If I could sum up Hotel Emma in one word, it would be “cool.” If I had 3 words, it would be “industrial chic design.” Hotel Emma opened in San Antonio’s Pearl District about 6 months ago in mid-2016 so it’s pretty new by anyone’s standards. The Hotel is located in the old Pearl Brewery building, which was built around 1890 and made beer until it was finally closed in 2001. There was also an additional bottling production company on the site so it was a large industrial complex with multiple buildings. The hotel is privately owned and is not part of any chain or group. The property was bought in 2002 and has been completely redesigned to house the hotel, shops, parks, apartments and multiple restaurants, cafes and bars.
We checked into the hotel around 10am and inquired if an upgrade was available to a terrace room. Sure enough they had a terrace room available and it was ready immediately but it was only available for one night. As this gave us an opportunity to see two different rooms, we took it anyway.
We loved the terrace room and this would be my first choice when we return. It’s an extra $75 a night on the weekends but we thought it was worth it for the large terrace which also had a lovely gas fireplace and was completely covered! We thoroughly enjoyed getting a light room service breakfast the next morning and having it on our patio with the fireplace going while it rained.
The room itself wasn’t particularly large but it had plenty of space for all of our things,a king size bed, large “icebox” that was well stocked with goodies, including 2 large bottles of mineral water that are sanitized and refilled daily to keep down on plastic bottle waste, high quality linens and locally made furniture and fixtures.
Down the hall was the lovely bathroom with old-timey fixtures, pedestal sink and large walk-in shower. I really loved their attention to detail on small things like the door handles, grommets and light fixtures. Everything was in keeping with period style craftsman look.
We also explored the lobby, bar and other areas. My favorite was the “guest only” library that was off the lobby and featured a beautiful room that was styled as a college library with old books and wood paneling. They served coffee in the morning and complimentary margaritas here in the evening for hotel guests only.
The lobby of Hotel Emma was a major production site for the old brewery and they kept much of the industrial equipment which now functions as art pieces and points of interest. Most of the equipment in the lobby were the old tanks and ammonia accumulators which helped with cooling the beer in their tanks.
The bar area was one of the holding tank areas and they cleverly used the old tanks as seating areas by cutting out entrances to them. The bar makes handcrafted cocktails throughout the day and was very, very popular in the evening. Quite the crowd.
The hotel also housed a few shops including an artisan coffee shop and cafe which sold local products and made some very strong espressos!
Outside the hotel, they kept with the industrial theme and have much of the old brewery equipment on site in its original state. They have also re-purposed many of the old buildings into bars and restaurants. We went into one called The Boiler House, which is as your probably guessed, the location of the old boiler for the brewery, with its chimney still intact. The old post office on site is another restaurant called Cured, which we didn’t get to try.
Our next night, we moved into an Artesian King Room, which was larger and equally lovely on its inside but we missed our terrace. The Artesian King room did have a much larger bathroom with an antique style claw-foot tub (with lavendar bath salts included) that I enjoyed one afternoon. Without the terrace, you do get more interior space but I would rather have the terrace instead but I guess it’s personal preference.
Overall, we loved our stay at Hotel Emma and would book here again in a heartbeat. The service and amenities (see macaron cookies with turndown from local bakery below) and the unique design and architecture of this hotel make it a definite must-see. Rooms are somewhat pricey ($400 to $600 a night for a non-suite style room) and it is a very busy property but we loved the area and the scene. Also, the riverwalk now extends down to the Pearl area so you can go jogging on its trails or walk downtown in 30-40 minutes or easily catch an Uber for a quick 5-8 minute ride instead!