Looking for a weekend getaway before the summer’s over? The “I Live In Dallas” blog shared their top picks for the best boutique hotels in Dallas.
To build a quality list of the top Six Dallas Boutique Hotels Worth a Staycation, I was seeking not just to experience nice properties but hospitality from the staff. I spent eighteen years in the hospitality business and have been running a Hotel and Restaurant Program at a local community college for the last two years. Regularly, I share with my students that it is the people that make the difference with the guest. At one time, Disneyland was a customer of mine. What I witnessed in my interactions behind the scenes at Disney, was that their magic begins with hiring caring people who naturally provide hospitality as part of their DNA.
My process began with a list of 11 hotels for unannounced visits. If the hotels offered hospitality and a reasonable amount of amenities for a staycation I went back for another visit. Below is the list of the top six Dallas boutique hotels ranked by the amount and degree of hospitality that I experienced throughout the unannounced and announced visits. In this article, I will be sharing with you some of the unique amenities that made these particular hotels worth a staycation for me as well as what might make each of these six Dallas boutique hotels worthwhile and interesting to you.
1) Warwick Melrose Hotel
Our Visit: Visited the Melrose unannounced for lunch. The hotel is home to The Landmark, a restaurant that is a AAA Four Diamond restaurant. I ate at the Landmark Restaurant about three years ago and it was great! Being a teacher now, we made a beeline for The Library Bar that is located just to the right of the entrance. The bar feels like something out of NYC with many authentic touches (no faux here). I later learned from the GM the bar had undergone a $500,000 renovation with $50,000 spent just for the beautiful blue lapis stone bar top. Everything was unique at the Melrose and I found the Melrose staff exemplified caring in reams.
From the doorman to the bartender, who served us lunch, the Melrose employees could not have been any kinder. The bartender was great with my young son and genuinely seemed to have the caring DNA gene in droves. The food was great and service was seamless! At a subsequent visit with the GM, I shared the best part of the visit was my son’s meal. The GM smiled … but watching my son manage the six inch strings of cheese from crust to mouth with his three-cheese grilled sandwich was funny! The employees throughout the hotel are “real” as I said to the GM, Larry McAfee. You know, many times we visit expensive restaurants and/or hotels and the caring comes across as systemized caring that is trained. Not at the Melrose. I spoke with the front desk person about a shared concern regarding our children. On my way out I ran into one of the Melrose associates who greeted me as he crossed the street from the pharmacy, the Melrose set the standard for caring on my short list.
Cool things about the Warwick Melrose: It was built in 1924 and received a multi-million dollar renovation in 2009. Larry McAfee described the design of the rooms perfectly in their press release: “it’s luxury, glamour and comfort. Hollywood of the 1920s seemed the era that best represented that blend, and it ties to the time frame in which the hotel opened.” Celebrity guests from Elizabeth Taylor to Martin Sheen have stayed at the Melrose. The Library Bar features some very special entertainment as well. For example, Pat Peterson, who has been a backup singer for Ray Charles, John Mellancamp, and others plays every Thursday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Also, 2009 D Magazine’s Best of Lounge Singers performs at The Library Bar every Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Admission is free but make sure you get there early to beat the line. Oh yes, the hotel is pet friendly and they have biscuits for your best friend as well … real easy neighborhood to go walk your dog around.
Insight for your Staycation: You pretty much need to drive to this hotel. Once there, you will find many great retail establishments within walking distance to create a special stay at the Melrose. I would choose to land there on a Friday afternoon (to catch the entertainment mentioned above) and walk up to Eatzi’s Market to grab some of their wonderful artisan bread and other comfort food. On the walk back to the hotel, I would stop by one of the of the fine wine stores and grab a little something to stock up the room to make my staycation a little more comfortable. At some point during my stay, I would probably head out for at least one dinner at the Green Papaya Cafe that is within walking distance as well.
2) Belmont Hotel
Our Visit: Started with breakfast next door at Smoke and ended with listening to guests share their pleasant experience with the Belmont front desk person: “This was another great getaway.” I came to learn the Garlands regularly visit The Belmont for a staycation. A walk around the property told me this is not your average hotel and not such a secret to many. However, it feels like one because the location is just outside the usual confines of downtown Dallas. Most of the license plates are from Texas and there were Jaguars, Mercedes, and Cadillacs parked throughout. The setting of the hotel is similar to those motels that you see along the side of the road on a drive up California’s Pacific Coast Highway with that small town feel. This sense of small town feel is exactly what the staff at the Belmont Hotel reflect as well. This is truly a boutique hotel with only 64 rooms and each room is uniquely decorated. If you are looking for a relaxing staycation just outside the boundaries of downtown Dallas, this is a bargain. They have a pretty unique pool setting (discussed below), cool bar, and great food. A friend of mine thought the rates would be in the $200 range after visiting, but they are not — they actually start around $109 per night. Interesting enough a hotel manager whose property did not make this short list said “I do not charge $200+ for a room; how can I be expected to provide the same service? ” Take a look at the Belmont is what I would do.
Cool things about the Belmont Hotel: As I shared with the Belmont’s General Manager, I was so disappointed with myself because I have been driving to Rockwall to watch the sunset over downtown Dallas for years. Now, I found BarBelmont which is so much closer and cooler. The bar’s patio deck sits high off the street level and provides a great panoramic view of downtown Dallas. Even better, there is live music played on Friday evenings.
Every Sunday during the summer months I discovered they have a pool party. On a regular basis, the Belmont Hotel schedules a Dive-In movie event for free with a cash bar … watching a movie on the lawn and sipping drinks … pretty relaxing!
The food for the Belmont Hotel is provided by Smoke (sits right next door to the Belmont). I was blown away by the food at Smoke … had not done my homework on Belmont’s food before visiting. It was literally the best breakfast I have ever had. What that means is I had something that I would not/could not make at home and it some really unique flavors. As soon as I got home, I did a search on Smoke and came to learn that the co-owner is Tim Byres, who previously worked at The Mansion and Stephan Pyles. You foodies know what that means! Definite credibility and quality. However, you will not see the Heavy Handed Blueberry and Ricotta Pancakes with Vanilla Apricots and Cream for only $9 at Chef Byres previous places of employment. Portion sizes are large and can be shared or brought up to the room/pool for some all day grazing. I overheard one guest say to the waiter that: “I would love to come back and finish the plate off…it was greaaaat!” The restaurant has a very cozy atmosphere (like the Belmont) with a fire place at the back wall. To me, this place feels like the Five Point Café in Seattle where it was rumored we could see Pearl Jam show up but with higher much quality food and cleaner. Just feel casual comfort at Smoke.
Insight for your Staycation: You will need to drive to the hotel; parking is provided. This is a great launching pad to enjoy many of the sites in the area. If it is a trip to the Dallas Zoo, arts district, or American Airlines Center for a game/event, the Belmont is a great place to begin and end your day. It is the most casual of all the hotels mentioned in this listing and the only one that is literally outside the Dallas confines. You can depend on the food from Smoke for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I did find that food takes quite a while to get up to the bar from Smoke but if you are not in any rush then no worries. Ensure that you look up the hotel’s event calendar for art, music, and dive-in movie schedule. There is an interesting story about the Belmont’s heyday during the ’40s that is posted in their conference room. It was kind of fun to read something from such a different time in Dallas. I love this place!
Continue reading at PegasusNews.com, a TSB content sharing partner, for the complete list of hotels.