Style & Design

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.

Liz Lambert

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).


  • MarkinTex

    Cute house, nice looking property, though at the end of the day it’s still in Marfa, the most overrated, overhyped “hip hotspot” just about anywhere. The best thing about Marfa is leaving it and taking only 30 minutes to get to Fort Davis, which is the real gem of Trans-Pecos towns.

    • Michael A

      Yep. I remember our first trip, it was the last weekend of August and we thought we were crazy to go in the middle of summer. I have a photo I took of the dash of my truck showing the outside temperature at 59 degrees at noon on a Friday in the Davis Mountains.

  • Michael A

    Cool home, great work–I can imagine what it took. I sat at the bar of the Holland Hotel/Alpine and had drinks with a general contractor that was doing renovations and expansion of some head honcho’s swakienda ranch home outside of Alpine. He had to bring in his electricians, plumbers, and other trades from San Antonio and bunk them in a local motel. They also had to truck in all their materials. I remember reading in the Alpine paper an ad for Home Depot in Odessa that said “we make deliveries to Alpine twice a week!” Don’t expect it fast or cheap, but beautiful country.