6 Incredible Historic Hotels in Texas Big Bend Country

A prominent West Texas architect, a Great Depression-era laborer, and local cattle ranchers — they’ve all left their mark on the string of cool little hotels that dot the landscape of the Texas area. southwest Texas known as Big Bend Country.

In this remote corner of Texas near spectacular Big Bend National Park, explorers will discover treasures like a white-walled lodge created by the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps; the shaded courtyards and graceful arcades of hotels designed by the early 20and-century architect Henry Trost; and lodgings that were originally a retreat for the “summer swallows” that flocked to the Davis Mountains for its cool summer weather.

Regardless of history, however, the modern reality is that remarkable vacations await those who travel to the scenic ranches and big blue skies of West Texas.

One of the beauties of the area’s historic hotels is that many are located within hours of each other, making for convenient travel. On my two recent trips to West Texas, I found it hard to resist the combination of fascinating Texas ranching stories and luxurious hotel touches.

Here are six amazing historic hotels in Texas’ Big Bend Country.

The El Capitan Hotel was built in 1930. (Photo credit: Cindy Barks)

1. El Capitan Hotel, Van Horn

The most accessible of the quartet of Trost hotels operating in Big Bend country, the El Capitan Hotel is located a block or two off Interstate 10 in Van Horn, along the road between El Paso and the major Texas cities to the east, including Austin and San Antonio.

El Capitan was built in 1930, a design by Henry Trost, the El Paso architect behind more than 550 buildings from Texas to California in the early 1900s. Occupying pride of place on Van Horn’s Main Street, El Capitan is known as a stopping point for people traveling between Texas’ two national parks, Guadalupe Mountains National Park to the north and Big Bend National Park to the south.

The first thing I loved about El Capitan was the shaded courtyard that faces the hotel entrance. When I arrived after a long day’s drive, I was greeted by the gentle sound of running water from the fountain that sits in the center of the small courtyard.

El Capitan’s lobby is also distinctive, with its European-style tiles and wood-beamed ceiling. The hotel has 49 rooms, and 12 of them have French doors that open onto small balconies that overlook the courtyard.

The adjoining El Capitan Restaurant and Gopher Hole Bar is a popular establishment in Van Horn, so it is advisable to request a dinner or lunch time when checking in. House favorites include Texas classics like pistachio fried steak, rib eye cut and homemade pecan pie.

Pro tip: Van Horn is a railroad town and El Capitan is located just across the railroad. Guests should expect train noise throughout the evening and night. Although the passing trains did not interrupt my sleep, I was told that light sleepers were sometimes awakened by the noise.

The lobby of the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas
The lobby of The Gage hotel in Marathon (Photo credit: Cindy Barks)

2. The Gage Hotel, Marathon

As the closest hotel to Big Bend National Park, Marathon’s Gage Hotel has long offered a bit of luxury to guests heading to the rugged National Park trails. The hotel dates back 95 years, and is known as a place of laid-back luxury and gracious hospitality, as well as the home of one of Texas’ most iconic bars.

In the 1920s, West Texas pioneer Alfred S. Gage decided the small town of Marathon needed a hotel to serve as a base for overseeing his ranching operation, the website says. of the hotel. He commissioned Henry Trost to design it, and The Gage Hotel was born in 1927 – “an excellent example of Spanish-style mission and design”.

Even if you’re not staying at the Gage, I recommend taking a stroll through the grounds to take in the beautiful aura of Lone Star chic and have lunch or dinner at one of the excellent dining establishments. The hotel is part of a business complex that includes the 12-Gauge Restaurant, V6 Coffee Bar, Brick Vault Restaurant & Brewery, and White Buffalo Bar.

Named one of the best hotel bars in Texas by Texas Monthly Magazinethe White Buffalo offers a wide assortment of freshly squeezed tequilas and margaritas, as well as bites of sea bass like fried chicken steak with cracked pepper cream sauce or cornmeal fried oysters with aioli with garlic and habanero salsa.

The exterior of the Holland Hotel in Alpine, Texas
The Holland Hotel at Alpine (Photo credit: Cindy Barks)

3. The Holland Hotel, Alpine

The original Holland Hotel was built by prominent alpine rancher JR Holland in 1912, and within a decade and a half an even larger version was built by Holland’s son Clay, who commissioned the architectural firm Trost to do the design.

Over the past 94 years, the Holland Hotel has undergone a number of transformations and changes in ownership. It was converted into an office building in the 1970s, before being converted back into a hotel in the mid-1980s. In 2012 it was acquired by Greenwich Hospitality, which is continuing the restoration process.

Interior of the Holland Hotel in Alpine, Texas
Holland Hotel lobby (Photo credit: Cindy Barks)

Today, the hotel serves as the “ranch and rail” centerpiece of bustling downtown Alpine, directly across from the Amtrak station where passengers have boarded the iconic Sunset Limited rail line since 1928.

The Holland has 27 deluxe rooms and suites decorated in a Southwestern-inspired motif. It also features a beautifully restored main lobby and courtyard, as well as the Century Bar & Grill, which serves contemporary cuisine steeped in history.

The Paisano Hotel in Marfa, Texas
The Paisano Hotel in Marfa (Photo credit: Cindy Barks)

4. Hotel Paisano, Marfa

Although the grand opening of the Hotel Paisano in Marfa, Texas took place in October 1929 just days before the stock market crash that sparked the Great Depression, this unfortunate moment in no way detracted from the charisma of the hotel. hotel.

Construction continued, and the Paisano opened in June 1930, becoming known as “the most elegant hotel between El Paso and San Antonio.” Located in the heart of the farming and artist town of Marfa, Hotel Paisano has long served as the social hub for the region.

Paisano’s star power was greatly amplified in 1955, when Warner Brothers came to Marfa to film the star-studded film Giant and chose the Paisano as its headquarters. The film starred Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean and included 150 other cast and crew members, who made Hotel Paisano their hangout for 6 weeks that summer. A large memorabilia room in the hotel offers a glimpse of this cinematic extravaganza.

After changing hands several times over the decades and falling into disrepair in the early 2000s, the Hotel Paisano has had a facelift and is now completely renovated with 41 rooms and suites. “The Paisano Hotel is a West Texas destination again,” boasts the hotel’s website.

In addition to its stylish accommodations, the Paisano features a seasonally heated swimming pool, an extensive gift shop and art gallery, as well as a casual restaurant and lounge, Jett’s Grill, with seats in the yard.

The Paisano is the perfect place to indulge in a bit of Hollywood glamor while exploring Big Bend Country.

The pool at the Indian Lodge in Fort Davis, Texas
The Indian Lodge sits amongst the Davis Mountains. (Photo credit: Cindy Barks)

5. Indian Pavilion, Fort Davis

For a step back in time, a trip through West Texas should also include a stop at the Indian Lodge, a small oasis amidst the rugged Davis Mountains. With its pueblo-style walls that glisten in the sun, the Indian Lodge stands out for its fascinating history. Developed in the middle of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the lodge was built by companies from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the program that put unemployed youth to work during the Depression.

The state park’s website notes that two CCC companies molded adobe blocks from a mixture of water, straw, and dirt, “and placed tens of thousands of blocks of 40 books to form walls 12 to 18 inches thick, many of which rise up to three stories.

More than eight decades later, the Indian Lodge offers rustic yet comfortable accommodations in Davis Mountains State Park. The interior of the lodge features hand-hewn pine beams and furnishings, and the outdoor area offers a scenic courtyard with a refreshing pool overlooking the mountainous terrain.

I found the Indian Lodge to be a great base for exploring the scenic national park and quaint town of Fort Davis. The lodge has 39 rooms, many of which open onto the courtyard seating areas.

Pro tip: The lodge’s restaurant, the Black Bear Restaurant, is open for breakfast and dinner Wednesday through Sunday.

The historic Hotel Limpia in Fort Davis, Texas
The historic Limpia Hotel in Fort Davis (Photo credit: Cindy Barks)

6. Limpia Hotel, Fort Davis

In 1912, when Hotel Limpia was built in the mile-high Texas town of Fort Davis, the small pink stone hotel was known as a popular destination for “Summer Swallows” – out-of-town visitors who arrived on time. for the cool summer climate that Fort Davis and the surrounding Davis Mountains had to offer.

Today, 110 years later, this charming Victorian-style hotel still attracts visitors seeking the cool breeze of the Davis Mountains. Located in the middle of downtown Fort Davis, the Limpia offers easy access not only to the hotel’s courtyard garden, glassed-in veranda and quiet porches, but also to the many restaurants and shops that line the streets of Fort Davis.

It is also near the Fort Davis National Historic Site, one of the best-preserved examples of a military frontier post in the southwestern United States.

Pro tip

Less than a 5 hour and 30 minute drive from Big Bend National Park is the major West Texas town of El Paso, known for its own historic hotels. The best known is the luxurious Hotel Paso Del Norte, Autograph Collection, a 1912 creation by the architectural firm Trost & Trost. For other El Paso gems, see 5 Unique Staycations in El Paso, Texas.

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