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A woman’s foot steps on a white tile floor. In letters made of black tile are the words “good luck.” To the left of the sign and her feet is a door covered in tufted red velvet.
Step into a good luck only zone in Babou’s.
Babou’s

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Peek Inside Babou’s, the Intimate Nightclub in the Hotel Swexan

Enter through the Library at Babou’s, which features art from the Samurai Collection

Courtney E. Smith is the editor of Eater Dallas. She's a journalist of 20 years who was born and raised in Texas, with bylines in Pitchfork, Wired, Esquire, Yahoo!, Salon, Refinery29, and more. When she's not writing about food, she co-hosts the podcast Songs My Ex Ruined.

Stillwell’s, the steakhouse at the Hotel Swexan, and its European patio-inspired lobby-level restaurant, Isabelle’s, are quite the “wow” experiences. Its two other restaurants, Pomelo and Leonie, are accessible to hotel guests only. But now, another pair of options to enjoy this space is opening on August 10.

Babou’s is a tiny nightclub inspired by the underground spaces in London (and named for Salvador Dali’s ocelot) that will be open exclusively on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. And next door, as well as the entry portal to the space, is the Library at Babou’s, a quieter room for intimate cocktails and conversation.

The two spaces do not share a vibe, but they will share a cocktail menu, and the unifying theme is whimsy. Unexpected ingredients and bemusing names jump out, starting with the “Coconuts? PHUKET!,” a Collins-style drink with strawberry vodka, Amaro, Yuzu, spiced coconut, and boba. There’s the “Mr. Salvador Dali,” a tiki drink made with a blend of rums, acidified pineapple, strawberries and bananas, and tiki bitters. Another remarkable one is “The Devil Was a Ginger,” a tequila cocktail with “very berry oleo,” ginger beer, and lime. Classic cocktails will also be available by request.

Babou is an interesting combination of hedonism in its wild design (literally wild — that is a leopard print carpet) —and drinks and restraint in its leather and velvet seating and cozy feel and reservations encouraged policy. It will have bottle service, with giant containers of Don Julio, Hendrick’s gin, Grey Goose, Lady Gaga’s collaborative rosé champagne with Dom Perignon, and select bottles from the wine program at Stillwell’s will be available — along with many more options. It will serve small bites lifted from the hotel’s other menus until 11 p.m. But this isn’t the kind of nightclub one simply shows up at, at least not if they want a good seat. Much of the room will be reserved, and that’s by design. The hotel’s food and beverage director, Justin Vaiciunas, tells Eater Dallas that the idea is to offer an experience that lasts the entire evening to hotel guests and visitors. “Someone could start the evening at Isabelle’s for a cocktail, eat dinner at Stillwell’s, and then go clubbing in Babou,” he says. Or, if the idea of clubbing doesn’t scream good times, grab an after-dinner drink in the Library at Babou’s.

The Library is an equally snug space, separated by a giant doorway from Babou’s. The music is shared but adjusted so Library libation sippers can converse quietly. And it features an amenity that no other place in Dallas has: pieces from the Samurai Collection. The museum, located next door, was created in 2012 by Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, the family behind Harwood International, who owns Hotel Swexan.

A small room styled as a library is painted dark blue. Books are on the shelves, samurai art hands on the walls, and a spiral staircase dominates the right side of the photo with leather couches in the foreground. Other chairs and tables are visible further back. Hotel Swexan
In a library, a book on art history is open on a stand, with one page of writing exposed and another shows a reproduction of a painting. It sits on a chess board. Next to it is a metal object. Hotel Swexan
A seating area shows two burnt orange wingback chairs, a black leather couch with pillows, and on black walls various pieces of samurai art are hung. Hotel Swexan

A closer look at some of the art in the Library at Babou’s.

Babou’s and the Library at Babou’s will open on Thursday, August 10. Both are inside the Hotel Swexan at 2575 McKinnon St.

Correction: August 8, 2023: 8:27 a.m.: This article has been updated to reflect that the Samurai Collection opened in 2012, not 2020.

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