Need a quiet retreat but can’t leave town? Or maybe you’d like a romantic place to celebrate that special occasion. Here are nine hotels where you can get out of Dallas without leaving the city limits.

BEST HOTEL FOR A SHAG

Hotel ZaZa
2332 Leonard St. 214-468-8399
www.hotelzaza.com
$195-$1,500

VIBE: Dallas was in dire need of some funk, and Hotel ZaZa has officially upped the city’s cool quotient. (Even Pop Princess Britney Spears, who visited the last weekend in March, found ZaZa hip enough to stay.) This four-storied, 146-room boutique hotel is reminiscent of a villa in the south of France—except for the ugly Shell station it overlooks. With casually elegant Mediterranean ambience, there is no mistaking that this place is sexy. The décor may be a bit over the top, but that’s part of the fun. Thirteen themed suites are the draw here, from the Erotica Suite, with its black shag carpet, floor-to-ceiling mirror, and built-for-two tub, to the colorful and fun psychedelic kitsch of the Shagadelic Suite.

DINING: Dragonfly (see our review on p. 91), the much-ballyhooed restaurant and lounge developed by celebrity chef Stephan Pyles, features an eclectic mix of Asian- and Mediterranean-inspired dishes served in a dining room that complements the hotel.

BEDTIME: Though it could be bigger, the bed was comfy and plush, with lots of pillows (black and lacy in the Erotica Suite, of course) and a down comforter for super snuggling.

TOILETRIES WORTH STEALING: Mario Russo "Olive Juice" bubble bath. That is, if you don’t use it up during your stay. —Jennifer Chininis  


MOST ROMANTIC HOTEL

The Mansion on Turtle Creek
2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 214-559-2100
www.mansiononturtlecreek.com
$325-$2,400

VIBE: All of the money you might have put toward airfare is better spent on a suite at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, the 143-room luxury hotel off Turtle Creek Boulevard. This one-time private residence of a Texas cotton magnate is now Rosewood’s flagship property—and with good reason. When we arrived, we discovered champagne and strawberries with fresh chocolate fondue in our top-floor, three-room suite. The private terrace had sweeping views of the city—the perfect backdrop for a couples massage at sunset. While we bathed in the enormous marble shower (and dried off with heated towels), the attentive waitstaff pressed our dinner clothes and polished our shoes. Nice touch. But not as nice as the candles, flowers, port, chocolate, and aromatherapy bubble bath that were waiting for us after dinner, or the fragrant rose petals—in the shape of a heart—that decorated the four-poster bed.

DINING: The Mansion is one of the few places left where gentlemen are required to wear a jacket to dinner. Gorge on a six-course tasting meal that includes Dean Fearing’s famous lobster tacos, succulent foie gras, roast quail, and a selection of desserts, such as the Mansion crème brûlée with raspberry sauce. The cheerful sommelier selected wine for every course and even gave us a copy of his personal list of wine-related web sites. After dinner, the Mansion bar is a dark, clubby room perfect for sipping cognac. Room service created a breakfast worthy of royalty, with berry compote, juice blends, apple-smoked bacon, eggs, and to-die-for waffles—all served in the morning sunshine on the terrace.

BEDTIME: Plush sheets and down pillows, topped with a heavy down-filled duvet, made for a luxurious spot to turn the pages of the book the staff had chosen for our bedtime reading pleasure. The bookmark was the weather forecast for the next day.

TOILETRIES WORTH TAKING: Bring along a heavy-duty suitcase if you plan to run off with any of the Lady Primrose products, including shampoo, lotion, and talc. Encased in heavy glass and topped with silver lids, they’re nice enough to give as gifts. —Aimee Deputy


BEST HOTEL FOR SOLITUDE

The Melrose Hotel
3015 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-521-5151
www.melrosehotel.com
$149-$395

VIBE: The Melrose was built in 1924, and today the historic Dallas landmark still oozes old-world elegance in its well-appointed lobby and rooms. Don’t come here expecting room service or a variety of channels on cable TV. But you don’t go to any hotel just for the room service, now do you? What the Melrose lacks in customary amenities it makes up for in the Landmark Restaurant and Library Bar, one of the coziest, sexiest bars in town. Settle down in a wingback chair opposite your date, listen to some classic piano tunes, and order a martini. It’s the reason we wanted to come to the Melrose in the first place. The only difference this time was our bed was just a few flights up.

DINING: The Landmark, where East Coast mentality meets Southern hospitality with chef Doug Brown’s New American cuisine.

BEDTIME: Lots of pillows (five!). Though the sheets were not the highest thread count, the bed was definitely sleepable, especially after a visit to the Library Bar.

TOILETRIES WORTH TAKING: Gilchrist & Soames sensual sea salt bath crystals and personal loofah. —Kristie Ramirez


BEST HOTEL DEAL

Hotel Lawrence
302 S. Houston St. 214-761-9090 www.hotellawrence.com
From $79

VIBE: Too bad the sports franchises have moved out of Reunion, because Hotel Lawrence would have been the perfect spot to crash after a Mavs game. But that shouldn’t stop you from booking a night in this historic, 118-room hotel. The lobby is warm and clubby, with wood paneling and wall sconces and the smell of chocolate chip cookies lingering in the air. The rooms are small and efficient, like the rooms at a New York City hotel—without the NYC price tag. Pets under 30 pounds are welcome, so your pooch can join you on an overnight excursion.

DINING: Downstairs is Houston Street (a destination in its own right), where you can indulge in specialties such as poached wild striped bass, muscovy duck breast a l’orange, or honey-roasted Niman Ranch pork. Houston Street also provides room service for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is a complimentary continental buffet.

BEDTIME: 230-thread-count linens, but the pillows were a little too puffy for our liking.

TOILETRIES WORTH TAKING: Not one. But the bathroom is the coolest part of the room, with its modern pedestal sink and sleek, superwide showerhead, so all is forgiven. —J.C.


MOST HISTORIC HOTEL

The Stoneleigh Hotel
2927 Maple Ave. 214-871-7111 www.stoneleighhotel.com
From $109

VIBE: The history here is contagious. The penthouse (now used as banquet space) was once home to Hard Rock Cafe and House of Blues founder Isaac Tigrett, and it’s filled with secret passageways, trap doors, and the like—all rumored to have been built for the many mistresses who once lived in the hotel. Since new management took over in August 2002, the 153-room hotel is undergoing a $2 million facelift. The Stoneleigh is serious about preservation (the hotel is celebrating its 80th birthday this year), so don’t expect a brand-new Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom, and definitely request a renovated room for your stay. But the hotel’s faults are part of its charm.

DINING: The only on-site dining is Nineteen Twenty Three (formerly Seville), under the helm of chef Jose Cifuentes. However, the star of this show is 33-year-veteran Miss Minnie, who serves a wonderful eggs Benedict at brunch and is possibly one of the best sources of Dallas history in town. The dinner menu features American continental cuisine with nightly specials, such as pesto-seared sea bass, peppered with longtime traditions, such as chicken and dumplings, which has been served every Wednesday night for 30 years. The surrounding area is littered with restaurants within walking distance, including Nick & Sam’s, Lola, and Perry’s. For a more casual experience, head across the street to the Stoneleigh P for a pumpernickel bread burger.

BEDTIME: Because the hotel was originally an apartment building, the rooms are all generous in size and unique in décor. Despite the chintzy Laura Ashley-esque bed coverings, you’ll have a great night’s sleep. A few drinks in the Lion’s Den won’t hurt the cause, either.

TOILETRIES WORTH TAKING: Aside from the Gilchrist & Soames soaps, bubble bath, and shampoo, the most alluring item was a Frette bathrobe—but it’ll set you back $55. —Jessica Shapard


BEST HOTEL FOR DOWNTOWN COOL

The Magnolia Hotel
1401 Commerce St. 214-915-6500
www.themagnoliahotel.com
$119-$700

VIBE: When the Magnolia Building opened in 1922, it was Dallas’ first skyscraper and the tallest structure south of Washington, D.C. The 29-story refurbished downtown hotel may be dwarfed by other buildings now, but the Magnolia still has plenty of swagger and style. The 330 rooms (including 130 suites) are retro-hip, with plenty of browns and tans, all done with an art-deco feel that is simultaneously classic and fresh. Because about half of the rooms are extended-stay suites, business types are typically in the spacious common area on the second floor. But there’s always a comfortable chair available to enjoy a complimentary evening cocktail and feel cool.

DINING: A complimentary breakfast buffet is served daily, but there’s no on-site restaurant. No complaints, though, because the French brasserie Jeroboam is a short walk away, and the front desk will gladly make reservations for you. Get the "Feed Me, Wine Me," a fixed-price option that pairs four courses with four glasses of wine.

BEDTIME: The mattress was firm without being, you know, industrial, and the sheets were soft enough to make getting out of bed an unwanted task.

TOILETRIES WORTH TAKING: Sadly, none. And where were the fluffy robes we were so looking forward to? —Adam McGill 


MOST CHARMING HOTEL  

Hotel St. Germain
2516 Maple Ave. 214-871-2516
www.hotelstgermain.com
$290-$650

VIBE: Toto, we don’t think we’re in Dallas anymore. Owner Claire Heymann has filled this seven-suite, turn-of-the-century boutique hotel with antiques from France and New Orleans, giving Hotel St. Germain a charming European/Southern ambience. All of the suites have 14-foot ceilings, canopied feather beds, and working fireplaces. Upon arrival, our butler Dean treated us to a complimentary glass of champagne and appetizer tray, then introduced us to the amenities of our room, including how to light the fireplace and use the CD player. Downstairs, a fire-lit parlor is the perfect backdrop for a post-dinner Courvoisier, and the adjoining Library is a wonderful space to relax with herbal tea and the Sunday New York Times.

DINING: Crystal, china, and silver, oh my! (Ms. Heymann’s Limoge collection is a sight to behold.) Guests dine Tuesday through Saturday on a seven-course feast, featuring fine European recipes in a candlelit dining room that overlooks the ivy-covered garden courtyard. Breakfast of freshly baked French pastries, hand-squeezed orange juice, and fruit is delivered to your room on a silver tray.

BEDTIME: After dinner, we returned to find our cushy, 300-thread-count sheets turned down and the entire bed covered with rose petals. Minutes later, the two Grand Marnier soufflés we had ordered at dinner arrived, and we sat among the petals and ate the soufflés with silver spoons.

TOILETRIES WORTH TAKING: Because we couldn’t fit the massive soaking tub or the antique ceramic tile fireplace into our bags, we settled for the generous supply of Bulgari products. —Nancy Nichols


MOST REGAL HOTEL


Photo by James Bland


Hotel Adolphus
1321 Commerce St. 214-742-8200
www.hoteladolphus.com
Rates from $195

VIBE: The Adolphus may be living in the shadow of the French Room, its famed, five-star restaurant, but the 428-room hotel itself deserves accolades. Built in 1912 by Adolphus Busch of Budweiser beer fame, the hotel’s rooms are a mix of old and new, with English country décor and sleek, marble baths (and high-speed Internet, for those of you who refuse to disconnect). The Adolphus offers many special packages for weekend stays that will make you feel as if you’ve traveled much farther than just to downtown. Try the Return to Romance package ($450 per night) in a two-bedroom, three-bath suite, which includes champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival; a turn-down service in which the bed is covered in pink and red rose petals; two plush, terry-cloth robes for lounging; and breakfast on the terrace overlooking downtown. Afternoon tea in the hotel "living room" is lovely, with finger sandwiches, scones, fruit tarts, and hand-dipped chocolate truffles.

DINING: For dinner, make reservations at the French Room, one of the prettiest and most romantic dining rooms in Dallas. Service is as impeccable as the classic French cuisine. Afterward, enjoy a glass of sherry in the French Room Lounge.

BEDTIME: You may feel like you’re in The Princess and the Pea when you climb the footstool to the canopied, four-poster bed in the master bedroom, but it’s worth the work. The down pillows are rather overstuffed, but the rose-petal turn-down service could lead anyone into a deep, well-deserved sleep.

TOILETRIES WORTH TAKING: Can you say Bulgari and Hermès? You may find yourself hunting down the housekeeping cart to pilfer more of the ultra-luxurious goodies. —J.S.


BEST COWTOWN COMFORT

The Ashton Hotel
610 Main St., Fort Worth. 866-327-4866
www.theashtonhotel.com
$250-$770

VIBE: History and luxury go hand in hand at this 39-room boutique hotel featuring a combination of grand Italian architecture and contemporary details. The 1915 building was transformed into the Ashton in 2001 and is only a block away from the Bass Performance Hall and Sundance Square. Because the hotel is carved out of an existing historic space, no two rooms are alike. Happily, the Ashton’s small size translates into personal attention the minute the valet whisks your vehicle away. Twenty-four-hour concierge and room service satisfy your every indulgence, and the smartly appointed, oversize rooms each feature pedestal sinks, 12-foot-high ceilings, and a two-person Jacuzzi bathtub, ideal for a romantic liaison. Complimentary wine and chocolate-dipped strawberries complete the seduction.

DINING: If seared scallops with warm brie and saffron cream sound tasty, then you’ll love Cafe Ashton’s global-inspired cuisine. The praiseworthy Continental American fare is set in a dining room awash in a warm and romantic blend of gold and beige. If you want an upscale taste of Fort Worth’s Wild West heritage, try the Texas cuisine of the nearby Chisholm Club or Lonesome Dove in the Fort Worth Stockyards, a short cab ride away.

BEDTIME: Not too hard. Not too soft. Yes, it’s just right—a king-sized bed in every room decked out with down pillows, comforters, and Frette Italian linens.

TOILETRIES WORTH TAKING: Stock your suitcase with luxurious soaps, lotions, and shampoos from Gilchrist & Soames. The comfy, waffle-weave bathrobe, however, will cost you extra. —Todd Johnson