Texan folklore has it that Dallas was established by hookers and horse rustlers. If that’s true, it seems those ne’er-do-wells had a knack for urban design, too.
Not only is the Big D built to a perfect grid, it’s also roughly equidistant from the United States’ east and west coasts, which has seen its airport become one of the busiest in the world in terms of footfall.
Forbes magazine pinpointed Dallas as the No 1. place to buy property in America in 2017, as growth – in terms of both population and international business – continues to accelerate. Things are very much on the up and up here; even the Dallas Cowboys have their best team in a generation and look to be Super Bowl contenders again.
The majority of business is centred on Downtown Dallas, about 35 kilometres from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. From here, the neighbourhoods fan out in every direction, most notably the vogueish Dallas Design District to the north-west and hipster haven Deep Ellum to the east. Head north and you’ll find Lower Greenville with its bustling cafés, restaurants and rooftop bars, while south-west of Downtown is the Bishop Arts District, a hub of unconventional boutiques, concept stores and art galleries.
Throw in the Dallas Arts District (19 blocks crammed with museums, restaurants, theatres, a Norman Foster-designed opera house and the Dallas Museum of Art) and you have one of the most dynamic and entertaining – yet underrated – cities in the US.
THE ADOLPHUS HOTEL
The Adolphus is to the Big D what the Waldorf Astoria is to the Big Apple: a beloved historic hotel with a built-in social scene that’s been attracting locals for more than a century. Built in 1912, this Beaux Arts masterpiece has hosted Queen Elizabeth II and baseballer Babe Ruth, who enjoyed its timeless architecture, first-class service and dynamic Downtown location.
Business facilities The 2230 square metres of meeting space includes five boardrooms and 22 rooms. City Hall Bar is a lively co-working area that serves coffee and snacks.
Wi-fi Free throughout.
Food and drink At refurbished fine-diner The French Room, afternoon tea remains a drawcard. Rodeo Bar serves a mean Angus burger and is a more relaxed option.
Fitness and wellbeing There’s a spa and fitness centre but main bragging rights go to the rooftop pool with views of Downtown.
Run route For a three-kilometre loop, turn right onto Commerce Street then right at South Houston Street after six blocks. Pass Dealey Plaza and the historic grassy knoll outside the old Texas School Book Depository. Turn right at the tram line and return to the hotel via Pacific Avenue, with another right turn at North Harwood Street.
Coffee nearby Urban Blend Coffee Co. on Elm Street also does great smoothies.
1321 Commerce Street, Downtown
Housed in the former Dallas National Bank building, a magnificent Neo-Gothic edifice on Main Street, The Joule is the city’s hottest and most stylish hotel. It’s renowned for its spectacular cantilevered rooftop pool, world-class subterranean spa and multimillion-dollar art collection displayed throughout. The hotel’s underground cocktail bar, Midnight Rambler, is one of the city’s most prominent nightspots, where the in-crowd goes to see and be seen (but sometimes struggles to be heard above the music).
Business facilities There’s more than 2780 square metres of indoor and outdoor meeting space, from terraces and salons to boardrooms and ballrooms.
Wi-fi Free throughout.
Food and drink Buzzing Americano restaurant is great for lunch; check out the pizza menu and request a patio seat for people-watching. The cream of the crop for dinner is CBD Provisions, where the Texas bouillabaisse with gulf shrimp, mussels, spinach, calamari and saffron aïoli is a must-order.
Fitness and wellbeing The 24-hour fitness centre is fitted out with aerobic equipment, free weights and strength-training machines. Deep beneath the lobby is one of the best spas in North America. A luxurious underground oasis, The Spa at The Joule is a geothermally inspired healing grotto with splashes of space-age technology. The adjacent Vital Fitness Studio offers group sessions in cycling, yoga, boxing and high-intensity interval training.
Run route Turn right onto Main Street and head east. Pass pretty Main Street Garden Park on your right before heading under the flyover and into Deep Ellum. Turn left onto Hall Street then left onto Elm Street to return to the hotel, a loop of four kilometres.
Coffee nearby The Joule has its own outstanding coffee shop, Weekend.
1530 Main Street, Downtown
ON TURTLE CREEK
Built in 1925 as the palatial home of a cotton baron, this mansion on a landscaped estate of almost two hectares was converted into a luxury hotel in 1979. Revered for its Renaissance-style décor, impeccable service and The Mansion Restaurant, it remains a Texan icon. Unlike Dallas’s other five-star options, it’s a short drive from Downtown, located on a terraced hill near the well-heeled suburb of Highland Park.
Business facilities Fully equipped private business offices of various sizes can be reserved, while more formal meetings can be held in one of the larger event spaces such as the Sheppard King Suite. Car transfers to off-site meetings within a five-mile (eight-kilometre) radius are complimentary.
Wi-fi Free throughout.
Food and drink The Mansion Restaurant is lauded for its global twist on American cuisine, while Mansion Bar is perfect for mingling in stylish surroundings, closing deals and toasting new partnerships (try the hotel’s signature gin and tonic).
Fitness and wellbeing The outdoor pool with a Tuscan-inspired sun terrace is a genuine treat, particularly in a city where summer is almost permanent. The sizeable state-of-the-art gym is open 24/7 and personal training sessions are available on request.
Run route Cross over Turtle Creek Boulevard to meet up with the Katy Trail, a 5.6-kilometre pedestrian path that takes in some of the city’s parks.
Coffee nearby Popular neighbourhood haunt Oak Lawn Coffee is a 10-minute stroll from the hotel.
2821 Turtle Creek Boulevard, Uptown
OMNI DALLAS HOTEL
On the underdeveloped south side of Downtown, the Omni Dallas Hotel offers spectacular views of the city skyline. Add an incredible rooftop pool, an impressive 1001 rooms and skybridge access to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center – the largest in Dallas – and it’s ideal for hosting business travellers.
Business facilities The hotel can accommodate 2500 attendees in the Dallas Ballroom and has more than 13,200 square metres of function space, both indoor and outdoor. There’s even an on-site UPS Store for shipping presentation materials in and out.
Wi-fi Free throughout.
Food and drink Enjoy cocktails by the fire pit on the Uptown Terrace, on the fourth-floor pool deck, with glorious views over Downtown. Texas Spice, which focuses on Southern classics made with fresh, local ingredients, serves three meals daily. Other dining options include Bob’s Steak & Chop House and The Owners Box, a sports bar and grill.
Fitness and wellbeing Treadmills in the 24-hour fitness centre overlook Dallas’s skyline. The heated outdoor infinity swimming pool is open year-round, while Mokara Spa offers a full range of treatments.
Run route To access the 7.5-kilometre Trinity Skyline Trail, turn right onto South Market Street then left onto Commerce Street and continue over the bridge to the trailhead at Trinity Overlook Park.
Coffee nearby As well as excellent brews, Opening Bell Coffee serves breakfast tacos in the morning and live music at night.
555 South Lamar Street, Downtown
Tips for Travelling in Dallas
- Forget about public transport – Dallas is a driving city. So if you don’t have a hire car, taxis or Uber are your best bet. Fortunately, price surges here are rarer than in most American cities.
- Tip, tip, tip. Tip your barista, tip your Uber driver, tip your Stetson hat from Wild Bill’s. This is a town where manners are important. Remember to use “Sir” and “Ma’am” whenever possible and always add a tip of at least 15 per cent to any transaction.
- If in doubt, go the Cowboys. America’s Team – aka the Dallas Cowboys – are a city-wide obsession. Even the rare few who don’t follow the scores will have an opinion, normally about owner Jerry Jones or star quarterback Dak Prescott. Simply asking about the team will endear you to 90 per cent of locals.
Top image: The Joule's lobby. Photography credit (Adolphus): Steven Visneau