Where to Stay in 2024
Lulu is a flirt in the best kind of way. She makes you feel special, pampered, like it’s time to kick up your heels, forget city life, and linger with a book of poems on the porch. Even in your hotel confirmation email she calls you “darling,” as in: “Friendly reminder that we don’t have a fitness center—that’s the point, darling!”
“As soon as you walk onto the property at Hotel Lulu, you feel the presence of the character we created, Lulu,” hotel marketing director Matt Johns says. “She is the personification of the Italian art of ‘il dolce far niente,’ or the sweetness of doing nothing, and the property was designed to encourage that.”
Each guest room is an artful merging of Round Top farmhouse—original floor-to-ceiling wide-plank timber and antiques—and swanky comforts like canopy beds, lavish drapes, and Le Labo bath products. By the hotel herb garden, the pool beckons. Surrounded by oaks and wisteria, it’s the only pool downtown, making a cool plunge even more delicious.
The flirtation continues at the hotel bar and restaurant, epicenters of Round Top social life, even when the hotel isn’t bursting with guests during the twice-yearly antiques fair. Lulu’s, an Italian eatery in an early 1800s stone farmhouse, seduces with dishes like cacio e pepe and tender braised short ribs over polenta. The hotel bar, IL CUcuLo, features whimsical pink painted birds and bougainvillea adorning the walls. It’s the kind of place you want to linger, slow down, and make a new friend. As Lulu would say, “That’s the point, darling.”
Rooms start at $250/night.
204 E. Mill St., Round Top.
Playful components at these one-of-a-kind hotels include firehouse-themed rooms, an alpine rollercoaster, and a secret library bar.
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Play is the name of the game at Camp Fimfo, regardless of your age. The New Braunfels location has Texas’ first alpine coaster, plus a giant jump pillow, rental golf carts, daily crafts, a waterpark, a swim-up bar, and lots of other amenities aimed at spreading family-style joy. —Cynthia J. Drake
Cabins start at $125; tent and RV sites are also available.
520 Whitewater Way, New Braunfels.
Contigo, a 300-acre working family ranch about 6 miles from Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, sets the stage for Mother Nature to do her thing. Owners Claudia and Frede Edgerton have assured that the lodging—nine white contemporary cottages, three historic hand-hewn Kentucky log cabins, the original 19th-century German ranch house, and a stone building evocative of a Spanish mission—blends in with the oak- and cactus-covered landscape. The Bluff, the ranch’s hilltop perch and one of the highest points in the area, is a primo picnic spot that lets you soak in the staggering vistas of the surrounding ridges and canyons.
“This is not just a piece of property,” Frede says. “It’s a working ranch where we live, and you can feel it when you walk around. For my family and friends, the land brings us together, and we want other people to have that feeling.”
The interior design of the dwellings feels like an extension of the land. Earthy Equipale chairs, oversized white couches, and big wooden tables fit for meals with friends bring in the natural colors and materials of the outdoors. And thoughtful comforts like soaking tubs big enough for two and pecan oil bath products add just the right touch of luxury.
Rooms start at $220/night
13454 Lower Crabapple Road, Fredericksburg.
Deer, rabbits, and horses are among the animals you might see at these stays featuring abundant wildlife.
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JL Bar Ranch Resort & Spa
Located on the border of the Hill Country and West Texas, this luxury lodge resort offers a full slate of activities, including shooting and archery, guided hunting trips, horseback riding, and even horse psychology classes. Guests can enjoy an on-site restaurant and spa and a private airport for easy traveling. —Cynthia J. Drake
Rooms start at $449.
3500 Private Road 2254, Sonora.
Illustration By Lauren Tamaki