Hotel 1928 may be Chip and Joanna Gaines’ biggest restoration project yet
It’s 9 a.m. on a sunny November morning, and a group of people can be seen entering a low-slung brick building in downtown Waco, Texas. Last week, the building saw a wave of camera crews, staff, guest journalists, and even locals driving by late at night to catch a glimpse. Finally, the doors of Hotel 1928 are officially open to the public.
The luxurious and elegant boutique hotel — located just down the street from the city’s popular Magnolia Selous district — is an HGTV hit Fixer upper The series stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ first foray into hospitality. The innovators may have turned in perhaps the business giants’ most ambitious overhaul yet. The three-year project, which the couple began in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of real estate firm AJ Capital Partners, opened on November 3. It spans three floors containing three restaurants and bars, a library, an outdoor rooftop lounge space, and a ballroom that can accommodate 500 guests (hopeful brides appear to be vying to reserve the space before the flooring is installed). In addition to the hotel’s 33 rooms (which start at $375 per night, and which are also in high demand and booked through spring 2024), there’s a 12-bed bridal suite, complete with two pedicure stations.
While the accommodations are Joanna’s—comfy furnishings, antique books used as props, and playful combinations of patterns and textures—it’s a brave departure from her signature neutral color palette and happy-go-lucky aesthetic. The lobby features checkered black walls, checkered floors, and gold accents that give it an elegant 1920s flair. Further up, a symmetrical staircase curves into a black-paneled library, complete with wingback chairs, tufted leather sofas, and a double-height wall of antique books. Louis Armstrong plays a lick in the background, and guests are asked to sit with a drink in their hands.
What’s more, at the on-site restaurant Bertie’s on the Rooftop, dusty pinks and greens – accentuated by maximum botanical wallpaper – provide a lively, fresh touch. Their inspiration? “We had this character in mind: our crazy aunt,” Joanna explains. “Like, what would it be like if she had a restaurant?” The private rooms on the second and third floors lean more into Joanna’s business style, featuring a more neutral, muted color palette with magnolia pillows and knit blankets.
The hotel’s charm is due, in large part, to its place in the history of this thriving small town. It was built in 1928 (hence the name) by a local chapter of the Shriners Club, a social club known for its community outreach and philanthropy. They enlisted a fleet of Dallas architects—Herbert M. Green, Edwin LaRouche, George Dahl, and Wacoan Roy Ellsworth Lane—to design a modern space that would serve as a gathering place for Waco residents for 75 years. But with the passage of time (and natural disaster — the 1953 hurricane that destroyed much of the downtown area), this historic property fell into oblivion — that is, before the Gaines acquired it.
Early in the design process, Joanna and her team went to the stacks to learn about Waco’s architectural and interior designs during the 1920s. She chose to retain as many of the building’s original architectural features as possible. The foyer features stunning terrazzo floors. Above it, a Middle Eastern coral ceiling mural nods to the building’s Moorish architecture. In one of the rooms, a huge metal door opens into an old safe that was located behind the teller window. Next, Joanna brought in custom fixtures and furniture and mixed them with vintage pieces she had sought out in years past and kept in storage while she waited for the perfect nook.
The hotel is the latest addition to the couple’s growing Magnolia empire, which, since starting out as reality TV stars two decades ago, has expanded into a television, retail and e-commerce giant with dozens of businesses, including a bakery, a furniture line and a home and lifestyle store. The renovation will be documented in the new series Fixer upper: hotel, Which premiered on November 8.
Assistant digital editor
Rachel Silva, associate digital editor at ELLE DECOR, covers design, architecture, trends, and anything high-fashion. She has previously written for Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and CityWire.
(tags for translation) Hotel prices 1928