The gray stone exterior of a hotel dimly lit under purple sunset
Dixie Motel Photo by Robert Gomez
A bright yellow chair is the focal point of a room with bright natural light and a record player
A guest room at the Dixie Motel Photo by Robert Gomez

Dixie Motel

Brenham

Given their retro charms, it’s not surprising that motor courts are enjoying fancy redesigns by hip hotel chains—with fancy prices to boot. That’s what makes the Dixie Motel in Brenham a star among motor courts. It is not part of a chain, but a stand-alone original born from the creativity and roll-up-your-sleeves hard work of Brenham couple Sarah and Karl Stopschinski. Self-described “motel people,” the Stopschinskis, who married at the Marathon Motel in West Texas, bought the Dixie after it had long lost the luster of its 1950s origins. They pulled out the motel’s shag carpet and pink asbestos siding and updated the décor of eight streamlined rooms that sit around a courtyard of Zen-raked gravel and twinkling lights.

“Guests love the West Texas-like simplicity,” says Sarah, an antiques vendor in nearby Round Top and former DJ. She curated a vintage vinyl collection to accompany the Victrolas in each room and chose desert-hued paint colors to show off mesmerizing desert landscapes from Marathon-based photographer James Evans. Karl, an engineer, tackled the plumbing, electrical, and furniture-making; using salvaged wood from the property, he crafted sleek pine tables and beds for each room.

Because the Stopschinskis do it all, one of them is usually around to make sure you have anything you might need. There are local IPAs in the retro icebox in the breakfast room, and every guest is given a water bottle to use with the purified water filler in the breezeway. A thoughtful breakfast spread featuring fresh-cut Texas fruit, granola, and iced coffee make waking up at the Dixie particularly sweet.

Rooms start at $140/night.
205 S. Drumm St., Brenham.
979-400-8874;
dixiemotelbrenham.com

As the state where the motel chain was born—the Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts in Waco opened in 1929—Texas abounds in motels, aka motor courts, where motorists pull right up to their rooms.

Also Check Out

La Colombe d’Or

Houston

An illustration of a person relaxing in a claw-foot bathtub

This 1923 mansion in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood was reimagined in 2021 as a complement to neighboring art museums like the Menil Collection. Now, 425 original sculptures and paintings line the walls and 32 suites—each named for European masters—in the original building and adjacent high-rise. A monthly docent-led art salon gives an insider’s glimpse into the collection. —Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $450.
3410 Montrose Blvd., Houston.
713-524-7999 lacolombedor.com

Illustration By Lauren Tamaki

A wood-fired oven is visible in the mirror of a well-decorated mantle
Rosalie Italian Soul restaurant at the C. Baldwin Photo by Robert Gomez
Large globe pendant lights hang from the ceiling of a hotel lobby with large green plants
C. Baldwin Photo by Robert Gomez
A bright, green, plant-covered exterior of a hotel reading "C. Baldwin" beneath numerous skyscrapers bathed in sunset light
Photo by Robert Gomez

C. Baldwin

Houston

The C. Baldwin, a sleek downtown high-rise with sweeping views of Houston, pays homage to the life and work of Charlotte Baldwin Allen, wife to Augustus Allen, one of the two brothers who founded the city in 1837. While the Allen brothers get the credit, historians say it was Baldwin who in part funded the purchase of the new settlement’s land and suggested it be named after her next-door neighbor, Sam Houston.

Baldwin was a rare specimen in 1800s Houston: a female business leader, a land developer, and a philanthropist who separated from Augustus in 1850. Long after the Allen Brothers were gone—John Kirby died in 1838 and Augustus moved away after the separation—Baldwin dedicated herself to civic life until her death in 1895 at the age of 90. In 1890, the now defunct Houston Daily Post described her as the “connecting link between Houston’s past and present history.”

The hotel continues that legacy by honoring Baldwin in art and words. Near the front desk, a portrait of “The Mother of Houston” gazes across the wood- and white-walled lobby, where gold accents and a sprawling chandelier of floating orbs give a lush art deco flourish. Graceful design touches throughout the hotel, like velvet couches and flowery art, nod to a feminine sensibility.

The hotel is dedicated to recognizing all the women intertwined in the history of Houston. Meeting spaces are named for trailblazers like politician Barbara Jordan and writer Adina Emilia De Zavala. “The ethos behind the hotel is about women making their mark,” marketing manager Ashley Coley says. In that spirit, the words “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History” are stenciled like a manifesto on one expansive lobby wall.

Rooms start at $250/night.
400 Dallas St., Houston.
713-759-0202;
cbaldwinhotel.com

Texas history is rich with personalities, including some hotels that have become characters of their own.

The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa

Houston

This stately hotel is the former residence of President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush. It recently opened The Covery Wellness Spa offering a full slate of therapies, such as an infrared salt sauna and cryotherapy. It’s also home to Trellis Spa and The Houstonian Club fitness facility with classes and fitness programs for hotel guests. —Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $459.
111 N. Post Oak Lane, Houston.
713-680-2626;
houstonian.com

Hotel Lucine

Galveston

A 1960s seaside motor court called Treasure Isle Motel now has a new life as Hotel Lucine. Opened in fall 2023 by a trio of Galveston locals who wanted to preserve an important piece of the island’s history, the hotel includes The Fancy, a restaurant overseen by Chef Leila Ortiz, who previously worked at New York City’s Momofuku Noodle Bar.—Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $175.
1002 Seawall Blvd., Galveston.
409-867-5500; hotellucine.com

Lively Beach

Corpus Christi

These condos are located just steps from some of our state’s best beaches—and there’s a pool if you need a break from salt water. There are also regularly scheduled rooftop wine nights and other festivities. Most rooms include full kitchens and many have private decks.—Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $128.
138 Zahn Road, Corpus Christi. 844-808-0297;
livelybeach.com

The exterior of a gray seaside building with a large staircase
LCRA Bungalows Matagorda Bay Nature Park Photo by Al Argueta
A white comforter on a wooden bedframe underneath wood paneling
A guest room in the LCRA Bungalows Photo by Al Argueta

LCRA Bungalows

Matagorda

Last July, Lower Colorado River Authority Parks opened 10 new beach bungalows that overlook the spot where the 862-mile Colorado River finally flows into the Gulf. In this dramatic setting of river-meets-the-sea, the two-bedroom bungalows offer well-designed modern comfort amid the wilds of the Texas coast. Their ample decks make prime spots to watch the unfolding estuary action, like anglers catching redfish and flounder and pelicans gliding in unison over the Colorado. It’s also the perfect place to catch a sunset that will transfix you until the sun ducks behind the dunes and leaves the sky in scarlet ribbons.

The bungalows’ interiors are airy with white wood-lined walls, high ceilings, and a soothing sand and pale blue color palette. Pretty wool rugs soften the concrete floors, perfectly fluffed throw pillows brighten beige couches, and sturdy white blinds provide shade from the Texas sun. In the bathroom, neat stacks of beach towels invite you to head out to the ocean less than a 10-minute walk away. The well-supplied kitchen—with a Cuisinart coffee maker, a full set of knives, and a stove and microwave—makes family dinners easy.

“Whenever I walk into any of the bungalows, I have such a warm feeling of how cozy they are,” says Margo Richards, LCRA’s senior vice president of community resources. “And then you walk outside and have those awesome views. To see the confluence of where the river and the Gulf meet—it is a powerful moment.”

Rooms start at $275/night.
6430 FM 2031, Matagorda.
855-392-7638; lcra.org

Whether you’re craving a romantic or adventure-filled getaway, these hotels offer relaxation by the lake, river, or ocean.

The Tremont House

Galveston

As the site of the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, the Great Storm of 1900 that left as many as 12,000 dead, Galveston has its share of reputed haunts. The Tremont House, which dates to 1839, is known for ghost stories of The Gambler and The Prankster. Don’t be afraid to ask hotel staff to share the tales. —Cynthia J. Drake

Rooms start at $141.
2300 Ship Mechanic Row St., Galveston.
409-763-0300; thetremonthouse.com

The March 2024 cover of Texas Highways Magazine

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