In addition to its thriving arts scene, strong corporate culture, and bustling international airport, Dallas, Texas has long been known as a multicultural melting pot. This summer, the opening of Hôtel Swexan proved that anew, melding Japanese architecture with Swiss hospitality in true Texas fashion.
The Kengo Kuma–designed property marks the latest addition to Dallas’s 19-city-block Harwood District and the first hotel project for Harwood International’s Barbier-Mueller family. Their third and most recent collaboration with the Japanese architect culminated in a striking 22-storey mirrored tower that neighbours two of Kuma’s existing designs. Meanwhile, the hotel’s name draws inspiration from the Barbier-Mueller’s Swiss-Texas heritage.
Throughout the property, and in each of the 134 bright and spacious guest rooms, the family’s private art collection and decorative style pay homage to these blended cultures. The rooms also have deep soaking tubs and minibars stocked with fine French wine, top-shelf liquors, and snacks such as Toblerone chocolate. Meanwhile, the eight uniquely appointed suites tell stories of world travels and far-flung adventures.
On the ground floor, just beyond the lobby, guests gather day and night for light bites and ice-cold martinis on the Parisian-inspired outdoor terrace of Isabelle’s, named for the Swiss explorer and author Isabelle Eberhardt. Upstairs at Stillwell’s, western details such as longhorns and leather accents complement the menu of locally aged akaushi steaks from Harwood’s in-house beef program.
Hôtel Swexan’s other venues are equally distinctive, from its sultry cigar lounge to the secret library stocked with classic books, antique maps, and pieces from Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller’s Japanese Samurai Collection next door. From the library, guests will enter Babou’s, the late-night lounge named for Salvador Dalí’s pet ocelot, where cat-print carpets, cheeky bathrooms, and twinkling disco balls strike a sexy yet sophisticated tone.
As morning dawns, the expansive fitness studio—which might be the nicest and best equipped in all of Dallas—beckons early risers. Most special is the 75-foot rooftop pool that is only open to hotel guests. Two palm trees rise over the cool, clear water, flanking colourful cabanas, a tasteful bar, and an elegant, light-filled bistro called Léonie.
From top to bottom, Hôtel Swexan feels familial and inviting, attracting a diverse clientele, from old souls to the young at heart. On a recent visit to the property, general manager Julian Payne likened it to a layered, well-travelled home. “Whether it’s the sidewalk of a Parisian café, a European nightspot, or Morocco,” Payne says, “the Hôtel Swexan experience is one of a kind, fusing worldly elegance and flare with a distinctly warm, Texas hospitality.”
Photography by Kathy Tran.