San Antonio: Two Great Historic Hotels
> Two New, Yet Historic San Antonio Hotels in the Alamo City
By Janis Turk
Meet Emma and Anthony, two attractive luxury hotel properties set in historic San Antonio buildings.
Both celebrated grand openings in 2016, and both are poised to be game-changers on the Texas hotel scene.
Hotel Emma, a new independently owned five-star hotel set within San Antonio’s iconic 1984 Pearl Brewery brew house, opened on November 8.
The pride of Pearl, 20-acre culinary art, entertainment, retail and residential district along the River Walk, Hotel Emma is just a quick Rio Taxi ride up river from downtown and stands just 1.5 miles from the Alamo.
Rent a B-Cycle!
Visitors can rent a B-Cycle (bike-share program bicycle) and peddle downtown, stroll along the River Walk Museum Reach, or Uber on over to other area attractions.
With its eclectic industrial décor and mammoth scale, Hotel Emma covers seven floors and fills the epic old structure of brick and steel with a large entrance, a lobby, bar, and club room; a 3,700+-volume library; and 146 guest rooms and 11 suites.
It also holds enormous event spaces, a courtyard, a rooftop pool and bar, a 24-hour fitness center, along with culinary options sure to draw crowds, including Chef John Brand’s American eatery Supper, a gourmet market called Larder, an exhibition kitchen, and the giant Sternewirth club room and bar.
Featuring bold new-millennium style steeped in Pearl’s sudsy past, Hotel Emma was curated by award-winning New York design firm Roman and Williams.
With richly textured walls of chipped plaster and exposed masonry, tall concrete beams, towering 19- to 25-foot ceilings, soft upholstered arm chairs and Buffalo leather sofas, Moroccan ottomans, and fab industrial light fixtures, a warm inviting ambience fills the industrial space where giant pieces of factory machinery and brewery pipes still stand in the spaces they once served.
The Saint Anthony Hotel
Following a multi-million-dollar renovation, another historic property, the Saint Anthony Hotel downtown, also celebrated its grand opening in 2016.
Built in 1909, the Saint Anthony was the city’s first luxury air-conditioned hotel; today, after its full renovation, it remains a classic hotel, featuring 277 glamorous guest rooms and suites, as well as more than 31,500 square feet of event space.
With timeless décor, stunning city views and modern design elements, the hotel has a sixth-floor outdoor pool and a tenth-floor rooftop lounge, as well as the famed St. Anthony Club, a cocktail lounge, Rebelle, San Antonio’s newest culinary destination under Chef Stefan Bowers, and Haunt, a bar offering cocktails inspired by the haunting legends of The St. Anthony.
The hotel has long held an important place in San Antonio society; for decades it was the home of the exclusive Saint Anthony Club, one of the most elite private clubs in Texas.
Presidents as Guests
The hotel has also served as the headquarters of Fiesta balls and coronations and hosted such illustrious guests as Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, along with General Douglas MacArthur, Babe Ruth, Princess Grace of Monaco, Cary Grant and John Wayne.
The idea for Southwest Airlines was first conceived on a cocktail napkin in the bar, and negotiations that brought the Spurs to San Antonio were made over meals at The St. Anthony Club.
Known for its dazzling Peacock Alley, with plush carpeting and oversized crystal chandeliers, the lobby is reminiscent of parts of New York’s Plaza Hotel.
Decorated with velvet dome chairs, fringed divans, gilded French mirrors, a priceless Louis XV Steinway piano, and white-slab walls of Italian Carrara marble, this fine hotel is grand but not ostentatious, and the newly renovated guestrooms have all the modern amenities today’s travelers require.
Just steps from the River Walk, the Alamo, and other popular attractions, after more than a century the St. Anthony remains a San Antonio classic.
Hotel Emma's lobby contains reminders of its industrial past as a brewery. So where to stay in the Alamo City? Go visit Anthony and Emma.
136 E. Grayson Street, San Antonio, Texas 78215
The Saint Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel
300 East Travis St., San Antonio, Texas 78205
Janis Turk is a travel writer, photographer, and author who has appeared in travel segments for CNN’s airport network. Her work appears in magazines and newspapers and popular travel websites. Her most recent book Frommer’s TEXAS (2017) is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.