Bibliophile honeymooners visiting San Antonio will have to force themselves out of Hotel Emma’s 37,000, book- brimming, bi-level library. As one of the many irresistible enclaves in the stylishly eccentric hotel, kitted out amid the bones of a 19th-century brewhouse, the library begins the Hotel Emma experience as the location where new guests sip a welcome margarita, made from the owner’s own recipe. Once the couple has slurped the final dregs of their cocktail and managed to turn away from the inviting rows of books, they’ll mosey through the jaw dropping hotel to take refuge in their in their splurge-worthy honeymoon nest — the Emma Koehler Suite, the retreat’s pièce de résistance among its 146 perfect rooms. Eponymously named — like the hotel — for the brew master’s unflappable, business-minded wife, the suite honors how Emma led the brewhouse to prosperity through prohibition and beyond, against all odds, with dignity and grace.
Like the rest of the hotel, the spacious Emma Koehler Suite, replete with a grand piano, terrace and clawfoot bathtub, brandishes what might be called the essence of San Antonio: a blend of vintage Mexican ranch-house style coziness and Western cowboy chic. Rooms further coddle guests with such endearments as seersucker Guayabera robes, ice boxes (as opposed to mini bars) filled with local specialties, Frette linen sheets, etched crystal glasses, a sleep-inducing bedside spritzer, and likely the best shower you’ve ever stood beneath.
Rising eight stories on the verges of the storied River Walk, slightly Steampunk-intoned, LEEDS-certified Hotel Emma utilizes myriad extant brewery artifacts in its design, some re-imagined as a nod to sense of place. Take the huge, red ammonia compressor, which anchors the lobby or the chandelier, crafted from bottle labelers, which dangles from a vintage ceiling. In the ballroom, ancient beer vats flank a wall, while fermentation tanks have been fashioned into funky banquettes in the Sternewirth Bar. Romantically rich in textures — velvets, damask, worn or tooled leathers, dark woods — the hotel’s adornments and furnishings combine with the hotel’s strikingly industrial architectural elements (brick and chipped plaster walls, cast iron staircases, exposed beams, smudged concrete floors and rustic furniture) to convey a feeling each corner has a bygone story to tell. Just try and listen! The end result is a feast for the senses.
At the hotel, honeymooners will love taking over a cabana at the rooftop pool, shopping at Larder, a gourmet grocery and coffee cafe (which occupies former beer cellars), and dining at Supper, a farm-to-fork haven of new American cuisine. Do step outside Hotel Emma to enjoy The Historic Pearl, a clever mixed-use entertainment district, which surrounds the hotel, occupying the remaining, sprawling grounds of the former beer house and its factories and outposts. Hip, trendy, playful and deeply rooted in San Antonio’s essence, Pearl, a destination in itself, has led the Alamo City’s recent, delightful renaissance and elevation, inspiring other barrios to re-imagine themselves. For honeymooners who love history, Mexican culture, design, art and affordable pursuits, San Antonio, one of the United States’ most authentic, unique and remarkable cities, will fulfil their fantasies.
While exploring Pearl, nosh at Bottling Department, the city’s first food hall, ensconced in the brewery’s former bottling factory; enjoy spa services at innovative Hiatus Spa + Retreat, one of the country’s top day spas; and enjoy the variety of independent shops, including Twig Book Shop, Dos Carolinas (for Latin-made guayabera shirts) and Vintage Bouquet Bar (for fresh flowers).
Five Things for Honeymooners To Do in San Antonio:
Breakfast at Mi Tierra Y Panaderia
For four generations this 24-hour, family-owned eatery has fed San Antonio at its festive Market Square setting. Breakfast suggestions? Huevos rancheros or chilaquiles make the grade.
Bike and Peer
Grab a San Antonio B-cycle from one of the many public stands and pedal your way through the King William Historical District, which has 25 blocks of colorful 1880-era homes. Don’t forget to pass by the Alamo and the city’s four centuries-old missions, which comprise a national park.
Visit the McNay Art Museum, ensconced in an Italianate mansion. Formerly the private collection of an oil heiress, the museum’s bounty fills galleries with work by peerless artists, from Picasso to Monet.
The River Walk (Paseo del Rio) remains the Alamo City’s best-known attraction. Walk its miles of waterside sidewalks through downtown to access restaurants, bars hotels, boutiques and museums. When you tire, board a flower bedecked Go Rio sightseeing boat for a slow, city cruise.
The Texas Wine Country beckons in the hilly hinterlands about an hour outside of San Antonio. With a slew of award-winning wineries, it stands out as a sought-after day trip. Enjoy Elegant Tours‘ variety of chauffeured outings, include bespoke forays in honeymoon worthy limousines.