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The Adolphus, Dallas, Texas
Enchanting Old World Charm in Downtown Dallas
by Carl Burnham
When entering the Adolphus, I was in awe of the regal surroundings. Ornate artwork, Belgian tapestries, hand-painted Chinese jardinieres, and fine furnishings dating to the 17th century adorn the expansive main lobby areas. The rich and famous have stayed here, from Presidents, royalty, celebrities, to athletes. Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra used to play here nightly. A photo of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip of England adorn the registration area, from their stay here in 1991. Through extensive remodeling in recent years, the guest rooms have been updated and expanded, and appointed with stylish furnishings. The French Room Restaurant provides the utmost experience in fine dining, and is rated as the best hotel restaurant in the country.
Watch a Video of the Adolphus Up Close
Opening in 1912 with great fanfare, it was described as "the most beautiful building west of Venice" by the American Institute of Architects. Adolphus Busch, the legendary beer baron who was known for many firsts, was approached by the young town of Dallas to build a hotel unmatched by any. He took them up on it, building the 21 story Adolphus (the tallest building in Texas at the time) in place of City Hall for a pricely sum of $1.8 million. It would also be the first hotel in the world to have central air conditioning. Among other firsts, his company was the first to bottle beer, and another of his companies built the first diesel engine in the United States. On the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel has a distinctive Beaux-Arts roof top, and the tower is designed to represent a Busch beer stein. Although Adolphus Busch would not live to see his grand hotel (he died in Germany), his legacy lives on today.
The energetic Adolphus Busch would be proud of his hotel and be amazed at the bustling city that Dallas is today. There are lots of things to do, many within walking distance of the downtown hotel, and the Adolphus staff was most friendly with providing area directions.
The Adolphus includes 422 expansive guest rooms with stylish Queen Anne and Chippendale-style furnishings. There are also 16 suites, and 31 different floor plans. The average size of the rooms are over 550 square feet, and nonsmoking. Six luxury suites include large garden terraces.
Our large guest room Queen Anne and Chippendale style included a living area with desk, sofa, chairs, television, with refrigerator, coffee maker with coffee. Our king-sized bed was quite comfortable, and included extra pillows and two plush bath robes for our stay. The bathroom included a shower with overhead rainfall showerhead, large mirrors, marble vanity, and amenities. From our window we could see excellent views of the financial district.
The central lobby area is a magnificent showplace, with richly paneled walls, European furniture, rare artwork, tapestries, clocks, and momentos, which encompass period dating back to the 17th century.
A rare 1893 Steinway piano, which was destined for the R.M.S. Titanic, was owned by the millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim, who died after refusing to get into one of the few available lifeboats just before the Titanic sank in 1912. Ornate carving decorations are along the the piano lid and legs. A pianist plays the Steinway piano during Afternoon Tea ($35.00 per person). Hanging on the wall behind the piano (see video) is one of my favorite hotel paintings, "Potrait of a Child with a Dog," a gift to Adolphus Busch by Carolus Durant.
Near the Registration entrance, be sure to stop and admire the English Regency oak table with marble top and detailed carvings underneath symbolizing military prowess, which dates to the early 19th century, and is insured for $1 million. The French chandelier above dates to the mid-19th century, while the Louis XV clock ornately decorated with cherubs is dated near the early 18th century. The massive "signature" chandelier commissioned by Adolphus Busch hangs over the escalators, complete with his beer logo and gilt decorated with hops and eagles.
Near the lobby entrance underneath a vaulted skylight, hangs 12-foot long Belgian and Flemish tapestries made of wool and silk, which represent in detail the life of Cleopatra, and date to 1661. The other four known to exist are in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Towards the elevators, you will see an early 18th centry French grandfather clock in mahogany and walnut, and decorated with bronze cherubs.
The French Room has consistently garnered four-star rankings, and has recently been rated the #1 hotel restaurant in the country by Zagat Survey. The candlelight dinner feast with roses are a one-of-a-kind experience for that special Dallas celebration like no other. Jason Weaver, Executive Chef of The French Room, offers up unique culinary combinations. He has an impressive range of fine dining experience over a 10 year span, and is also a decorated former United States Marine. With detailed paintings of cherubs in the clouds on vaulted 18 foot arched ceilings, overhanging Venetian chandeliers, along with the French culinary delights add to a unique dining experience. Our waiter during our visit was Carlos, who gave us impeccable service. After he retires he is planning to write a book on the many famous people he has waited on over the years, including all U.S. Presidents dating back to John F. Kennedy. My mouth waters just thinking about the Dominion Farm Crisp Pork Belly appetizer and the main course of Pan-Seared Wild Striped Bass with lobster. The French Room hours of operation for dining are Tuesday through Saturday, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.
The French Room Bar nearby includes oil paintings of Napoleon, along with furnishings that date to the 17th century. The impressive fireplace mantle is made of English Chippendale mahogany.
For more contemporary American and Texas cuisine, other dining venues in the hotel include The Bistro and the Walt Garrison Rodeo Bar and Grill.
The Adolphus offers complimentary sedan service in the downtown area, with valet parking ($20), and 24-hour concierge service.
A fitness room provides treadmills, recumbent bikes, and weights, with privileges also included to a nearby athletic club.
The hotel is a member of the Noble House Hotels & Resorts Collection, a select group of 12 independent hotels and resorts.
When staying at the Adolphus, I highly recommend taking your time to soak up the rich history, to fully appreciate the many museum quality treasures inside.
We would like to thank David and the Adolphus staff for their hospitality and for assisting with our feature.
1321 Commerce Street
Dallas, TX 75202 Google Map