Excessive ornamentation was en vogue in the early 1980s, which was the last time the Adolphus Hotel underwent a significant renovation. For the recent revamp of the downtown Dallas Beaux-Arts icon, local design studio Swoon the Studio scaled back, reimagining it as a young couple’s quietly elegant family estate in Europe.
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection and operated by Dallas hospitality and development firm Makeready, the Adolphus has attracted visiting luminaries for decades since its development by beer titan Adolphus Busch around 1912. “People have a lot of memories of the property. It’s a historic building and so we wanted to honor the past,” says Joslyn Taylor, Swoon the Studio partner and principal of interiors, “but we also wanted to make it relaxed and fresh.”
For nearly two and a half years, Swoon the Studio overhauled the Adolphus’s public spaces to make way for additions such as Spa Adolphus, which includes an alfresco relaxation area and the airy lifestyle boutique Commerce Goods + Supply. A residential feel was also conjured to complement the 407 upgraded guestrooms courtesy of local firm Design Duncan Miller Ullmann. Convivial, social brands like Ace Hotel were muses for the Adolphus’s dive into modernity, as were the grand yet refined spaces “visited on research trips, like Chicago Athletic Association and Bemelmans Bar in New York,” points out Taylor. Materials like original dark walnut paneling are melded with steel-frame windows, a homey collection of books, and artwork from the likes of artist Richard Serra.
New restaurants, including the charcoal-hued, Viennese-influenced Otto’s Coffee & Fine Foods and white-tiled bistro City Hall, bolster storied fine dining restaurant the French Room. It remains ornate in its modern incarnation, but the ceiling now wears a simple white shade, no longer flaunting its signature cherub frescoes. The French Room Bar, where a red Chinoiserie-style mantel pops against deep blue walls, offers a more intimate experience.
Custom mosaic floors greet guests at reception, while the upper lobby’s bar is fashioned from Carrara marble and raw brass. In the Drawing Room, a duo of antique limestone fireplaces from France were, despite structural challenges, painstakingly reassembled. Another highlight, says Taylor, was discovered upon removing layers of old carpeting in the French Room Salon: lustrous marble flooring illuminates the Adolphus’s graceful timelessness.