Gentrification generally gets a bad rap, but sometimes it’s a welcome force. The Hotel Emma, in the beautifully hip Pearl district of San Antonio is probably the best example of a welcome regeneration. Not far from the historic downtown San Antonio, the 146-room hotel was originally a brewery, and the design makes great use of these original features – we had a private drink inside a snazzily refurbished brewing vat and gazed up at old beer bottling machines repurposed as chandeliers. It all adds up to a striking building that manages to be both cavernous and cosy. Rooms are highceilinged and luxurious without feeling sterile. The place oozes history and has a cosy, lived-in feel. The food is a mixture of traditional and creative and served on the banks of the San Antonio river, which you can walk along all the way downtown, stopping in a selection of hip bars for refreshments. The Emma is surrounded by an array of restaurants in the sprawling Pearl plaza, where there is also a twiceweekly farmers market, cool coffee shops and a live music venue. Hip luxury, craft beers and all the Texan food you could ever want – this is certainly a fabulous base for visiting the city.