Ready for a change of scene? A good view isn’t hard to come by this time of year in Texas. With bluebonnets in bloom, just cruising along country roads or even along the highway is like escaping into a painterly landscape. For a truly art-filled weekend, follow the wildflowers to one of these relatively new Dallas hotels. Each features museum-worthy works and gallery finds in its public spaces and guest rooms. Like many hotels the world over during the pandemic, these three destinations follow COVID-19 safety procedures and offer packages to locals in need of a break from months of hibernating at home. Who knows, you might come away from a visit feeling rejuvenated and even happy to sleep in your own bed once again. Remember what that’s like?
1. Thompson Dallas
History buffs will appreciate this building’s provenance: erected in 1965 as the offices of First National Bank and designed by famed Dallas architect George Dahl (best known for the city’s Fair Park), the 51-story tower has long been a symbol of Dallas’s bold, showy style and is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. But thanks to a recent renovation and a portfolio of artwork worth more than $2 million, aesthetes will also feel at home in one of the 219 rooms at the newly opened Thompson Dallas, from Hyatt’s boutique spin-off brand. (San Antonio and Austin are also getting Thompsons this year.) Many architectural elements original to the building have been preserved: the teak-and-brass art deco walls; the mid-century modern overhangs that shade the pool deck; and the bright marble facade, made of slabs mined from the same Greek quarry whose stone was used for the Parthenon. The swanky new spaces within, inspired by London social clubs and brought to life by local designers Caroline Todd and Cindy Zelazny, are elevated by voguish art pieces. Head-turners in the common areas include a butterfly print from renowned British artist Damien Hirst, a Swarovski-crystal-covered Metis Atash sculpture of a Russian nesting doll wearing Chanel, and Tyler Shields photographs that summon couture culture. History, fashion, architecture, and art intersect with beauty in the hotel’s spa, on the ninth floor, where outdoor plunge pools on the terrace offer views of the downtown skyline. Staycation specials are always available, and one suite package includes a (fashionably) late checkout. Rates start at $279.
2. Virgin Hotels Dallas
The first Texas property from Virgin Hotels opened just a few months before the pandemic began, which prompted the high-end hotel to adapt by promoting creative staycations. Offers include a drag brunch deal, a remote-work day pass, and a sizable discount for Texas residents. But you don’t have to set foot inside the hotel to appreciate its largest-scale artwork: the surreal yet lifelike image of a woman floating upside-down across the building’s north facade. The spray-painted mural was commissioned by local artist and consultant Lesli Marshall, who also curated installations that play well with the Virgin’s whimsical interiors designed by Dallas’s Swoon the Studio (known for its work on the Adolphus Hotel renovation) and Austin favorite Joel Mozersky Design. A mural in the hotel’s Funny Library Coffee Shop, for example, depicts a Queen’s Guard sentry eating a Whataburger. Inside the 268 guest rooms, vintage collectibles sourced from all over Texas—a miniature sailboat model, a spaceship toy, a belt buckle—are mounted alongside Condé Nast rock and roll photographs. Elsewhere, works by talented locals mingle with modern masterpieces from hotel owner Bill Hutchinson’s personal collection, including an original Pieter Schoolwerth. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to step inside an artist’s world, this wild Design District hotel comes close. Rates start at $209.
3. Hall Arts Hotel
Located near some of the city’s top museums and performing arts venues, this Arts District hotel, which opened at the end of 2019, boasts an impressive collection of its own. On display are more than forty contemporary works selected by Virginia Shore, a former chief curator for U.S. embassies. For the Hall, she picked pieces by diverse artists from Texas and elsewhere, many of which emphasize the role of culture and activism in daily life. You’ll check in beneath a poetic piece by contemporary artist Lava Thomas—a cluster of pink and red tambourines inscribed with inspirational words from the likes of Sojourner Truth and Gloria Steinem that is suspended above the lobby. Just up the stairs, you’ll stumble upon a series of blue-tinted photographs by the legendary Carrie Mae Weems adjacent to the on-site watering hole, Ellie’s, where floor-to-ceiling windows look down upon a sculpture garden below. The 183 guest rooms feature images of candid scenes from the Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas Museum of Art, and other nearby spots, captured by local photographers. Speaking of locals, the Hall Arts Hotel has a generous definition of the term: its discount for Texas residents is available to Oklahomans, too. Rates start at $359.
This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Masterpiece Suites.” Subscribe today.