Travel Tuesday: The Highland Dallas Hotel Review
In my previous Travel Tuesday installment, I shared my first real hotel review following my stay at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas. Well, just last week, my wife and I ended up on a business road trip to Dallas, Texas. And, while I didn’t go into my stay thinking I would write about my experience, I realized that there were plenty of things I wanted to share about The Highland. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what this boutique hotel I lucked into has to offer.
About The Highland
The Highland is located on Mockingbird Lane (insert The Munsters joke here) right off of the U.S. 75. Nearby is the Southern Methodist University campus and Moody Coliseum. In addition to the restaurant Knife being attached to the property, Exhale Spa is also accessible from the hotel. Other amenities include an infinity pool, a fitness center, and more.
Booking your stay (and how I booked mine)
As part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, it can be booked through the Hilton app or website in addition to third-party services. Incidentally, I first discovered The Highland by browsing American Express’s Hotel Collection. However, thanks to an Amex Offer I had for Hilton’s Curio Collection, it made more financial sense to book directly through the hotel chain. Thus, that’s exactly what I did.
My Experience at The Highland Dallas
The first thing I noticed upon entering The Highland was its size. Not only do guest rooms only go up to the ninth floor but each floor only has two dozen rooms or so (I didn’t count so I could very well be wrong). Having spent my last two trips in Las Vegas, this was quite a change.
Since I booked through Hilton, I figured I would just use the chain’s app to check in before simply heading up to my room and using the digital key once I arrived. This plan worked well enough until I got to said room and discovered that the digital key didn’t really want to work. Luckily, given the hotel’s small size, I was able to shoot downstairs, visit the front desk, and head back up to my room within five minute’s time. Sure, it was a small inconvenience but far, far, far from a dealbreaker.
Room and theming
Perhaps “theming” isn’t the right word and “decor” would be more appropriate here… but our room definitely had a style all its own. The Texas influence was easy to spot in features such as a wicker bull head in the bathroom and touches of cow print here and there. Also interesting was the photo print on the black-out shade. That may all sound strange but I actually really liked it overall.
In terms of functionality, the large desk was great for both working and, as we’ll discuss, dining. I also loved that there was a mini-fridge in the room. While I couldn’t find a way to adjust the temperature of this fridge and it didn’t get remarkably cold, it still got the job done.
If there was anything I’d change about the room, I do always appreciate a standing shower instead of a tub-shower combo. Of course, in a standard room, that’s not very likely. Oh, and I would like a coffee maker in the room, but this didn’t end up being an issue since complimentary coffee was available in the attached restaurant.
Typically, when booking a hotel, I’m careful to check out all of the details and ensure I’m not in for any expensive surprises. Well, apparently I was so taken with The Highland while browsing that I skipped a few steps in my process. As a result, when I went to complete my due diligence a couple of days later, I was disappointed to see that not only was parking at the hotel $31 a night but was also valet only.
Of note, while it is valet, The Highland site says guests do have in and out privileges — which isn’t always the case. Nevertheless, the valet situation made us think twice about driving anywhere after arrival and, in the end, we decided to stay put. As for the $31 per night fee, it definitely could have been worse. Still, if there’s any hesitation I have about recommending this property, it’s the parking situation.
If I was at all worried about our decision to leave the car parked and hoof it to wherever we wanted to go, my fears were quelled when I looked out or window and saw a pedestrian bridge off to the side. As it turns out, this bridge led to a shopping center across the way and was actually a part of a much larger trail. Ultimately, we didn’t travel too much of that trail but did make use of the bridge as we went to explore the shopping and dining district.
Mockingbird Station doesn’t have a ton of stores, but there was a Bath & Body Works, Urban Outfitters, Gap, and a few others. Things are much brighter on the food front, however, as there was a variety of cuisines to choose from. In our case, I loved the delicious brisket grilled cheese I got from the Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. while Pure Milk & Honey proved to be a unique and tasty treat. I feel compelled to mention that there is also a Starbucks for all of your Starbucks needs.
Elsewhere, if you want to catch a movie (at some point), the Angelika Film Center also calls Mockingbird Station home. Additionally, there’s a train station next to the trail, although I didn’t inquire where the rails led. Finally, looking outside of Mockingbird Station, there is a CVS a short walk away from The Highland as well as a handful of other retailers. For all of those reasons, I’d say this property gets a pretty high walkability score, making it easy for us to keep it local during our stay.
Admittedly, one of the main reasons I decided to stay at The Highland was because it had a restaurant attached — a convenience I’ve found increasingly compelling in the pandemic. What’s more, I checked the menu ahead of time and it seemed to my liking. Thankfully, Knife did not disappoint.
If you’re a fan of steak, this place is for you. That said, since we elected to take our food to-go during both of our visits, it didn’t seem like we’d be doing such a dish justice. Instead, I landed on the Ozersky burger. Meant to honor the food writer Joshua Ozersky, this delightfully simple burger — consisting of just a beef patty, two slices of American cheese, and red onion (with pickles, ketchup, and mustard on the side) — was right up my alley as a picky eater. Sure enough, I adored this delicious burger. In fact, I’m not ashamed to say I ordered it again the very next night! That should really tell you everything you need to know.
As for other items we tried at Knife, we also got the Bacon Tasting on our first night (which was delicious because, well, it’s bacon). Meanwhile, my wife had the Bolognese and the Yellowtail. We were both looking forward to trying the Oxtail Ravioli as well but, sadly, they were sold out on both nights. She’d also like me to tell you that both The Highland and the Knife Old Fashioned cocktails were delicious, although she ultimately preferred the latter.
Should I find myself in Dallas in post-COVID times, I definitely intend on returning to Knife and doing it right. Nevertheless, even in a take-out setting, we really enjoyed everything we ate. Having such a gem of a restaurant mere steps from your room is a key perk to staying at The Highland for sure.
Final Thoughts on The Highland Dallas
Considering that I’ve never been to Dallas and didn’t really know where I wanted to stay, I don’t think I could have done much better than The Highland for this particular trip. Its boutique size and unique decor made for an enjoyable vibe while the proximity to Mockingbird Station and even closer proximity to Knife mean you won’t need to venture too far from the property during your stay. On the other hand, for some, the $31 a night, valet-only parking situation may be a bit of a turn-off. Also, having no real sense of Dallas’s geography or key attractions, it’s hard to say whether the hotel’s location would make sense for most travelers. Still, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Highland Dallas and would surely consider returning should we find ourselves in the Lonestar State once again.
Also published on Medium.