Staying at the Lorenzo Hotel in Dallas is like checking in at an art gallery and bumping into Albert Einstein and Tina Turner, with a liberal dose of Shakespeare, in a landscape where Salvador Dali would feel right at home. Have we Picassoed your curiosity? Let’s check into this edgy, art-centric hotel on the edge of Downtown Dallas to see what’s beyond the art. (We promise, no more bad art-world puns!)
The City of Dallas lays claim to the largest arts district in the U.S. of A., and takes great pride in revitalizing historic spaces. Those two seemingly random factoids come together in something else that seems a little random: An art-centric hotel in a reclaimed eyesore plopped unceremoniously next to a giant freeway.
This is the Lorenzo Hotel, and your first meeting may feel a little random, too. It looks like a hotel from the freeway, but definitely turns art gallery when you walk in. There are funky pieces of art all over the place. Literally; artwork covers the entry, hangs off the façade, and ushers you right into the lobby. Once your eyes have adjusted to the overflowing artworks, though, you’ll see there is no high-brow pretense, and the place doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The Art of the Lorenzo
The hotel’s seriously large collection seems more amassed than curated. There are more than 600 original works (see a sampling here), including the 42-foot umbrella erected in the meridian of Akard Street outside of the hotel. Most of the artwork is in bright white and pink, but also includes a wide range of black and white, and color photography. (Don’t miss the umbrella’s story in the video from the Lorenzo Hotel below!)
Speaking of photos, dozens of them are mounted on several columns in the lobby restaurant, like so many pictures on your family refrigerator. It took us a few moments to realize that each column has a theme, featuring luminaries from film, art, and music.
The art moves upstairs with you, in a very literal fashion. The elevators are a work of art themselves and, when the doors open, artwork spills down the hall and into your room. Handmade headboards, a framed paintbrush on the ceiling, and custom carpets with Hamlet’s soliloquies make each of the Lorenzo’s 237 guest rooms into a mini-gallery. Some feature the best work of art in town: Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Dallas Skyline. (A skyline voted, perhaps unbelievably, the best in the world by USA Today’s 10 Best!)
Outdoors, the Lorenzo is decked in art from top to bottom! A whimsical Albert Einstein mural fills the swimming pool, dapper blue gents pose in various locations, and ginormous birds are stenciled around the roof. Once the sun sets, the hotel’s neon art shines like a beacon of cool above the hot city streets, with Dallas’ larger lit-up buildings in the background.
History of the Lorenzo Hotel
The building we know as the Lorenzo Hotel began life as a Ramada Inn in 1972. Located just off of Interstate 30 as it cut through downtown Dallas, the hotel was easy to see and get to. Being close by the newly-expanded Dallas Convention Center made the hotel a favorite of convention goers, even holding overflow from the 1984 Republican National Convention where Ronald Reagan accepted the nomination for a second term.
The Tina Turner Story
Everybody loves a rock and roll story, and the Lorenzo Hotel has a good one, from those days as a Ramada Inn. On July 1, 1976, the Ike & Tina Turner Revue was in Dallas for a show, roughly a dozen years after recording The Ike & Tina Turner Show during live performances in Dallas and Fort Worth.
The famous couple was en route from the airport to perform at the Dallas Statler Hilton when they got into a fight in the limousine. As the story goes, Tina exited the automobile at a red light, and fled to the Ramada Inn. She had no identification, and no money, but she managed to convince the staff that she was indeed Tina Turner, running away from a violent Ike. The staff allowed her to hide out in the hotel that night, which ultimately ended in Tina filing for divorce later that month. The Lorenzo pays homage with their own little Tina Turner lobby shrine.
Rebirth as the Lorenzo Hotel
The Lorenzo Hotel is the brain child of real estate developer Larry Hamilton, who snapped up an old, derelict hotel back in 2006 with the intent of revitalizing the 12-story building. Instead, a recession took hold, and plans were back-burnered.
Fast-forward a decade – and toss in a heaping helping of development grants – and the ugly duckling has hatched as a beautiful swan. That is, the Lorenzo Hotel is a fun and fashionable boutique hotel, the latest revitalization success story in the up-and-coming Cedars District south of downtown Dallas.
Staying at the Lorenzo Hotel
We have talked about the art at the Lorenzo Hotel almost as if that’s all the hotel has going for it. That is not the case, but it is inescapable. That’s part of the experience, though. Make sure you take some time during your stay to just wander through the hotel, admiring as you go. While you’re at it, count the number of Instagram shots you take. There are more than a few “perfect” settings, but let’s look at the hotel’s high points.
Besides the artwork, you should spend some time admiring the menu at Lorenzo Kitchen, the onsite restaurant and bar. Since we live in the area, we’ve been known to stop in even when we’re not staying at the hotel. Combine Texas comfort food (West Texas Range Meatloaf? Yes please!) and southern favorites (Shrimp Po’boy? Yes please!) with lavish deserts (Lorenzo Bread Pudding, we’re looking at you!), and you run the risk of needing a post-dinner run. Just be sure to get back in time for cocktails, because Dallasites tend to enjoy Lorenzo’s bar.
While Lorenzo Kitchen does serve an excellent breakfast spread, we enjoy grabbing that most Texas of breakfast delicacies at the Kolache Stop. Fashioned from a collection of brightly colored shipping containers just across the driveway from the hotel, it’s easy to duck in and out, and get on with your day. At least, that’s usually the plan. Instead, when we get there early enough, we like to sit and watch the city come to life over a coffee and pastry. Note: The one thing we will ding the Kolache Stop for is not having dairy free options. That said, we realize there is a worldwide conspiracy against sausage kolaches without cheese. We’re still holding that against you, Lorenzo.
Let’s be honest: The Lorenzo Hotel is not for everyone. Sure, a whole mess of funky artwork might be fun down in the lobby. Waking up with it is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is, however, ours.
We’ve been fortunate to stay at Lorenzo a few times, and have enjoyed every stay. The rooms are kind of artsy, but they’re also very comfortable. Yes, there’s a paintbrush in a frame on the ceiling. Yes, those pillows are more like stuffed paintings. And yes, that is an oversized work lamp that makes you feel vaguely like you should be having a photo shoot. And????
A few more Yeses: That is a Keurig, with coffee and creamers. That is a full-length mirror in the dressing area. There is a safe – and ironing board – in the closet. There is a mini-fridge (no, not stocked with expensive snacks), and complimentary water. The beds are cozy, the towels are fluffy (and plentiful – for once, we didn’t have to ask for extras), and there are ample plugs and places to sit and read/work/eat. The vanity is stocked with Crabtree & Evelyn amenities, and there is a hairdryer, too.
The highlight of most rooms, though, is the view! A large chair by the window is the perfect place to sit and admire the downtown skyline. The table nearby has plenty of plugs to keep your laptop and devices powered. If work isn’t the diversion you were hoping for, there is a flat screen TV, or you can stream your favorites on the free wi-fi. But our favorite touch lies below: the custom-made carpet features Hamlet’s soliloquies by Shakespeare! Would you expect any less from an art hotel?
By the way, there is laundry (service and facilities) and dry cleaning available, if needed.
One more thing we love about the Lorenzo Hotel is that, even if you’re the only one at the pool, it feels like a pool party. Maybe it’s the giant chandelier hanging from the framework that once made up the Ramada Inn’s indoor pool. Maybe it’s the row of cabanas with Benjamins splashed across the back wall. No, it’s definitely Albert Einstein, and the Relativity Pool Bar. Proof again that this artsy hotel doesn’t take itself too seriously at all.
If you want a little more workout, you’ll be happy to know there is a fitness center at the Lorenzo Hotel as well. You won’t find Albert Einstein there, but you will find several treadmills, elipticals, and bikes, a weight stack and free weights, and medicine balls. All the better to work on the ultimate work of art: You!
For something a little less physically strenuous, take advantage of one of our favorite amenities: the Lorenzo’s lobby library! Didn’t bring a book? No worries. Grab something off the shelf to read in bed, poolside, or in those comfy lobby seats.
All of the fancy artwork in the world won’t keep you coming back to the Lorenzo Hotel. But you know what will? The staff. Wherever we went in the hotel, we were met with smiles and conversation. The waitstaff at Lorenzo Kitchen were prompt and professional, but also engaging and accommodating. While there were no issues with our room, when we did have a request, Housekeeping was on it like Banksy on a blank wall. But the lasting impression is always the first and last interaction you have, and that’s with the desk staff. The young men and women at Lorenzo so obviously took pride in their jobs, and loved the hotel. They had tips. They had stories. Most importantly, they had a desire to help. Which is why we have no problem recommending the Lorenzo Hotel to our friends coming into Dallas.
Note: Due to COVID-19 concerns, standard amenities have been replaced by single-use amenities and a travel-sized bag of hand sanitizer. Pens, paper and room service menus have been removed from rooms. A digital menu is available; other items are available on request and will be delivered in a no-contact method. Each room is disinfected and sealed, with a Lorenzo branded room seal on doors to indicate to guests that their room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned. The pool is open, but social distancing is enforced.
Rates & Loyalty Programs
The Lorenzo Hotel is affiliated with Preferred Hotels, and the I Prefer loyalty program. If you shop for hotels at Expedia or Booking.com, you can earn points for your stay there, too.
While rates vary, the Lorenzo Hotel usually has rooms starting at $120. A variety of rates are available, including Bed & Breakfast rates which are often under $200. Deluxe rooms and preferred suites have views of downtown Dallas. For an Extra Large Dallas experience, book one of the three theme suites: Zen, Cake, or Nomad, which offer larger spaces and over-the-top décor.
The Lorenzo Hotel is just outside of, but convenient to, downtown Dallas. Located just across the freeway from the gigantic Kay Baily Hutchison Convention Center, it’s a good option if you’re attending an event there. It is literally in walking distance (just under a mile), which can save you the cost of parking or rideshare. If you’re attending functions anywhere from downtown to the Cotton Bowl / Fair Park area, the Lorenzo Hotel makes an excellent base. If you’re road tripping, being right off Interstate 30 makes a convenient on-off for an overnight (or longer) stay in the heart of the Big D.
What’s Around the Lorenzo Hotel?
The rest of the downtown district, including the JFK Memorial, the new AT&T Discover District, Reunion Tower, Dallas World Aquarium, and the Dallas Farmers Market, are all within just a few miles. A little further out is AT&T Plaza, the Deep Ellum entertainment district, Bishop Arts shopping and gallery district, and the famous West End and Southside. That “biggest Arts District in the Country” we mentioned earlier, along with the Clyde Warren Park outdoor area, are on the opposite side of downtown.
Great Eats Nearby
While Lorenzo Kitchen is good, Dallas has a stellar dining scene. In Deep Ellum, you’ll find world class barbeque, routinely ranked among the best in Texas, at Pecan Lodge, and fantastic Ramen at Oni Ramen! Adjacent to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center is the Omni Dallas Hotel with Bob’s Chop House and Black Ship Little Katana for steak and sushi, respectively. Our recommendation, though, is to venture across the Trinity River for dinner at Trinity Groves. It’s a multi-venue incubator for restaurants and small retail, with some of the best and most innovative new chefs in North Texas. Grab a plate and enjoy patio dining with one of the best views in the city.
Safety in the Area
The Lorenzo Hotel’s location is a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s very convenient, but the area is in the midst of redevelopment, and much of it is still very industrial. Vacant buildings and empty lots dot the area, and have attracted the area’s homeless in recent years. While we’ve never had an issue here, and it’s improving by the day, it’s not someplace we would walk alone at night.
Summary: Why the Lorenzo Hotel is one of our Favorite Stays
“Wait a minute,” we hear you say. “If you live in the DFW area, why are you staying at the Lorenzo Hotel?”
Well, it’s just that cool. When we have an early or late event in Dallas, we’ll turn it into a mini-getaway by staying close by. Of the many great hotels downtown, Lorenzo is one of our favorites. We’ll also stop by the Kolache Stop for a quick bite before events at the Dallas Convention Center, or visit Lorenzo Kitchen for dinner afterwards. Plus, spending an afternoon in that pool before heading back home makes even a short getaway feel more like a vacation. #Bonus!
The next time you visit Dallas, try out the Lorenzo Hotel, and let us know about your experience in the comments!
Oh yes…about that umbrella…
Thanks for reading along.