Review: Hôtel Swexan Is Dallas’s Most Exciting New Hotel in Years
By Kevin Gray

Hôtel Swexan inhabits a 22-story mirrored tower and is the third Harwood District building designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. He was named one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People of 2021, and his work includes the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo and the Louis Vuitton Japan Group headquarters in Osaka. That’s a pretty good pedigree. Inside, architecture and furnishings pay homage to grand European cities, with intricate tilework, natural stones and woods, dramatic draperies and 16 antique fireplace mantels dating back to the 1800s and 1900s. There’s a lot to take in, so it’s worth exploring your environs.

A proper self-guided tour should include stops on the subterranean first floor, the rooftop and several places between. There are bars and restaurants on the lower level, the lobby level, the seventh floor and the rooftop. The eighth floor has a spacious and modern gym, with plenty of weights, bikes and treadmills, plus top-notch views and a large outdoor patio, where you can partake in yoga, boot camps and other outdoor activities. There are also wet and dry saunas and a cold plunge. Up top, the rooftop pool has 180-degree views of the Dallas skyline, palm trees, loungers, cabanas and a bar. On the Saturday afternoon of my visit, a shirtless DJ spun tracks and kept the energy high, but not so high that you couldn’t easily talk to your accomplices. 

At the Property

There are 134 guest rooms, including eight uniquely designed suites, and rooms range from a comfortable 350 square feet to an extra-comfortable 1,500 square feet. I stayed in a Corner King, with two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the city. There’s a handsome desk if you need to get some work done, plus a small seating area with a table and two chairs. Bathrooms vary across floor plans, but my bathroom was massive, with two sinks, a soaking tub and a shower that could reasonably fit six people.

The pass-through bar has a Nespresso machine, plenty of snacks, a mini fridge stocked with drinks and a better-than-usual assortment of wines and liquors. So, while there’s plenty to drink on property grounds, you don’t have to leave the room for a pre-dinner drink or a nightcap. 

Inside the Rooms

Working from the bottom to the top, your options begin with Babou’s. This subterranean bar is still applying some finishing touches, but it opens Aug. 10 and acts as a secluded spot to sip cocktails and feel fancy. Isabelle’s is on the lobby level. It serves a cafe-style breakfast and lunch, plus afternoon tea, and at night it turns into a martini bar. It’s a good choice for preprandial drinks before heading up to Stillwell’s on the seventh floor. The steakhouse is dark and moody, with wood-panel walls lined with framed photos, dark green banquettes framed by heavy matching drapes and a small bar set in an adjoining room. The menu leans hard into steaks and features HWD Beef, its own bloodline of Akaushi cattle raised specifically for the restaurant via a partnership with a local ranch. You can find strips, ribeyes and filets, plus non-steaks, like a great shrimp cocktail, shellfish towers, salads, black cod, scallops and roasted chicken. 

On the top floor, there’s Pomelo, the poolside bar serving beers, cocktails and snacks. And there’s Léonie, a pretty, sunlit space with tile floors, huge windows and hanging plants. It serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, with dishes ranging from pastries and eggs in the morning to salads, sandwiches and burgers during the day and pastas, fish and steaks in the evening. Léonie, just like the pool and Pomelo, is only for guests, so if you’re staying on site you won’t have to fight with the public for a table. 

From basement bar to rooftop pool, Hôtel Swexan offers a lot to like. The aesthetic is Instagram-approved, and the rooms and common spaces are a serious upgrade over the staid designs plaguing many of downtown’s chain hotels. It’s not the only boutique in town, but its charms warrant a visit, whether you’re spending the night or just stopping in for a martini and a steak.

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