San Antonio, Texas

Photo: Hotel Emma
Photo: Hotel Emma

What’s your favorite city in Texas? Some people love the hip vibe in Austin. Others prefer the coastal elegance of Galveston. While Marfa’s art scene can’t be beat. But it’s San Antonio, in South Texas, to which you keep returning. The Alamo and the museums drew you there in the first place. The San Antonio River Walk, Brackenridge Park, and the Hispanic culture kept luring you back. Now there’s finally a hotel that makes you feel right at home.

The Pearl District, along the River Walk, has become one of the coolest parts of the city. The Pearl Farmers Market hosts vendors from within a 150-mile radius of the city. New restaurants show off modern techniques on the region’s traditional produce. Festivals, concerts, and movie screenings are held in the amphitheater. Independent shops sell everything from handmade jewelry to books by local authors. Bike paths weave along the San Antonio River. While a 19th-century brewery, long considered a San Antonio landmark, has been turned into Hotel Emma.

The hotel was named after Emma Koehler, who managed the business—and kept it going during Prohibition—after her husband died. It’s rich history is immediately apparent when you enter the building. High vaulted ceilings, brick walls, and well-worn leather furniture give the lobby authenticity. But it’s by no means stuck in the past. Electra cruiser bikes are parked outside. A pool has been added to the rooftop. An old fermenting cellar, now called Larder, stocks local groceries, craft beers, and house-butchered meats downstairs. Plus the smell of locally roasted Merit Roasting Co.’s coffee still lingers in the air from earlier this morning.

The upstairs rooms are just as comfortable and well appointed as the lobby. Choose between a Classic room with a mesquite table, an Artisan room with a big clawfoot tub, or a Terrace room with an outdoor fireplace. They all come with guayabera robes and an ice box with in-room treats, including the ingredients for famous La Babia margaritas, which give you a taste of South Texas. You had planned to drop your bags and head out to explore the River City right away, but a quick drink sounds really nice. You mix orange and lime with tequila and ice, dip the rim of your glass in salt, and open the doors to your terrace. Yes, San Antonio is definitely your city.

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