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Experiencing ‘Glory’ At Hôtel Swexan In Dallas

By Brienne Walsh / November 10, 2023 / Forbes

Experiencing ‘Glory’ At Hôtel Swexan

Salvador Dali, one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, was never shy about his love of luxury. “Liking money like I like it is nothing less than a mysticism,” he said in a quote from New York Times article about his life at the age of 80. “Money is a glory.”

Four years later, at the age of 84, Dali was severely injured in a fire in his castle in Spain and died soon after of his injuries in the mansion that now serves as a museum to his life. To afford his extravagant lifestyle while he was alive, Dali not only sold his paintings, but also appeared in advertisements for brands such as Braniff International Airways and Alka-Seltzer. He also reputedly signed his name on thousands of sheets of blank paper so that they could later be printed with lithographs and sold for income.

It is easy to imagine Dali’s ghost drifting with the trade winds from Spain to Texas, and stopping for his favorite cocktail, the Casanova, at Babou’s, a nightclub in the bottom floor of Hôtel Swexan, a 134-room boutique hotel that recently opened in Dallas. Named after Dali’s pet ocelot, whom he famously called an ordinary cat “painted over in an op art design,” Babou’s is appropriately swathed in a leopard print rug. It has the feel of a place where a mega-star like Taylor Swift would hang out with her entourage after playing a sold out show at the nearby AT&T Stadium. (Dali’s ghost, it goes without saying, would ask for a photograph with her.) Adorned with black and white photographs of Dali in front of artworks, and hanging out with celebrities of his time, the space is stuffed with red leather couches, gilded frames, velvet drapes and even a room full of bookshelves, but it doesn’t feel overdone. Instead, it feels like pure luxury. Or, as Dali would have said, like glory.

Babou’s is one of five hospitality concepts in Hôtel Swexan, the latest offering from Harwood International, the family-owned real estate group that has developed 19 city blocks in the heart of uptown Dallas. Designed by Kengo Kuma, the Japanese architect who also created the Tokyo Olympics Stadium, the hotel is meant to serve as “a bustling block in New York City turned vertically,” says Melinda Clark, the design director at Harwood International. Each space, she added, “is perfectly designed to take you on a journey that you never want to leave.” The name, which is a moniker of “Swiss meets Texas,” embodies many dualities. In the design, lush materials are used with tasteful restraint; indoor spaces seamlessly combine with outdoor terraces designed to look out over city gardens; each space embodies an entirely different mood, ranging from old Hollywood glamour to English teahouse to Moroccan souck. “We create food and environments that take you from Dallas and make you feel you are in another place and time,” says Clark of the Harwood district, of which Hôtel Swexan is the most recent addition.

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

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