Sunsets are second to none in the gently rolling hills of central Texas, which are speckled with getaways ranging from bohemian to majestic in appearance, but equally romantic in ambience. Even residents of the Lone Star State can take a short day trip and feel worlds away from their daily routine. Here, we found the five best places to get away with your main squeeze — whether for your anniversary or just because.
Hotel Saint Cecilia, Austin
Tucked away in Travis Heights, just near the colorful South Congress strip, Hotel Saint Cecilia features vividly furnished bungalows, suites and studios featuring hand-picked couture furniture. Named after the patron saint of music and poetry, it’s only appropriate that each room is equipped with turntables, iPod connections and Geneva sound systems. The Saint Cecilia Library is filled with carefully curated books and vinyl, as well as films on writers and musicians. The mini bar of each art-centric room is stocked with the highest quality treats procured both locally and globally. Many of the bungalows feature private courtyards or backyards with built-in wet bars and fire pits, and their signature neon “soul” sign reflects against the hotel’s 50-foot pool surrounded by a courtyard of curvaceous live oak trees. Rent bikes from the front desk to explore the Travis Heights neighborhood on wheels, or simply lounge with a drink in hand on the beautiful grounds. For the perfect romantic getaway, book Suite 1, which features a spacious soaking tub and outdoor shower. Have a s’mores kit and champagne delivered for two types of toasting at your private fire pit, then sink into your room’s handmade Hästens beds for a night of pure luxury.
Mokara Hotel & Spa, San Antonio
When visiting San Antonio, a trip to the historic River Walk is a must, and the best place to stay is the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Mokara Hotel & Spa, a calm oasis situated right in the middle of the action. Rooms are bathed in the purity of cream tones, warm wood and marble highlights, with Jacuzzi tubs and lofty ceilings. Opt for a river view room to soak in a gorgeous peek of the twinkling canal from your own private balcony — or a spa room, which is conveniently situated near the 17,000-square-foot Four-Star spa. With treatment packages for both him and her, an extensive à la carte menu and a Texas Two-Step couples massage option, the possibilities for relaxation are endless. After your service, wind down your night with riverfront fine dining at Ostra, where executive chef John Brand uses the freshest sustainable seafood to create dishes such as blackened redfish with polenta and spinach or jumbo scallops with coconut peanut curry, snow peas, bok choy and rice noodles. For your next break, opt for Mokara’s Rejuvenation package, which includes luxurious accommodations, a 50-minute signature massage or facial, and breakfast for two.
Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek, near Austin
Just a 30-minute drive from Austin, Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek is situated on 88 acres of rustic, meditative central Texas land. Choose from 15 guest rooms, including four private cottages and several suites, all with beautiful views of the Hill Country. Each night’s stay comes with a three-course dinner by chef Ryan Castille, who focuses on local, seasonal ingredients, many grown in the rainwater-irrigated garden at the entrance to the inn. Recent dishes included pecan-crusted tilapia with brown butter, sautéed kale and gnocchi, as well as herb-roasted game hen with red quinoa and Brussels sprouts. The next morning, you’ll be served breakfast made-to -order, and you can help yourself to freshly squeezed orange juice, fruit salad and a spread of fresh baked breads and housemade jams in the warmly sunlit dining room. After a satisfying meal, traverse miles of hiking and birding trails (walking sticks and water provided), play bocce, horseshoes, and washers, or lounge in one of the many hammocks found across the grounds. Unwind with a treatment such as an herbal body wrap in the newly renovated Garden Spa, or venture to any of the nearby wineries such as Driftwood Estate Winery and Vineyard. As the sun goes down, warm up around the oversized custom fire pit, or in the giant hot tub that looks out over the hills alongside a pool. Another secluded hot tub can be found within the woods near the Ranch House, and the cottages feature their own fireside whirlpool — the tub at Maurice’s Coach House even plays music through speakers along the sides.
The Inn at Dos Brisas, Washington
It’s hard to believe that the grand Four-Star hotel was once one family’s ranch. The luxury inn resides on 313 acres of meadowland between Houston and Austin. Retreat to one of its nine Spanish-style haciendas and casitas outfitted with stone fireplaces, French oak floors, cathedral ceilings, oriental carpets, French doors opening to private poolside patios and lounge chairs gazing across horse paddocks and looking ponds. The restaurant at Dos Brisas is the only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant in Texas, featuring produce grown in its greenhouse as well as on its certified organic farmland and orchards. The Spanish-style dining room features an 18th-century fireplace and 7,000-bottle wine cellar, too. Executive chef Zachary Ladwig infuses French and Asian techniques with a Texas twist to produce a unique and exquisite menu. Choose from the eatery’s tasting menu for dinner with options such as Nantucket Bay scallops with roasted fregola and green garlic jus, or savor a relaxing breakfast on your private patio. The kitchen will even pack a picnic lunch for you to enjoy while out for a day of fun, which could include horseback riding, fishing, skeet shooting, biking, gardening lessons or wine tastings. For your passionate break, indulge in a couples massage in the comfort of your room, or treat yourselves to the Romance on the Ranch package. The first night begins with a seasonal feast at the restaurant and concludes with s’mores and a rose petal turndown. The second day features a horseback ride for two, a massage and a four-course fireside meal delivered directly to your hacienda.
Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas
Four-Star Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek is an ornate estate steeped in Dallas history. Once home to a cotton baron, the design of the structure itself harkens back to the Italian Renaissance. In the past 50 years, the mansion was a venue for the biggest society parties in the city, with guests such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Tennessee Williams in attendance. Now a boutique hotel, Rosewood Mansion boasts modern yet classic suites featuring local art, fully equipped kitchens and separate powder rooms. Its Four-Star The Mansion Restaurant, which serves new American cuisine with a French twist such as red snapper with artichoke, saffron and squid, is known as one of the top fine dining establishments in Dallas. You’ll have your choice to dine alfresco on the terrace or inside the ambient dining room. Consider the Mansion Sweetheart Deal For Two promotion for an amorous weekend. Those who indulge in this offer can enjoy accommodations with a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, an aromatherapy bath, rose petal turndown, a pair of personalized, embroidered pillowcases, valet parking and breakfast in-room or at the restaurant.
Photo Courtesy of Sage Hill Inn