Checking In: The Adolphus in Downtown Dallas

One step into The Adolphus and I was transported back in time. Specifically to the early 1900s. I felt as if I was on board the Titanic. Rich, dark wood; paneled ceilings; golden fixtures and a regal atmosphere made it feel as if it could almost be 1912 again. The hotel was fit for royalty. And after learning that Queen Elizabeth II paid the hotel a visit in 1991, I was even more convinced.

Dallas’ First Luxury Hotel

The Adolphus Hotel, which is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, has a storied past behind it. Located in downtown Dallas, the regal spot is known as the city’s first luxury hotel. It was built by Adolphus Busch (co-founder of Anheuser-Busch) in 1912 on the site of what was intended to be City Hall. Busch had chosen Dallas as the first hub for his national expansion and was so enamored with the Commerce St. location that he bought the place for himself to build a hotel. Today, the stunning spot pays homage to much of its historic past. In fact, its all-day restaurant is named City Hall Bistro and its coffee shop Otto’s, is named after the hotel’s general manager from 1928 to 1946. Its third dining outlet, The French Room, opened in 1912 with the hotel and is reminiscent of a French palace. Think Venetian walls, marble floors, gilded Louis XVI-style chairs, opulent sconces and twin Italian Murano Glass chandeliers hanging above. And the French cuisine is just as drool-worthy.

My room looked out onto bustling downtown which I reached via an old-school elevator. Funky shapes, wood paneling, and quick moving shafts make these beauties something of the past. “Some people really love the historic elevators,” said my bellhop, as they went buzzing past us, “but others don’t.” How could you not? Their character was absolutely necessary given the hotel’s past. It was just another cherry on top of this Old Fashioned cocktail of a hotel.

Historic Finds

Additional historic pieces found throughout include the original marble flooring and a Guggenheim-owned Steinway piano in The Salon Room (the piano was actually supposed to board the Titanic but never made it on), an original painting of Napoleon near the lobby bar (Busch was a big Napoleon fan) and all the original room keys, dangling from the wall behind the concierge. Those with a keen eye will notice influences of Anheuser-Busch throughout as well. The chandelier above the escalators is lined with the brand’s signature eagles and hop berries and leaves, and a frame near the bar area is also decorated with hop berries and lilies, an ode to Adolphus’ wife, Lilly Anheuser.

Explore Downtown

For those looking to explore Dallas, the hotel is near even more history. The original Neiman Marcus store and JFK Memorial are both within walking distance. And a stroll to the Deep Ellum neighborhood will offer up modern-day finds like boutique shops, eclectic dining and a fun, casual atmosphere. Make sure to stop into Revolver Taco Lounge for a bite to eat. The Pulpo taco—made with octopus carnitas, fried leek and jalapeño salsa—was to die for.

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