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DFW Staycation: European Luxury Abounds at Harwood’s Hôtel Swexan

By Kelsey Vanderschoot / September 29, 2023 / D Magazine

DFW Staycation: European Luxury Abounds at Harwood’s Hôtel Swexan

With a rooftop pool, library speakeasy, and prime beef program, the new Hôtel Swexan showcases the best of the Barbier-Mueller family’s Swiss and Texan roots.

When I walked into Hôtel Swexan in the Harwood District, I was immediately brought back to the time I spent living in Europe. The 22-story hotel tower was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and combines urban, European, and Texan influences—a nod to its owners, the Barbier-Mueller family, who are Swiss Texans.

Hôtel Swexan opened in June and showcases 134 guest rooms and eight unique suites on the 18th and 19th floors. The largest of the eight suites, The Grand Suite, features a private sauna, 1.5 baths, and a 10-person dining room table amid masculine design elements. Its neighbor, the Harwood Suite, highlights more Asian design elements and a suit of Samurai armor that is part of the Barbier-Mueller’s private art collection.

The hotel’s design uses more than 23 unique types of tile, 100 different kinds of wood and natural stone, 16 antique fireplaces from the 1800s and 1900s, and each restroom outside the guest rooms has its own distinct wall decor. Hôtel Swexan also houses 12,000 square feet of meeting space on the sixth floor and a private club and other areas accessible only to members—not even hotel guests.

After taking in the views of the Rolex Building and surrounding Harwood District, I ventured down to the lobby level for a drink at Isabelle’s. The venue serves breakfast and lunch, then becomes a martini bar in the evenings and is reminiscent of an elevated study or den in its design. I opted for my the Breakfast of Champions, the bar’s take on an espresso martini that mixes Absolut Vanilla vodka, St. George NOLA liqueur, cold brew, orange, and Fee Brothers Cardamom Bitters.

I then headed up to the seventh floor for dinner at Stillwell’s, the hotel’s anchor restaurant and steakhouse named for Hallie Stillwell, a female Texas rancher. The star of the show at Stillwell’s is the cuts of HWD-Premium Harwood Beef. Harwood created its own breed of cattle for the program, using prime Akaushi cattle from Texas and Oklahoma.

I chose the Beef Dumplings with truffle gravy and petite mustard to start, as well as the Yellow Fin Tuna from the raw bar. I then opted for the 12 oz Harwood filet mignon with black truffle butter, which was among the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. To wash it all down, I chose The Ranch Hand, a cocktail of bacon-washed bourbon, maple syrup, aromatic bitters, and orange bitters. I ended the meal with the Peanut Butter Bar, which combined vanilla cream, peanuts, and dark chocolate.

In a blissful food coma, I took the elevator down to Babou’s, the library speakeasy located on the hotel’s lowest level. On the way in, I enjoyed an off-menu drink from Isabelle’s that the mixologist called a “DD’s Martini,” a mix between an espresso martini and a White Russian. My caffeine-loving heart has rarely been so happy.

Surrounded by books, art, and the pulse of good music at Babaou’s, I sipped on a cognac-infused espresso martini variation before switching to the Acqua Fresca, a watermelon tequila cocktail. I ended the night with a relaxing bath inside my room’s giant soaking tub.

The next day I went up to the 20th floor to enjoy a rooftop breakfast at Léonie, a space reminiscent of a Parisian cafe with stunning views of downtown and ample greenery. I opted for the luxurious Maine Lobster Omelette topped with buttered leaks, lemon béarnaise, and Ossetra caviar.

My Moroccan server smiled at my coffee order; the cappuccino with cinnamon powder on top reminded him of how coffee is served in his home country. I finished my meal with the Mixed Berry Tartine—a big slice of whole wheat bread topped with whipped ricotta, roasted berries, and lemon oil. I lingered a little while, sipping my coffee, to enjoy the ambiance and iconic city views.

I ventured outdoors to spend my late morning and early afternoon lounging poolside. I enjoyed lunch at Pomelo, the venue’s pool and rooftop bar and eatery. I opted for the Sushi Lollipops and a fruit plate—the perfect mix of sweet and savory to end my trip.

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Harwood Hospitality Group’s flagship hotel—named Hôtel Swexan, opening in 2023.

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