At first sight, it is hard to believe that San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery building could originally have served such a utilitarian purpose. Completed in 1894, it is an imposing brick structure — built in the Second Empire style, with a central tower and huge arched windows — that looks as though it might have been designed as an upscale apartment complex. Today, as well as housing the 146-room Hotel Emma — which opened in November 2015 — the former brewery has given its name to the surrounding (and buzzing) gastronomic and retail neighborhood, which boasts an array of restaurants and cafés, boutiques, bars, a bakery, a micro-brew pub, a Culinary Institute of America outpost, a farmers market and even an open-air amphitheater.
In 1921, a catastrophic flood killed more than 50 people in San Antonio. The city’s responding flood-control scheme eventually led to the creation of one of its most iconic visitor attractions, the River Walk, a colorful thoroughfare that meanders through San Antonio for several miles. Hotel Emma is located at its northern end, close to the San Antonio Museum of Art; the Alamo lies approximately two miles to the south.