Bed, Beer, and Breakfast: Hotel Emma

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San Antonio’s pride and joy lies in the historic Pearl Brewery, established in the Texas town back in 1883. Aside from The Alamo, it may just be the city’s favorite destination for tourists and locals alike. Despite the Pearl’s sprawling campus of bakeries, restaurants, shops, and more, they have announced an exciting new addition that will transform Texas tourism: Hotel Emma. Former set designers Roman and Williams remodeled the old brewhouse into a 146 room luxury hotel that invites visitors to fully immerse themselves in San Antonio’s historic past.

Guests catch a glimpse of a 20th century copper engine that dominates the lobby while staff adorned in seersucker guayaberas by Dos Carolinas serve cocktails and hand-shaken margaritas.

An on-trend industrial interior maintains the authenticity of the building and its original purpose, while its peeling walls stand to remind us of the power of time. It’s evident that the architects “are devoted to rebelling against modern disposability and the common stereotypes of what it means to be ‘modern’ today;” Roman and Williams allow the structure’s rich history to dictate its new design, dedicated to the space’s intentions as if the walls could talk.

Hotel Emma’s interior feels gritty and lavish all at once; guests catch a glimpse of a 20th century copper engine that dominates the lobby while staff adorned in seersucker guayaberas by Dos Carolinas serve cocktails and hand-shaken margaritas. But the hotel’s most exceptional service may be their “Culinary Concierges”, who “will strive to be an unprecedented resource that brings focus to…guests’ culinary and cultural experiences by providing unique insights into ‘authentic’ San Antonio.” Pearl staff will employ their local expertise to craft a once-in-a-lifetime experience to fit each guest’s unique interests. The hotel’s fascinating combination of antiquity and luxury continues into each bedroom — outfitted with a four poster bed inspired by Herter Brother and White Frette linens — and each beautifully tiled bathroom — complete with a claw foot tub and pedestal sink. 3,700 volumes from Sherry Kafka Wagner fill the shelves of the stunning two-tiered, in-house library while the Sternewirth bar and clubroom – named for the rule that allowed brewery workers to imbibe on the job – gives guests a relaxing yet fascinating way to end their days. There you can sample the bar’s signature drink, the “Three emas” – made from gin, apricot brandy, and absinthe.
Hotel Emma is more than a period piece; it is a destination, an experience, a bucket-list ambition. The brilliant remodel shows us San Antonio’s role in an increasingly modern world, the impact of centuries-old history as we continue to evolve.





Lizzie Wright


​Lizzie Wright is an aspiring artist and designer with a passion for the written word. While she works on her BFA in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), she spends her (rare) spare time riding around Providence on her trusty Cannondale and drinking lots of coffee. She is especially fascinated by the dichotomy between aesthetic form and function, which has an immense influence on her work. As a lover of the natural world, Lizzie plans to focus on Nature, Culture, and Sustainability Studies to pursue a more efficient future for design. Read more by visiting her website

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