Just a half mile from Dealey Plaza, in downtown Dallas, a weekend of extravagant relaxation can be had within the confines of several city blocks. That sentence could never have been written in 1995, or even in 2012. The Joule, an opulent 160-room hotel situated in a neo-Gothic tower that formerly housed the Dallas National Bank, opened its doors in 2008 and completed a stunning $78 million renovation in late 2013. Today it’s at the center of a new, multi-use ecosystem that includes high-end boutiques, a subterranean spa, an upscale yoga studio, and a celebrated restaurant in the Main Street District.
My eleventh-floor penthouse was bursting with amenities, including holographic artwork by Bram Tihany, electronically controlled privacy shades, and a $4,000 Japanese toilet with built-in bidet. After enjoying a glass of wine on my private patio with a view onto Commerce Street, I met my boyfriend at CBD Provisions, in the lobby, where we ordered Texas wagyu rib steak and a little savory pie of tender cabrito.
To atone for the previous night’s dinner, I slipped into some yoga pants the next morning and wandered downstairs for an invigorating class at Vital Fitness Studio, which opened in February. Every detail had been attended to: thick Manduka yoga mats were available to borrow, and the locker rooms were stocked with Living Proof hair products.
Luckily, I was able to quickly replenish the calories I torched at Weekend, the coffee shop in the Joule’s lobby, which features so many artisanal jams and alternative coffee implements that you might think you’re in Brooklyn (pro tip: try the homemade Pop-Tart). That feeling is not dispelled in Tenoversix Presents, a boutique in the Joule’s lobby, where items on sale include whimsical Coral & Tusk linen tea towels embroidered with foxes and Pamela Love rose-gold rattlesnake cuff bracelets. Having whetted my appetite for retail, I strolled over to Neiman Marcus’s flagship location, which has been offering up a full array of luxury goods in this location since 1914. After an hour of covetous browsing, I snagged a plum table in the Zodiac Room, the better to eavesdrop on the clusters of lunching ladies as I slathered my popover with strawberry butter.
After a day of hard shopping, a day of leisure was in order, so on Sunday I headed to Espa, the hotel’s crystal-and-glass-laden eight-thousand-square-foot spa, which opened in October. I wiled away an hour shifting between the body-temperature “vitality” plunge pool and the steam room and sauna, until my facialist led me away for my rejuvenating sixty-minute treatment. Afterward, I rubbed on some sunscreen and read beside the Joule’s cantilevered pool, which extends eight feet beyond the rooftop and features a glass front overlooking Main Street. From up here, downtown Dallas looked completely different. I’d traveled farther than I thought—vertically speaking.