun in the cabana-strewn rooftop pool. 

 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

An invitation to Sternewirth Bar & Club Room for a free beer tasting, for two

Facilities

Photos Hotel Emma facilities

Need to know

Rooms

146, including 11 suites.

Check–Out

Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $345.00, excluding tax at 16.75 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD345.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast, but include a welcome margarita on arrival, and fresh coffee in the morning.

Also

Each room comes equipped with one of Hotel Emma’s Ice Box minibars: they’re stocked with local beers, tasty morsels from nearby farmers markets and ingredients for the signature La Babia margarita. Guests also have a dedicated culinary concierge on hand who can suggest and arrange a selection of foodie experiences.

At the hotel

There’s a gym and an outdoor pool on the third-floor rooftop. In rooms you’ll find free WiFi, a Bose bluetooth sound-system, a fully stocked minibar, free bottled water and Malin + Goetz products.

Our favourite rooms

Bed down in one of the lofty double-storey suites: the spectacular, light-filled Emma Koehler suite was made for entertaining, with its vast bar-clad terrace sporting panoramic views and its glossy grand piano in the living room. We love the charming Garret Room on the seventh floor, which has a romantic sitting-area in a hidden corner cupola and a tempting clawfoot bath tub.

Poolside

The clay-tiled pool is on the third-floor rooftop and has views of the river and the downtown San Antonio skyline.

Packing tips

Grab your stetson, sunnies and swimmers: it’s balmy down South.

Also

For guests with mobility issues there’s a chair-lift at the pool, and seven wheelchair accessible rooms, two of which have roll-in showers.

Pet‐friendly

Dogs up to 50lbs can stay in Brewhouse room types, for a fee of $150 for the whole stay. Guests will need to sign a pet waiver on check-in. See more pet-friendly hotels in San Antonio.

Children

The hotel is better suited to adults, and older children.

Food and Drink

Photos Hotel Emma food and drink

Top Table

Grab a river-view table on the patio, surrounded by copper-coloured heaters and potted plants.

Dress Code

Anything goes at this laid-back boutique brewery.

Hotel restaurant

Arrive hungry at Supper, the hotel’s locally loved restaurant, where chef John Brand serves up fresh seasonal produce given a creative mid-western twist, with a focus on relaxed, flavour-led dining. Sup on mouthwatering duck confit with seven-herb salad, followed by bronzini with crispy potatoes and poppyseed crema. Don’t mess with Texan desserts: we’re head-over-heels for the butterscotch cremeux with coconut ice cream, juniper fudge, black sesame, coriander and blackberries. For a speedier bite, head to Larder, the hotel’s artisan delicatessen and café, which stocks locally grown vegetables, house-butchered meats, fine wines and sweet treats, alongside freshly prepared sandwiches, salads and pastries.

 

Hotel bar

Industrial-chic Sternewirth, the hotel’s expansive bar, has a striking vaulted ceiling, cosy leather sofas arranged by a generous fireplace, and seductive dark wood stylings. A twinkling chandelier hangs in the middle of the room, fashioned from an old bottle-labelling machine, and cast-iron fermentation tanks have been repurposed into inviting banquettes. Loosen up with one of the hotel’s potent signature cocktails – we love Two Tikis to Paradise, a punchy mix of gin, macadamia liqueur, pineapple and tiki bitters; and for intrepid-sippers there’s the Three Emmas, a heady combination of absinthe, gin and apricot brandy.

Last orders

Supper dishes up breakfast, lunch and dinner; last orders are at 10pm. Larder is open from 7am until 8pm.

Room service

Everything from both Supper and Larder is available in-room from 6am until 1.30am daily.

Location

Photos Hotel Emma location
Address
Hotel Emma
136 E. Grayson
San Antonio
78215
United States

Planes

San Antonio International Airport (www.sanantonio.gov/sat) is only seven miles away (a 10-minute drive), and the hotel can arrange free private transfers. A limousine service is also available on request, for an extra charge.

Trains

San Antonio station is two miles away. Frequent Amtrak services arrive from most major American cities (www.amtrak.com/home), including direct trains from Dallas and Austin. Hotel transfers are free of charge.

Automobiles

The hotel is easy to reach by car from all directions, and offers valet parking for $15 a day. From the airport, get on highway 281 to downtown San Antonio and take the Josephine Street exit. From there, turn right after one block on East Grayson Street and continue two blocks where you’ll find the hotel on the left.

Worth getting out of bed for

Borrow a bike from the hotel and explore the buzzing Pearl village; snack on locally-made cheeses, charcuterie and other delicacies at the farmer’s market (open weekends) or take a stroll among the birds, butterflies and exotic plants in the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Gourmands take note: Hotel Emma’s dedicated culinary concierge ensures guests have insider-access to the best of South Texas food culture, from the newest pop-up restaurants to arranging private guest-chef dinners in your suite. Hail a river-taxi outside the hotel and take a trip downtown on the winding, bar-lined waterway, or take the oar into your own hands at Mission Kayak, where you can paddle your way through the San Antonio Missions National Park. Head to Unesco heritage site the Alamo to learn about Texas’ most famous battle, and nosey round the beautiful 300-year old Spanish fortress. Back at the hotel, settle down with a classic from the cosy, cocktail-equipped library, or survey the cityscape from your cabana by the pool.

Local restaurants

Do as the local foodies do and head to Cured, on Pearl Parkway, for house-smoked meat-platters featuring whipped pork butter and smoked duck ham; Feast, on South Alamo Street, specialises in flavourful small-plates (pernod quick-cured salmon with lemon sourdough-cake, smoked pear and fennel-oil has our vote), or snap-up the in-demand chef’s table at fine-dining eatery Bliss, South Presa Street. Stop by Botika, also on Pearl Parkway, for creative Peruvian-Asian fusion food; you’ll find dishes like deep-fried ceviche with tamarillo tiger’s milk, green onion, sesame seeds and yucca, and a huge range of cocktails, piscos, rums and cachaças.

Local cafés

Grab a coffee at Pearl Parkway’s Local Coffee, where beans are specially curated from premier roasters across the US. Cool down at Lick Honest Ice Cream for a smorgasbord of ices: they serve delicious favourites as well as quirky options like goats cheese with honey and thyme, and roasted beetroot with fresh mint.

Local bars

Set in the cellar of the bottling-department at the old Pearl Brewery, Jazz TX plays the best of South Texan music; sit back with a bourbon and enjoy a night of jazz, blues and swing.

Reviews

Photos Hotel Emma reviews
Ivy Ackerman

Anonymous review

I’m brave enough to admit, I believe in ghosts. So to walk into Hotel Emma and see Emma herself staring back at me was, to put it mildly, quite a thrill.

Now to provide some context.

It was Halloween weekend and the hotel was setting up the most spectacular altar in tribute to Emma Koehler, the hotel’s former owner and namesake, in preparation for Dia de los Muertos. According to Aztec folklore, it was customary to honor departed loved ones with joy, as opposed to sadness, because tears could make their journey to the afterworld slippery and treacherous for travel.

And so, upon my arrival, I was welcomed to Hotel Emma with a vibrant display of flags, candles, flowers and, at the center, a striking black and white photo of Emma, whom I would soon come to know… In spirit at least.

It’s hard not to quickly become immersed in the history of Hotel Emma. Established in 1894 as Pearl Brewhouse, the building has been completely reimagined by world-renowned design firm, Roman and Williams. Walking into the large lobby, you’re immediately transported to the brewery’s old engine room, coming face to face with original exhaust fans, pipes and compressors complimented by gorgeous Texan textiles, vintage leather and upholstered seating, communal tables and tiling. A unique balance of old and new – enveloping you in the past, but with a creative, modern perspective.  

After dropping off my bags in my stunning Brewhouse Tower room (I recommend the original tower with industrial touches, high ceilings and exposed brick), I returned to the lobby and settled into the hotel’s guest-only two-story library. Greeted with a cocktail (go for the Three Emmas and ask for the scandalous backstory) served from the stylish bar cart, I admired the illuminated shelves and the curated selection of vintage books on culture, food, travel, geography and history.  Every corner a new discovery.

I warded off literary distraction and opened the illustrated Wildsam field guide to San Antonio  that I found in my room. Paired with the hotel’s personal culinary concierge service, Hotel Emma does an incredible job of giving you the inside pulse on what’s new and one-of-a-kind in the city (and for this self-proclaimed culinary snob, that says a lot). Without the guidance of my personal culinary attaché, I would never have experienced the best Tex-Mex I’ve ever had at Maria’s Café. Do yourself a favor and let Maria and daughter, Leslie, do the ordering for you – you may just be rewarded with off-menu brisket nachos that will change your life.

But back at Hotel Emma’s library, it was reading the story of its namesake that was most captivating. After her husband Otto, Pearl Brewhouse’s President, died in 1914, Emma took the helm and lead the brewery successfully through the Prohibition era. Her resourcefulness and tenacity helped repurpose operations to dry cleaning and auto repair, ensuring no jobs were lost. I like to imagine Emma, this fierce female leader in the early 1900s, spearheading a company and industry. How unusual it must have been to have a woman in command of a brewery – the guts and guile she must have had.

I like to think how proud she would be to see the building reborn once again, transformed into this most spectacular and dramatic of hotels. While I was enjoying a complimentary beer-tasting class in the hotel’s kitchen space, I thought of Emma smirking at the group of guests rating aromas while snacking on artisanal pretzels. And while I was indulging in aperitivo-hour cheese and charcuterie at Larder – the hotel’s market and all-day café – I thought of Emma marveling at the conversion of what was once the old fermenting cellars into shelves of gorgeous kitchenware, cookbooks, pantry staples and house-made sandwiches, salads and snacks.  

As I walked along the landscaped riverwalk just steps from the hotel, I wondered what it must have looked like during the turn of the century. Was Emma a speed-walker like me? I think she would have definitely enjoyed some of the new public art and outdoor bars along the riverbank. Or maybe she would prefer to sit back at the hotel’s restaurant, camped out on Supper’s patio? Chef John Brand’s spinach and ricotta gnudi is hard to resist.   

Oh, and the sheer pleasure of fantasising over the shock and awe she would feel to see the Sternewirth tavern and club room – the hotel’s magnificent bar – come to life at night. The old bottling equipment now chandeliers; the giant fermentation tanks now cosy seating nooks. A toast to her over a La Biba Margarita, a house favorite.

Dia de los Muertos is a day when the spirits of loved ones are said to return to us. I did not witness the ghost of Emma Koehler roaming the hallways during my stay at Hotel Emma, but I did feel her spirit. I felt her strength and determination. Emma may have died in 1947, but here, her spirit – her innovation and creativity – is still very much alive.

 

The Guestbook

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