By June Naylor
And just like that, Dallas offers two new and especially stylish hotels that beg a quick getaway of a different stripe. Both properties made debuts in December, and the pair lie fewer than 3 miles apart — in the Design and the Arts districts. Each of the properties bears its own distinctive calling card and spirit. The sexy Virgin Hotel Dallas exudes energy fit to spark a party, day or night, and has an über cool design of its own. The glamorous Hall Arts Hotel just steps from the city’s renowned performing arts venues brims with a spectacular original contemporary art collection. Pick your passion and book a visit; now there’s no excuse not to go — and stay awhile.
Hall Arts Hotel
A visual masterpiece with amenities galore
Reasons to spend a weekend exploring the Dallas Arts District don’t get any better. The luxe new Hall Arts Hotel, the first to open in the center of this prestigious corner of downtown, distinguishes itself with an unparalleled dedication to — you might have guessed it — art.
Owned by the city’s longtime arts patrons and collectors Craig and Kathryn Hall, the shiny, contemporary hotel designed by Big D’s HKS Inc. and New York’s Bentel & Bentel showcases more than 100 commissioned works from around Texas and the world. The sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, mosaics, tapestries and mixed-media pieces hang in public spaces from the lobby to the 10th floor, immersing guests in a permanent, museum-quality exhibit. There’s the commanding sculpture Organoleptic in the entry drive, created of volcanic stone by Mexico’s Pedro Reyes, and the light sculpture Asteroid by Spencer Finch from New York. The latter hangs over Ellie’s, the restaurant named for Craig Hall’s mother, Ellie Hall, who served in the U.S. Navy as a navigator during World War II. Through the soaring windows of Ellie’s, guests gaze out at the Hall’s Texas Sculpture Walk.
Artful creations also appear on plates, thanks to chef Eric Dreyer, known for years as chef de cuisine at Fearing’s Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas. Dreyer now shines in his own right with dishes such as grilled calamari steak marinated in red chile with avocado, citrus and cucumber.
Bringing the surrounding Arts District inside the hotel — the property sits within a few steps of the Meyerson Symphony Center and Winspear Opera House — enormous color photography prints on canvas feature ballet and modern dance images. Others in the 183 guest rooms feature works from the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center garden.
Rooms offer plentiful space, comfy beds fitted with Frette linens and a bedside tablet that allows you to adjust drapes, select TV options and order room service. Thoughtful touches start at check-in: Guests are offered a complimentary glass of a Hall Wine varietal, as the proprietors also are owners of award-winning Napa Valley wineries. This is Dallas at its tasteful best. Rooms from about $200;
1717 Leonard St., Dallas, 214-953-1717, hallartshotel.com.
The Virgin Hotel
Campy and clever
The Dallas Design District comes into its own with a fancy hotel opening right in the heart of the bustling quarter just west of downtown. Other upscale hotels are close by, but till now there’s been no bedding down in the district proper.
Virgin Hotels chose the spot surrounded by good restaurants, art galleries, interior design studios and boutiques to debut its third property, following the success of predecessors in Chicago and San Francisco.
The whimsical vibe meshing luxury with camp is a reflection of the fun-loving spirit of Virgin Air and hotel creator Richard Branson.
Just off the lobby, the Funny Library is the day-and-night coffee spot, with cozy banquettes. Steps beyond, the bar and restaurant Commons Club is a mix of marble surfaces, gold chandeliers and velveteen booths that’s chill by day and hopping at night. Best seats in the house? The chef’s counter with its view of the culinary team — led by local celebrity chef Matt McCallister — turning out toothsome choices from grilled hen-of-the-woods mushrooms accompanied by an ethereal aerated hollandaise to Texas wagyu short ribs.
Collaborating on design for common areas and the Penthouse Suite are Dallas firm Swoon, The Studio and Austin’s Joel Mozersky Design; local 5G Studio Collaborative provided the architects. Upstairs, the coolly modern rooms known as “Chambers” are especially comfortable, complete with “The Dressing Room” that includes two closets, a makeup desk and an expansive shower, all separated from the “Lounge” with its signature bed, red Smeg mini-fridge, couch and giant TV.
If you’ve been wanting to visit the district while musing over some design choices of your own, this is the spot to sleep on it. Room rates from about $220; 1445 Turtle Creek Blvd., Dallas, 469-359-7003, virginhotels.com/dallas.