Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek
The sun had risenat six-thirty, and for the first time in ages I woke up without an alarm. I ran down the outside wooden stairs with a book and flopped onto a sofa on the breezy dogtrot between the two halves of the main lodge. A pot of coffee—good coffee—would be ready in an hour or less. As the sky turned from peach to baby blue and breakfast aromas began to waft from the dining room, the silhouettes of scrubby trees came into focus along the grassy slope stretching down to the creek. Besides the kitchen workers stirring up biscuits, the only person around was the pool guy, skimming leaves.
Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek is only thirty miles from Austin but light-years outside its orbit. The 88 acres feature two historic-looking buildings and several cottages hidden in the Hill Country underbrush, giving you the feeling of a bygone, more rustic time. But this is a carefully crafted illusion. At night, I sank into a pillow-top mattress. In the afternoon, I dozed off in my room’s whirlpool tub. A grueling stroll along the hiking trails would no doubt require a visit to the new spa, located in a quaint tin-roofed building next to beds of sunflowers. And in the dining room, seated at reclaimed-wood tables beneath a filament-light chandelier, my fellow guests and I enjoyed chef Ryan Castille’s agreeable dinner of empanadas with two sauces (a red-pepper-and-almond romesco and an avocado puree); an inch-thick pork chop topped with a slice of grilled fresh pineapple and sided by whipped sweet potatoes; and prickly-pear panna cotta in the most astounding shade of fuchsia.
Dinner changes nightly, so you’ll want to come back—and when you do, you must, repeat must, come early to soak up the atmosphere. You needn’t be an overnight guest to spot a raccoon or fox, poke around the vegetable gardens, hear the little tzip of a hummingbird’s wings along a gravel path, or sit around the fire pit as twilight falls, a blanket across your lap, soaking up the vision of a simpler life. You’ll be back to your real one soon enough. —Patricia Sharpe
Eat: Dinner nightly. Three courses $30 (prix fixe). Reservations required. 4444 FM 150, 800-579-7686.
Stay: Rates range from $259 to $449, including breakfast and dinner. If Sage Hill is booked, stay out in the country at comfy Mt. Gainor Inn, about 16 miles away in Dripping Springs, or at hip Hotel Flora and Fauna, 12 miles away in Wimberley.
Play: Go shopping on the town square in Wimberley, especially at the Wild West Store, where the “Boot Whisperer” holds court, or see glassblowers in action at Wimberley Glassworks, near San Marcos. You can also visit Driftwood for tastings at the Duchman Family Winery, housed in an imposing Tuscan-style stone edifice.