I recently got engaged and while that means lots of wedding planning, it also means lots of “moon” planning. Yes, of course there is the honeymoon, but why stop at one “moon”?! Since my fiancé and I both love to travel, we’re taking advantage of all the new travel trends that come with getting married – engagement moons, early moons, anniversary moons… you get the idea, really just any excuse to hop on a plane!
Since we met I have been talking about my desire to visit Hotel Emma – a boutique hotel built inside the old Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, TX – so, we couldn’t think of a more perfect place to celebrate!
Now that I live in Southern California, it’s relatively easy to hop on a quick flight anywhere in the Southwestern US, but if you can’t find a direct flight to San Antonio from your hub, try looking at Austin. It’s only about an hour and fifteen minutes’ drive from Austin to San Antonio and you actually can Uber between the cities if you don’t want to rent a car.
Where to Stay
Hotel Emma. Hands down. Not that I stayed anywhere else in San Antonio on my weekend getaway, but why would you need to?! My expectations for Hotel Emma, after reading about this up and coming property in various articles, were pretty high and so I was a tad nervous that perhaps the experience wouldn’t live up to the hype. But I have to say it absolutely did! Here are my reasons for why you should book a trip to Hotel Emma ASAP:
- Location, Location, Location! The hotel’s location in The Pearl district of San Antonio is ideal. The Pearl is a seriously trendy area with a bunch of bars, restaurants, shops, a park and an ice cream shop (what else could you need)! It’s also right on the River Walk and not as touristy as downtown San Antonio.
- Design. Pearl Brewing Company was an iconic part of San Antonio for over a century, and since it closed in 2001, the developers of The Pearl project really tried to incorporate the brewery’s history and industrial design into the complex’s aesthetic. Everywhere you look in Hotel Emma, there are interesting details that pay homage to the building’s former function.
- Service. The customer service is really beyond at this property. Besides the very friendly staff, the hotel really just goes above and beyond with complimentary touches – from fresh baked macaroons from a nearby bakery in the evening and a daily house cocktail in the library, to “sleep kits” in your nightstand and Havaianas flip-flops by the pool – they really have thought of everything you might need to make your stay more enjoyable.
- Rooms. And finally, the rooms! The accommodations at Hotel Emma are really quite spacious, with a long hallway complete with entry table, a bathroom with both a shower and a claw-foot tub, a super comfy King bed, a small table and chairs, a flat screen TV and an “Ice Box” which is basically an upgraded mini fridge housed inside a trendy armoire that resembles an old school ice box.
Where to Eat
We were pleasantly surprised to find that San Antonio has some seriously good food! And so naturally we spent the majority of our weekend eating our way through the city.
- Supper – Hotel Emma’s own restaurant serves seasonal American cuisine with both indoor and outdoor seating. The chef puts an inventive twist on classic dishes.
- Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery – If you’ve already dined at Supper but still don’t want to go far for dinner, head to Southerleigh, which adjoins the hotel and is an active brewery that also has sublime food. Seriously we could not believe how good our meal was here. Opt for a beer flight to try multiple brews and don’t miss the deviled eggs with bacon jam. I also loved that they offer a classic cake and milk for dessert!
- Sternewirth – Hotel Emma’s cocktail bar. Very cool vibe (like the rest of the hotel!) – you can also get small plates here for a snack before dinner.
- La Gloria – Just a stone’s throw from the hotel, this taco spot is located on the river in the former brewery ice house. Great spot for a casual lunch with authentic TexMex eats.
- Bakery Lorraine – Every evening for turndown service the hotel brought us different flavored macaroons from Bakery Lorraine (across the square) and they were beyond amazing, rivaling even the best macaroons I’ve had in Paris and NYC.
- Chisme – Great for brunch with a nice outdoor area. The tres leches pancake was out of this world! And I think we were a bit early but apparently they have a mariachi band that serenades diners.
- Lick Honest Ice Creams – For a perfect treat on a hot day, head to Lick for a scoop, a cone or an ice cream sammie!
What to Do
- The Alamo – The #1 tourist attraction in San Antonio is The Alamo, a former Spanish mission located in downtown SA that served as the battlefield for a famous battle between the Texans and Santa Anna’s Mexican troops in 1836. You can book tours in advance in order to get more information on the history of the site and to skip the line entering the church.
- The River Walk – The San Antonio River runs through the center of the city and years ago, it was preserved and developed into a beautiful park, with walking/biking paths on either side. Along the way you’ll see art installations, gardens, restaurants, bars, wildflowers and a wide variety of aquatic birds. The River Walk is truly a focal point for the city.
- Pearl Weekend Farmer’s Market – Every Saturday and Sunday, local farmers set up shop in the main square of The Pearl. You can find produce, as well as food to eat for lunch, breakfast or treats.
- Jazz, TX – Also located in The Pearl, Jazz, TX is an underground jazz club straight out of La La Land. They offer 2 shows nightly – at 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm – which you can reserve in advance. You can order fancy cocktails and even have a meal while enjoying the talented jazz musicians on stage.
- Explore San Antonio’s Missions by Bike – This was our favorite activity! Swell cycle offers a bike share program dotted throughout the city which can be used to take a self-guided tour of The San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. We took an Uber to the furthest one – Mission Espada – and then biked from one to the next. The full route took several hours but it was a gorgeous day and the park and missions were really beautiful. After the last mission, we rewarded ourselves with a beer and a snack at Blue Star Brewery. This activity just felt very unique to San Antonio – plus was cheap, active and historical/cultural all in one!
- Relax by the pool – Hotel Emma’s rooftop pool is really peaceful and you can spend time relaxing, reading, swimming and enjoying food and cocktails as you please. We spent at least an hour a day at the pool to take full advantage!
- Fiesta – Once yearly, San Antonio holds a 10-day party called Fiesta, which started as a military celebration to commemorate the Battle of the Alamo and has expanded from there. We actually had no idea we were visiting San Antonio during Fiesta, but we quickly realized it when we landed at the airport and it was decorated in piñatas. Every day there were parades and park parties with entertainment and food, while the whole town was dressed up in colorful garb and branded “medals” that are part of the Fiesta tradition.
Overall, I would highly recommend a weekend in San Antonio. It’s a beautiful city that often goes overlooked but with a property like Hotel Emma and plenty of good food, good drinks, and sunshine – you can’t help but have a good time here!