D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Stoneleigh, Heartbreak Hotel

Jason Heid | 7/30/2014 9:14:07 AM

Have you heard anyone refer to the Stoneleigh Hotel on Maple Avenue as Le Méridien Dallas? I haven’t, thankfully. Just like when the Melrose Hotel on Oak Lawn was rechristened with a corporate name — in that case, the Warwick — local tradition has remained important enough that ownership had to maintain the historic moniker.

I understand why these hotel operators feel the need to put their own brands on their acquisitions. They want to reassure out-of-town visitors who’ve stayed at their other properties, but who are unfamiliar with Dallas, that they will receive the same quality of experience they’ve had in other cities.  It’s the same reason that McDonald’s continues to do big business — familiarity counts for a lot with consumers. Why risk  stopping in at a mom-and-pop burger joint that may not be any good when McDonald’s is right down the street and you know precisely what you’re going to get, as mediocre as it might be?

So there’s financial sense in enticing guests to book a room at Le Méridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh. But I don’t have to like it, and neither should you. It dilutes and degrades the sense of place that the hotel built over the decades — even after its major renovation in the mid-Aughts — to paint it as just another link in a chain. Good for business, bad for the soul.

I feel this loss even more painfully after re-reading A.C. Greene’s November 1977 story about the prevalence of recently separated and divorced men living at the Stoneleigh. It’s one of the 40 greatest stories ever published in D Magazine.

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