The exterior of a concrete block hotel with an ocatillo in the front and a wide blue sky
Willow House Photo by Matthew Johnson
The inside of a hotel lobby with large windows and cowboy hats on a piece of driftwood
The “pit” in the communal main house. Photo by Matthew Johnson

Willow House

Terlingua

The Willow House was made for sky-watching. Owner Lauren Werner planned it that way. “The intent was to position every window and every patio as a perfect frame of either the Chisos Mountains or Santa Elena Canyon without any sort of obstruction in between,” she says. “I want to create spaces that really make you appreciate the landscape.”

A former SMU pre-law student, Werner lived on the Terlingua property for much of its construction process. She got to know her surroundings while sleeping on the floor in whichever space was the most habitable. Her respect for the land comes through in the design, from decorating the 12 casitas in colors and textures that exist naturally on the land to the placement of the sunken living room in the main house, which allows guests to take in the revolving dance of light and shadow over the West Texas desert.

Her success has left design magazines gushing since Willow House opened in 2019. Architectural Digest called it the “ultimate escape.” Indeed, its ability to immerse you both in the rugged land of Big Bend country—the hotel is only 5 miles from the national park—and in the cosmos is transportive. Guests linger around the hotel’s many communal spaces, including the fire pits, two kitchens, and the outdoor dining tables, co-mingling in the picturesque setting. As night falls, the suspended outdoor bed placed far enough away from the casitas offers desert solitude and an ideal spot to lie back and wait for a shooting star.

Rooms start at $275/night.
23112 FM 170, Terlingua. 432-213-2270;
willowhouse.co

An International Dark-Sky Association-certified park protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage, and public enjoyment, Big Bend is known for its exceptionally starry nights.

Also Check Out

El Cosmico

Marfa

An illustration of a small white yurt

For the bohemian vibes Marfa is known for, head to this eclectic collection of vintage trailers, tepees, yurts, safari-style tents, and a “Cosmic Kasita” owned by Texas hotel icon Liz Lambert. Coming in 2024: Lambert is working with construction technology firm ICON to build the world’s first 3D-printed hotel on-site. —Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $79.
802 S. Highland Ave.
432-729-1950; elcosmico.com

illustration By Lauren Tamaki

Antelope Lodge

Alpine

This circa 1949 motor court offers bright, cheerful, pet-friendly cottages complete with vintage 1950s bathroom tile and sign- age. Each cottage includes its own stone porch. With a courtyard and communal or private kitchen facilities, it’s an ideal home base for exploring Big Bend, Fort Davis, and other West Texas treasures. —Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $101.
2310 US 90, Alpine.
432-837-2451;
antelopelodge.com

Summit at Big Bend

Terlingua

An unusual glamping adventure 17 miles from the entrance to Big Bend National Park features a luxury cave with rooms carved right into the Tres Cuevas Mountain and a temperature-controlled dome tent perfect for stargazing.—Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms include a mini-fridge and coffee maker and start at $199.
2500 N. Lone Star Mine, Terlingua.
432-777-7866; summitbigbend.com

An ornately decorated table with wooden rafters in a historic building
Holland Hotel’s lobby. Photo by Matthew Johnson
The exterior of a white building on a historic street
Holland Hotel. Photo by Matthew Johnson

Holland Hotel

Alpine

With a flag-strewn balcony emblazoned with the hotel’s name in bold letters, the Holland Hotel reigns over Alpine’s main thoroughfare. Opened in 1912, it was expanded and revamped in 1928 by Henry Trost. A master of many architectural styles, Trost built the Holland in Spanish Revival; his signature dark wooden beams with gold etchings stretch across its cavernous red-tiled lobby. “The entrance and lobby Trost designed give that unexpected grand sense of arrival,” says Charles Mallory, the hotel’s owner who reopened its shuttered doors in 2012.

The space was once occupied with ranchers and oilmen who’d come to town for a little society, and many still do. Outside in the lobby’s hacienda-style courtyard, trees and a fountain make a cool oasis in the summer heat. Popular with locals, the hotel’s Century Bar and Grill serves hearty American fare, so you can linger with a rib-eye and a tumbler of whiskey. The pool table in the lobby invites you to hang out even longer.

For all its authentic Texas style and history, you’d think the Holland Hotel might cost more than, say, the Hampton Inn. But no, a stay at the Holland gives you big character for less than the price of a budget chain. The Holland’s rooms, with their burgundy velvet curtains and comfy beds, are neat and cozy, even if a few elements show their age. (A renovation is on the horizon.) Guests pay an economical price to reside within the storied stucco walls of a still venerable Texas icon.

Rooms start at $99/night
209 W. Holland Ave., Alpine.
432-837-2800;
thehollandhoteltexas.com

Budget travelers have plenty of options that don’t compromise on style, customer service, or amenities.

Stanton House

El Paso

An illustration of a frilly yellow lamp hanging from the ceiling
Located in the renovated 1912 Rogers Furniture building downtown, Stanton House embraces its identity on the border of two cultures. Visitors can take in the evocative contemporary artwork throughout the lobby, including a four-story light installation that floats up and down overhead like soft flowers. —Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $179.
209 N. Stanton St., El Paso.
915-271-3600; stantonhouse.com

Illustration By Lauren Tamaki

Old Central Firehouse Bed and Brew

San Angelo

An illustration of a fire helmet with 'San Angelo Fire - 33' written on it
This 1929 firehouse has been transformed into an adults-only boutique hotel, situated above a pizzeria and taproom in downtown San Angelo. Exposed brick walls, a light complimentary breakfast, and an evening happy hour round out your stay in one of the firehouse-themed rooms, such as the Chief’s Retreat or the Hook and Ladder. —Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $165. 200 S. Magdalen St., San Angelo.
325-703-2029; ocfbedandbrew.com

Illustration By Lauren Tamaki

The Gage Hotel

Marathon

This is a stripped-down example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style architect Henry Trost brought to West Texas in the early 1900s. A romantic courtyard, exposed wood ceiling beams, and Saltillo tile floors combine with West Texas and Mexican influences to add up to a singular experience.—Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $229. 102 NW First St., Marathon.
432-386-4205; gagehotel.com

The March 2024 cover of Texas Highways Magazine

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