This is the first part of Tim Gaylord’s three-phase exploration of the Hilton Curio Collection. For more on the Curio Collection, check out part 2 (Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida) and part 3 (Hotel Reichshof in Hamburg, Germany).
In June of 2014 the Hilton Hotel Group embarked on what I feel might be one of its best endeavors yet: the Curio Collection. The Curio Collection was created by Hilton to meet the needs of today’s modern traveler seeking an authentic experience. By allowing Curio hotels the opportunity to maintain their individual identities, Hilton has proven its commitment to making each stay a unique experience while meeting the high hospitality standards required to be part of the HHG family.
Tip: All of the fantastic benefits of being a Hilton HHonors member apply to guests of staying at Curio hotels.
A recent journey with the hotel group brought me to several cities—and three of its 13 Curio Collection hotels in the US and Europe:
1. The Highland Dallas, Dallas, TX
My first stop was Dallas, where everything is bigger and there’s never a shortage of local flair.
The Highland Dallas is a high-end boutique hotel conveniently located about 10-minutes north of downtown Dallas. With the first stage of renovations complete, the Highland is a perfect hotel if you’re planning to visit the Dallas area for work, to vacation, to host an event, or to catch a Cowboys, Mavericks or Stars game.
The renovation process is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2016 and includes a redesign of all guest rooms and suites, guest corridors, all meeting and event spaces, guest elevators, the fitness center, the pool area, and the outdoor patio area. To maintain a Texas modern/chic feel, the hotel group is working closely with local design firm Flick Mars.
Until then: The current rooms at The Highland are comfortable and spacious and they have fantastic beds. Suites have adjoining living areas that double the square footage of a standard room and once the new room designs are complete, they’ll emphasize a Texan lifestyle. Room rates at The Highland start at $199 per night but be sure to check their site for availability, pricing and deals.
While there are plenty of reasons to venture out and experience some of the world’s best steakhouses in Dallas, there’s an even better reason not to leave the hotel. Located next to the hotel’s main lobby is Knife, a modern steakhouse and the creation of James Beard-nominated chef John Tessar. The website coins it best: “The cuisine at Knife melds classic and modern steakhouse dishes featuring all-natural born and raised Texas beef, pork and lamb in dry-aged prime cuts prepared in cast irons and customary steakhouse broilers, as well as specialty cuts such as chuck flap, outside skirt, tri tip, culet, beef cheeks, beef tongue, oxtail, and exotic Akaushi beef.” The food is amazing and the atmosphere is buzzing.
A perfect place to relax and unwind, the pool at the hotel is a quiet, serene area located over the main courtyard and Exhale Spa. When I stopped by the pool area it was pretty empty and almost all the chaise lounge chairs were available.
A social lobby
Although the hotel is able to provide up to 13,000 square feet of meeting space and can accommodate up to 500 people, the lobby is a great setting for a smaller group looking to have a few drinks before dinner. It’s located between the main lobby of the hotel and the entrance to Knife steakhouse.
4 downtown Dallas smokehouses
Downtown Dallas may be known primarily as a business/financial district, but there’s a fantastic wave of artistic and cultural gentrification moving in on the downtown Dallas area. Since Texas is home to some of the best smokehouses and barbecue spots in the country, I set out to pay visit to a few local hotspots to sample some of the best eateries in Dallas. In addition to links for some up-and-coming areas worth checking out while visiting Dallas, I’ve also attached links to the local smokehouses from those areas that are must-visits.
- Bishop Arts District — Smokehouse: Lockhart Smokehouse
- Deep Ellum — Smokehouse: Pecan Lodge
- Design District — Smokehouse: The Slow Bone
- The Cedars — Smokehouse: Baby Back Shak
I have to pay homage to everyone at Odom’s. As my driver on this day put it best: “Tim, you of all people should know that if you want the best food you’ve got to go into the hood.” I’m not certain if Odom’s is in the hood but that’s where he brought me and I loved it. Big ups to Odom’s.
Stampede 66 for more formal
In the event you’re heading out for a more formal dinner outside the hotel, Stampede 66 is the place for you. Located about 10 minutes via Uber from the hotel, this modern Texas eatery is the creation of James Beard-winner for best new chef in the southwest, Stephan Pyles. The brisket is some of the best I’ve ever had and if you have the chance, try the “Honey-Fried Chicken.”
The Exhale spa
If you’re having a difficult time finding zen through endless channels of ribs, brisket and steak, perhaps the hotel’s Exhale spa might be the answer you’re looking for. The Highland’s renowned Exhale spa is a full-service spa compete with yoga classes and the famous Exhale pole class. They offer a full range of in-room or poolside massages that range in price from $100 for a 30-minute Fusion massage to $200 for a deep tissue massage. Check out a full list of offers and pricing here.
The State Fair of Texas: September 30, 2016 – October 23, 2016
The say everything is bigger in Dallas and the State Fair of Texas is no exception to the rule. From the last week of September through the 24th of October, Dallas is home to what is considered by many to be one of the largest and best fairs in the country. This slice of Americana is really something to experience and even better if you can arrange to see behind the scenes of the livestock process. General admission to the fair costs $18, $14 for children and free if they’re under two years of age. Senior tickets are $14 and food and ride coupons are $0.50 each. The fair grounds are about 10/15 minutes from The Highland.
The State Fair of Texas has kids games like no other. They’re bigger, brighter and almost impossible to walk by without playing. Granted there’s nobody participating at the vendor station above, but I waited for everyone to clear the frame before taking this shot.
Next Curio Collection stop: The Diplomat Hollywood, Florida.