An Adolphus Weekend
405 Home away from home
There are days when we are compelled to make our homes in places that are not our houses. It is not our preference — the familiar is comfortable, and as editors, beautiful homes are where our hearts are — but we were recently summoned by forces beyond our control (including an emergency dash to the passport office) to make the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas our home away from home. We knew the moment we strolled into the grand lobby that we would be okay.
A massive redesign project was launched after its newish owners, Rockbridge Capital Group, bought the hotel in 2012. Dallas-based boutique design firm Swoon was chosen to undertake the project, and they reimagined the interior design of all the hotel’s public spaces. That means the three lobbies, ballroom, bistro, bars, a retail shop, a coffee and pastry shop, barbershop, the renowned bastion of Dallas fine dining that is the French Room … all were rejuvenated.
The hotel, with its ornate Beaux Arts façade, was built by beer baron Adolphus Busch in 1912, and its renovation was completed in 2018. Its lush-yet-welcoming interior design struck us like a bolt of elegant lightning. We wandered, agog at every beautiful detail, soaking in the thoughtful layers of art and beauty, while hatching absurd plans to become “stranded” in Dallas so we could extend our stay.
For several moments, we just sat in the lobby and soaked in the everything. Antique rugs anchor tufted sofas in rich velvet and leather. Iconic John Dickinson “African Table” side tables dot the landscape, along with contemporary classics such as Kelly Wearstler’s “Linden” lamps. Rattan chairs reminiscent of leaf-cutter ants await in the salon.
A pair of limestone fireplaces shipped in from France anchor the vast lobby space, topped by some of the most significant art in the hotel: two very spare black prints by artist Richard Serra. A centuries-old portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, which was part of the Busch family collection, hangs in the hotel bar. A carved Guggenheim Steinway, and more beautifully curated art, create a modern-historic juxtaposition that delights.
How did this design magic occur? We asked Joslyn Taylor, partner at Swoon, whose firm undertook the project of renovating and reimagining the historic hotel’s public spaces. We also asked Sam Tucker, Adolphus director of sales and marketing, how his team makes the place feel like a home.
405HOME: What is the design philosophy in the common spaces, such as the lobby and the salon? It feels like an extremely cool and beautifully gracious English country house, like if Downton Abbey were modern-day. Was that the idea?
Taylor: “Our goal was to create a cozy, layered, residential feel while honoring the history and architecture of the space. We wanted the design to feel memorable and cool but still storied, so we were mindful of mixing elements like steel-frame factory windows, antique stone fireplaces imported from France and vintage furnishings with modern art and a curated collection of books to create a push-pull. The overall vibe is that of a modern-day young couple living in a grand European home that they’ve made their own, by adding their possessions to things they’ve inherited.”
405HOME: What are the more unique amenities the Adolphus offers its guests? Our in-room welcome cocktail was so clever and fun; what are some other little, meaningful touches?
Tucker: “We offer a very thoughtful array of customized welcome amenities, but our favorite is The 1912 cocktail, which highlights our rich history with a delicious offering of sweet and savory from our culinary team, and a hand-crafted cocktail from our City Hall mixologists. It is the perfect way to warmly welcome travelers into our beautifully restored space.”
405HOME: When is the pool open?
Tucker: “The pool season officially kicks off around Easter each year, and concludes with a bash on Labor Day. This is Texas, after all, and the weather is finicky. When the weather permits, we always open the pool deck. In Texas, you never really know if the sun will shine or the sleet will fall in the winter months. Our Director of Security, Glenn Boykin, moonlights as our un-official Adolphus meteorologist. When Glenn sees sun, the pool is open! Everyone loves the fresh air and the rooftop views of the skyscrapers.”
The 1912 Cocktail
- 2oz Whistle Pig rye whiskey
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
- Lemon peel expression
Combine whiskey, bitters and simple syrup. Serve on the rocks, with a twist of lemon or orange. For a true Adolphus experience, serve with Texas Hill Country pecan shortbread, Oak Cliff coffee truffles and Texas grapefruit pate de fruit.
For more about the Adolphus, including an excellent weekend itinerary, visit 405HOME online.
An Adolphus Staycation
The Adolphus feels almost like a self-contained village – I could easily envision spending a long weekend there and never leaving the property, yet being perfectly entertained, fed and happy. We asked the hotel to map out a weekend "itenerary" if a guest wanted to do exactly that – here are their plans for an Adolphus Staycation.
There’s always something new happening at the hotel, whether it’s a curated art talk in The Salon, a Hot Toddy pop-up bar, a pool party or a Botox & Bubbles party at the spa. Make sure to check the hotel’s social media pages and ask the concierge about that weekend’s events.
Upon check-in, grab a cocktail at City Hall Bar, and then get a lay of the land with a concierge-led curated historical tour around the hotel – hear the meaningful stories behind some of the Adolphus’ most prized pieces, such as a neoclassical Napoleon Portrait more than a century old (official tour booklet/ historical pieces highlighted here).
Grab appetizers and a drink in moody and sultry The French Room Bar.
Dine in City Hall Bistro, and enjoy shared plates like crispy halloumi, char-grilled octopus and charcuterie, as well as shakshuka and jidori chicken. Dinner menu here.
For a nightcap, grab a drink by the fire in the lobby, serviced by City Hall Bar, and people watch hotel guests and locals alike strolling in and out of the hotel, or take in the prestigious and curated art pieces.
Take advantage of streamed fitness classes and state-of-the-art equipment in the 7th floor fitness center.
Breakfast at Otto’s. In addition to a variety of coffees, teas and more, enjoy light breakfast bites like Greek yogurt parfait, bacon/egg/cheese sandwiches, quiche Lorraine, apple strudels and more. Menu here.
Weather permitting, head up to the pool for a rooftop sun-filled afternoon and have lunch at the pool deck. For a break from the rays, grab a short-rib pita or pappardelle at City Hall Bistro. Lunch menu here.
Head from the pool to Spa Adolphus, both located on the 7th floor wellness deck, and indulge in treatments such as “To Relax” (3.5 hours with wrap, facial, manicure and pedicure included) or “For Lovers” (two people, 2 hours, inclusive of a relaxation massage followed by a customized facial). Full menu here. Men can take advantage of time in the ground-floor barber shop and have shoes shined in the lobby.
Spend some time in the retail shop, commerce, with one-of-a-kind pieces and artisan goods.
Get dressed up and indulge in a multi-course tasting menu at The French Room complete with wine pairings and a welcome champagne toast.
Take advantage of an extra hour in bed with in-room dining.
If interested in venturing out, the flagship Neiman Marcus is just down the street. Otherwise, grab some more rays on the pool deck, stroll the hotel’s curated art galleries and spend time in The French Room Salon by the grand piano with a good book and serene surroundings.
Indulge in a French Room tea from noon-2 p.m. and enjoy multi-course tea sandwiches and sophisticated bites with tea pairings.