If, as I rolled up to The Hotel Emma, sunken deep into the quilted pillow backseat of a jet black Cadenza, if my mind was centered in that moment on the type of pen that would be waiting for me in the room, I’d have thought, based on the heavy reduce/reuse/recycle vibe the 5-star digs was throwing as a first impression, thanks in no small part to the sleek black lettering spelling out the property’s name on the facade of the former Pearl Brewery building and the fact that they pull off the rare two font maneuver with glowing results, and their crest — oh my yes their ‘H’ and ‘E’ intertwined crest — that the pen inside the room wouldn’t be a pen at all, but rather, something like a fine graphite pencil made locally and sourced from native Baldcypress wood or, somehow, from recycled old toothbrush handles or some such consumer product once left for dead.
There would be a natural symmetry in adding such a farm to table type paragraph to the Hotel Emma story.
But no, none of this was the case.
The should-be uniquely branded Hotel Emma upcycled graphite pencil is merely a pen. A pedestrian, run of the boringest mill imaginable plastic white clicker pen that sits, devoid of any poetry at all, atop the otherwise impressive Hotel Emma branded notepad and alongside the positively gorgeous, retro-styled pocket-sized San Antonio Field Guide.
Hotel Emma’s in-room package of tiny literary delights could be, should be, complimented by a memorable writing instrument; a pen or a pencil as significant and well-constructed as the exceptional building that houses it.
For a hotel property that so obviously paid hyper close, nose-to-nose, painstaking attention to every minute glorious detail in transforming a turn of the last century industrial space into a modern, luxurious accommodation for visitors to San Antonio, the Hotel Emma pen seems a shameful afterthought, like, ‘oh shit we forget to order pens and we open our doors at the weekend. Jimmy, quick upload our logo and buy the cheapest pens that can be here in 2 days’.
Hotel Emma, as it exists above and around the pens, inside and out, from every folded hand towel in the bathroom to each wooden plank and ceramic tile on the flooring, from the exquisite bouquets on the tables at breakfast to the be-still-my-font-loving-heart typesetting EVERYWHERE on-site, is note perfect. This place is perfect. Well, nearly.
The Hotel Emma in San Antonio is quite possibly the finest hotel in which I’ve ever stayed, but their pen suggests a Clarion Inn 2.3 miles from a regional airport in some Midwestern city, a forgettable place with an ever-present whiff of cigarette smoke and a flaccid breakfast buffet, a lone stale pot of decaf coffee and a rickety free airport shuttle. I don’t think that’s a comparison the Hotel Emma was going for.
I beg you to make your pens (or pencils, seriously, look into it) mighty, Hotel Emma. Provide to your guests a pen that speaks lovingly and will write volumes about your elegance and class.
*My stay at The Hotel Emma in February of 2017 was part of a Kia press trip to attend the National Product Introduction of the Kia Niro which was hosted at the hotel. All opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, obviously.