Go Inside Hotelier Liz Lambert’s Private Marfa Retreat
‘The Queen of Cool’ turned an old ranch bunkhouse into a West Texas getaway, complete with a dreamy desert bathhouse. No Wi-Fi, no problem.
Black and white photos of Lambert’s grandparents, cousins, mother, and brothers adorn the wall in the kitchen, whose floor is lined with tile that she found at an overstock shop in Houston. “My favorite photograph is one of my grandmom. She’s on horseback. She’s in her twenties or thirties, in a mesquite corral with the cowboys who are branding the cattle. There’s a wood fire with irons in it, and she’s just roped the calf while the horse is holding it taut.” Photograph by Casey Dunn
It’s fitting that the hideaway of one of Texas’s greatest creative minds is found in a one-story, olive-colored stucco home on a dirt road about twelve miles outside of Marfa. After all, “Queen of Cool” Liz Lambert has built her hospitality empire (including the San José and Saint Cecilia hotels in Austin, the Hotel Havana in San Antonio, and Marfa’s El Cosmico) on an aesthetic that’s grounded in minimalism and layered with interesting, authentic details. The structure, built in the sixties, sits on Lambert’s family ranch and once served as a bunkhouse for the foreman—Lambert not only calls the retreat the Bunkhouse, but her hospitality company is called Bunkhouse Group. It was unoccupied when Lambert took it over and transformed it into a stylish retreat, filled with unique finds (a discarded road sign, old oil barrels) and marked by her signature design style. Lambert shares the space with her wife, makeup artist Erin Lee Smith. It’s where they toasted their wedding in 2016—after returning from a ceremony in Tulum—under a big tent beneath the West Texas sky. It’s where they will celebrate the Fourth of July and where they will host one of their long and lingering dinner parties with friends around candlelit farm tables during El Cosmico’s annual Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love Festival, which is September 20-23 this year. “It’s almost always where we celebrate Thanksgiving with our large, extended family,” Lambert says. “Even though there are other spots that would be more accommodating, everyone likes to be outside together here—hiking, shooting skeet, or just gathering around the campfire at night.” Take a tour through her welcoming and effortlessly cool rooms (and the ultimate outdoor bathhouse).