In 1912, beer baron Adolphus Busch opened Dallas’ first luxury hotel, The Adolphus. In 1950, the hotel became the first in the world to offer AC to its guests (actually a pretty big achievement if you’ve ever experienced a summer in Dallas). And now, over 100 years since it first opened, the city’s original deluxe hotel is still the place to stay in when visiting the big D. It’s got Southern hospitality by the super-sized bucket load, bags of Old World glamour and now thanks to a major renovation last year, a rooftop pool to boot.
Built on the original site of the City Hall, The Adolphus sits in downtown Dallas in the Central Business District. Meaning you’re on the doorstep of plenty of the city’s biggest attractions and museums including The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (the museum dedicated to JFK) and the Reunion Tower and Geodeck where you can take in the views of the sprawling city. It’s also only a 15 minute walk from Union Station (where you can catch trains to Austin, in just double the amount of time it takes to drive – I may be making fun, but as far as the experience goes National Rail should be taking notes) and 25 minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The 407 rooms range from the Deluxe Rooms to The Luxury Suites. If you like your space, or, like me, you seem to be able to spread your belongings over every surface then you need to go for the King Executive Suite. At 500sq ft they’re bigger than most London flats. The king size bed (or beds, each room can fit two) have plush pillow-top mattresses which makes getting up difficult, a sofa you could easily fit at least eight of your new American friends on and a huge flat screen TV. Even with a coffee counter, desk and walk in wardrobe there is still ample room to swing a lasso. It’s both amply spacious and cosy, when a storm hit the city, it made the perfect bolthole for hiding from the elements. In the bathroom you’ll find powerful rain showers and products from the New York based, environmentally friendly Red Flower.
The French Room
The restaurant has also stood the test of time, opening with the hotel at the start of the 20th century and going on to win numerous awards, it’s a destination in its own right. In contrast to the dark wood panelling in the lobby or the modern coffee shop, The French Room is a picture of elegant European architecture with an American finish. White gilded walls and high ceilings are illuminated by commanding chandeliers, whilst candles bathe the room in a soft light. This restaurant has significant date night written all over it. Focussing on French cuisine (it’s in the name) the menu (which offers both a tasting menu and a la carte) serves dishes such as filet with pomme purée, rapini and sauce bordelaise and scallop velouté with smoked shitake, beech mushrooms and asparagus.
There’s a particularly good dish of artichokes with a celery and ‘gentlemen’s relish’ with hints of earthy umami. Likewise the Thumberlina carrots with pearl onions and a chicken jus come highly recommended. The pairing of mushrooms and truffles will always be a winning combination, so add in asparagus, crispy chicken skin and perfectly cooked chicken and, in my humble opinion, you’ve got a thing of beauty and it seems it’s a popular choice I saw a number of diners choosing it. If chocolate is your thing, then make sure you order the chocolate souffle with lacquered raspberries. Rich, yet light and utterly indulgent, it’s a must. With exceptional service to match, it’s worth putting down the southern comfort cooking and Tex Mex for one evening to experience The French Room. The hotel is also home to the City Hall Bistro, a southern European-inspired all-day cafe, drop in for breakfast, brunch or lunch, and in a city where its seemingly difficult to find healthy options you’ll find plenty here.
If non-dairy powdered creamer isn’t doing it for you (why, America why?) then head down to Otto’s Coffee on the ground floor. The modern Viennese-style cafe (think less the grand cafes of yesteryear and more an urban Scandi chic vibe with brass finishes, dark wood and monochrome tiled floors) is where you can get your caffeine fix and pick up waffles smothered in chocolate sauce or for a natural sugar high, a pot of fruit. Perch on one of the high stools at the window and watch Dallasites go by or if you’re in a hurry, pick up a coffee from the window hatch.
Part of the restoration of the hotel was the arrival of the Spa Adolphus which features six treatment rooms, a couple’s room complete with private terrace, an events space and a relaxation room complete with its own patio overlooking the streets of the city. Using Red Flower products and organic oils, treatments range from the Signature Massage where for 80 minutes you’ll be wrapped up in the relaxing fragrance of French lavender oil, to the six hour ‘To Invigorate’ full day treatment which includes a massage, exfoliation, facial, manicure and pedicure. There’s also the Man-A-Cure, because this is 2019 and men’s nails need some love too.
If you need a more strenuous way to relax then head to the sizeable gym on the seventh floor. Alongside cardio equipment and free weights you’ll also find free headphones and fruit – it’s the little things that lure me in.
The Rooftop Pool
You know you’ve made it when you’re knocking back the cocktails on a Friday afternoon at a rooftop pool party. With the sun shining down and tipsy Dallasites befriending you in the shallows how can you not feel like you’re #livingyourbestlife? The Adolphus’ new rooftop pool on the seventh floor not only provides much needed respite from the sweltering temperatures, it also hosts a number of events throughout the summer including rooftop cinema series and Sunday session parties where they serve a mean frozen margarita and of course, every Millennial’s favourite drink, frosé.
When is a hotel lobby not just a hotel lobby? When it is part of the Adolphus. The initial lobby is bright and airy with big steel-framed factory windows and geometric shapes and leads off both to The Barber Shop by Brass Tacks (an Oak Cliff based barbershop) and Commerce, a southern supply store inspired shop that is effortlessly chic. As you walk into the heart of the hotel, the vibe changes with heavy dark wood, velvet chairs and a fire presumably for atmosphere as Dallas never gets cold enough for a fire.