Named the best hotel in Texas by Condé Nast Traveler, the Gage Hotel offers a haven of refined cowboy charm in the midst of the vast, rugged West Texas landscape.
What To Know
- Rates in the mid-$200 range
- For a hotel seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the restaurant is always packed; advance reservations are recommended
- Most rooms do not have a TV
- Light continental breakfast included
- Pet friendly
What to Love
- Historic hotel that flawlessly pulls off stylish, sophisticated Western decor
- Buzzy White Buffalo Bar with a storied - and fantastically pink - Prickly Pear Margarita
- Award-winning restaurant that uses locally sourced ingredients and has its own private label wine selection
- Variety of accommodation options, including the main hotel, the Captain Shepard House, and casitas
Whenever I mentioned I was heading out west to Big Bend, people seemed to always respond with, "There's the greatest little hotel out there!" Tales of drool-worthy steak dinners in its restaurant, romantic weekend getaways, and decadent spa treatments were spoken of like they were part of some old Texas lore. And in some ways, that's not too far from the truth.
Set in the small town of Marathon, Texas, the Gage Hotel was originally built in 1927 by architect Henry Trost (the same architect who designed the nearby Hotel Paisano) to serve as an operations base for Alfred Gage's enormous 500,000 acre ranch. Today, it maintains the spirit of the old frontier and is still used by ranchers from across the prairies of West Texas as a social hub. Being surrounded by the "real deal" gives the hotel a refreshing sense of understated authenticity that distinguishes it from other Western-themed hotels, which can feel more nostalgic and kitschy. It's rustic luxury, cowboy chic, and old-fashioned hospitality at its best.
While the hotel only has 45 rooms, the complex dominates Marathon's main street and sprawls through the town. In addition to the main, historic building, there are twenty adobe-style rooms that wrap around a lush courtyard, a recently restored colonial-style house (the former home of the town's founder), three casitas, a restaurant and bar, a pool, a game lot, a spa, a fitness center, and 27 acres of gardens (that include a one mile jogging loop). The use of intimate common spaces and on-site amenities encourage you to kick back and relax, but the enthusiastic concierge is also happy to arrange excursions, such as guided tours of nearby Big Bend National Park, to help you explore their slice of the West.
Each guestroom is unique and cozy, and tastefully furnished with Western or Mexican-inspired decor (the antique Mexican doors in Los Portales are swoon worthy). The Captain Shepard House, where I stayed, was full of wonderful details and felt like being invited to a wealthy rancher's private home. The room was lovely and spacious with a separate, private bathroom, and I loved sitting outside on the wraparound porch at night and working at the massive dining room table in the morning. With just five rooms and a carriage house, the house would be absolutely perfect to rent out for a wedding or a weekend getaway with friends! Regardless of whether you stay in the main building, Los Portales, the Captain Shepard House, or the casitas, each room is equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi, snuggly bath robes, premium bedding, upscale toiletries, coffee machine, and bottled water.
The sleepy, quaint ranching town of Marathon (pop: 500) makes the perfect base to explore the spectacular Big Bend National Park, one of the most remote and least visited parks in the country. Like the park, the town has some of the darkest skies in the country and makes a great spot for stargazing. There's even a designated stargazing spot, near the Marathon Motel, with a 24 inch Dobsonian telescope that was donated by nearby McDonald Observatory.
More Photos of the Gage Hotel
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Thanks to the Gage Hotel for hosting my stay! As always, all opinions are my own.