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influential Design firm Roman and Williams's hospitality style departs for the west


BY HALLY WOLHANDLER

Photo courtesy of Jason Risner

Photo courtesy of Jason Risner

It is an overstatement to say that design firm Roman and Williams is the singular origin of the interior trends that characterize New York’s (hell, America’s) hospitality sector right now? That they’re behind so many of Manhattan’s holiest buzz centers—the Ace Hotel, Lafayette, and the Dutch, to name just a few—suggest it’s not. Their aesthetic, a meeting point of Americana and modernism, seems to have become the de-facto approach for any upscale upstart trying to make it in the city’s here-today-gone-tomorrow milieu. This month, though, that style departs for the West, when Hotel Emma opens in San Antonio.

Photo courtesy of Jason Risner

Photo courtesy of Jason Risner

The space is part of The Pearl, a development that includes high-end apartments, a farmers market, and campus of the Culinary Institute of America, all on the site of a historic brewery. Named after Emma Koehler, whose husband built the bottling plant in 1894—and who, lore has it, kept it open during prohibition—the expansive project has 146 rooms, a restaurant, a rooftop pool, a cocktail bar, and a 19-foot-ceilinged event venue outfitted with repurposed brewing tanks and chandeliers made of 1920s German bottle labelers. Though R&W is up to its usual tricks—leather and dark woods add ambience to exposed concrete; handmade Spanish porcelain tiles and brass accents punctuate the rooms—there’s deep connection to The Pearl’s heritage. The prerequisite reclaimed wood comes from the building itself, and the cement tile floor was rehabbed using remnants of the original. How’s that for authenticity? thehotelemma.com