This photo was taken 80+ years after William and Mary Menger opened their hotel in 1859. They built the 2-story, 50 room hotel to accommodate guests who visited their popular brewery. Menger's brewery was built on the battlegrounds of the Alamo, just 19 years after the historic battle. That's sounds like an invitation to ghosts.
The Menger today, looks pretty similar to how it looked nearly 80 years ago. The historic section on the right, with wrought-iron balconies, houses the original lobby and guest rooms from 158 years ago. Although, there were only 2 floors initially.
The entrance into the historic section shows the patterned tile floors that were added in 1909.
The New Lobby
The "new" lobby from 1909 looks drastically modern. I liked the large windows that looked out to the Spanish Garden, with rocking chairs. The weather was balmy on January 2, so I'm surprised I didn't catch anyone rocking.
Columns and Christmas
I was glad we had our stay before Christmas decorations were taken down. The view of the old, oval shaped lobby was even more grand than I remembered.
I had fun digging up a few old photos from past stays for comparison. In 2003, we stayed with another family and took photos of our kids with the giant tree. On this visit, without kids to pose, I had time to study the corinthian columns and marble. I zoomed in on both photos and noticed the change in wallpaper on the upper floors. I believe the most recent renovation was 2016.
The courtyard garden was as lovely as I remembered. The totally enclosed space was tranquil with the fountain, palms and pansies. In 2003, we had breakfast with the kids on the patio, just outside the formal dining room.
Elevators were added over the years, but we chose the stairs most of the time. One flight up, gave an impressive view of the ornate corinthian columns which were added in the 1909 renovation. We got an extra good view of the Christmas angel from this floor.
Going Up... Looking Down
From the third floor we could look down at the marble column bases and tile floor, as well as the top of the tree.
Finding Our Room
We made sure to book one of the historic rooms. Our small room on the second floor had a framed print of the Alamo battle, right outside our door. The gruesome image was a reminder that there might be ghosts from the battle, wandering down our hall.
Our small room felt larger when we opened the 15-foot shutters, that reached from floor to ceiling. The step up into the bathroom with vintage tile, was a reminder that originally there was no plumbing. The room was quite emaculate, except the pillows were oddly askew. (I fixed them before the photo) Now, I'm wondering if the ghost of Sallie White was messing with our room. She was a Menger chambermaid who was murdered near the hotel by her husband. Her ghost is one of the most well-known.
The best rooms are on the front of the building, but I liked our view better. Instead of touristy t-shirt shops or Ripley's, we got to view the courtyard. It was especially lovely at night.
The Colonial Dining Room
Because San Antonio's Riverwalk was just steps away, we went wandering for dinner and missed out on a classic hotel dining experience. There's some great food history at the hotel. Mary Menger used to do the shopping and cooking herself. At the turn of the century mango ice cream was one of the most famous desserts in Texas. It's a favorite at The Menger, today. I wish we would have at least stopped in for dessert and coffee!
The old phone booths were a reminder of a different day. I tried to picture how the men and women were dressed, back when those booths were in constant use. Further back, during the Civil War, a whole different crowd filled the hotel. The Menger ended up closing to regular customers, but provided boarding, food and hospital space for soldiers.
From the Balcony
Inside the pub, you can climb some stairs to a loft-like space, overlooking the bar. The paneled ceiling is so low it makes the area look like it was intended for kids.
Don and I have stayed at so many historic hotels, but The Menger ranks pretty high. It has the ability to take you back in time, with over 150 years of history. I like how the history of the western frontier blends with the flavors of Mexico. And I don't even mind flocks of tourists at the nearby Riverwalk and Alamo... especially when lit with Christmas lights. Hard to beat!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!