A very ornate and busily decorated lobby of a hotel
The Historic Jefferson Hotel Photo by Dave Shafer
A collection of dolls mounted on a pink-painted wall
The Dolls-N-Stuff room Photo by Dave Shafer

The Historic Jefferson Hotel

Jefferson

When you spend the night at The Jefferson, a French Quarter-style hotel with a balcony overlooking the town’s red brick streets, you may come across a few unpaid guests. Like the Mill children, who died there as 7-year-olds in the late 1800s, most likely when the building was used as a warehouse for Jefferson’s booming cotton industry. Or the Vanishing Man, a fellow in a coat and high boots who is the hotel’s most common apparition; he is known to spend the night just standing in your room. And then there’s the jilted bride who hanged herself in Room 19.

All of these extra guests are welcome here, a highlight of the East Texas town’s popular ghost tours. The hotel even has its own YouTube channel chronicling paranormal activity. The more, the merrier. In fact, “more” is the underlying ethos here, especially in the hotel’s rococo décor. Oddities and antiquities fill the lobby, dangle from the ceiling, and line the halls; highlights include authentic African nkisi statues, a Tibetan human skull once used as a cup, and a 300-year-old confessional booth with an 1890s vampire-killing kit tucked inside.

Each themed room is its own deliciously macabre museum: There’s a nautical room, a mirror room, a carnival relic room. In the room called Dolls-N-Stuff, you’ll share quarters with 150 antique dolls. “Some of them hang from the chandelier and ceiling looking at you all night,” says Jeromy Jones, who bought the hotel with his wife, Pam, in 2020. “It’s set up intentionally to creep you out.” Jones, an engineer who also designs ghost-hunting kits, says he has grown accustomed to hearing ghosts thumping, giggling, and running down the halls of the hotel. “I’ve always had a passion for the paranormal,” he says.

Rooms start at $159/night.
124 W. Austin St., Jefferson.
901-468-3551;
historicjefferson.com

If being scared out of your wits is your thing, check in to a haunted hotel for history and
frightful nights.

Also Check Out

Cavalry Court

College Station

An illustration of a G.I. Joe action figure

Valencia Hotel Group’s contemporary court-style hotels offer eccentric takes on a local theme, and in Aggieland, that means celebrating Texas A&M’s military history with a retro playfulness. G.I. Joe figures are incorporated into the lobby design, and signage in the Canteen Bar & Grill encourages patrons to “Bite the bullet.” —Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $113.
200 Century Court, College Station.
844-313-7337; cavalrycourt.com

illustration By Lauren Tamaki

A woman performs a meditation exercise in a wood-paneled room with three windows
Hotel Ritual’s wellness studio. Photo by Dave Shafer
A keyring with a pink plastic tag reading "Raise Your Vibe"
Hotel Ritual’s room keys. Photo by Dave Shafer

Hotel Ritual

Jacksonville

At Hotel Ritual, the words “Raise Your Vibe” are etched in gold on the pink room-key keychains. This is but one of the many playful details at this feel-good retreat tucked away in a small East Texas town. Guest rooms are dripping in pleasant touches: pink zinnias plucked from the owner’s garden, palo santo incense sticks, organic beauty products, and sheets so soft you’ll want to linger in bed. Downstairs, a hot tub bubbles by the pool, and the sauna gets so steamy you’ll be grateful for the mineral water on hand to further whisk away impurities. Warmed sesame oil is also provided for massage. Immersed in so much care and beauty, your vibe can’t help but boost.

The hotel offers wellness, meditation, and yoga classes in a brick-walled studio with soaring ceilings and windows overlooking historic downtown Jacksonville. To raise your vibe even higher, indulge in spa treatments on par with the best you’ll find in big cities, including deep-cleansing organic facials, chakra showers, and relaxing massages by Jacksonville-raised therapist Bishop Silmon.

“I see this as a spiritual car wash,” Ritual’s owner Whitney Graham says. She also owns a popular nearby restaurant, Ritual Luncheonette, that serves nutritious meals and a killer strawberry cake. Last September, she opened a healthy smoothie and ice cream bar called Ritual Laboratorium and Soda Fountain of Youth. “A stay at Ritual is an adventure and a way to reset that doesn’t feel like a fancy spa, but rather a highly curated experience all about you,” she says. “It is my greatest pleasure to help people remember and awaken their innate and ancient ability to self-heal.”

Rooms start at
$398/night
540 El Paso St., Jacksonville.
903-339-1155;
hotelritualtexas.com

The next time your batteries are running low, consider heading to one of these relaxing sanctuaries for a recharge.

High Hill Farm

Arp

Relax under the East Texas Piney Woods and get away from it all at this understated retreat, which offers a variety of lodging options, including casitas and luxury barn accommodations. Côte Restaurant, featuring fresh, seasonal fare, and an on-site spa ensure you’ll have a delicious and relaxing trip. —Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $225.
12626 County Road 217, Arp.
903-834-3444; highhillfarm.com

From the January 2024 issue
The March 2024 cover of Texas Highways Magazine

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