The phrase “bed and breakfast” often conjures images of stuffy homes filled with dusty doilies and wide-eyed doll collections. But the B&B industry and its standards have evolved. Say goodbye to the days of old squeaky beds and rows of frivolous throw pillows and embrace the shift toward classically elegant and strikingly modern retreats. Whether you prefer attentive or hands-off service, accommodations steeped in history or an urban atmosphere, there’s a (feather-topped or custom-built) bed and a (candle-lit or grab-and-go) breakfast that fits your needs.
High Design in Austin
Walk through the central courtyard at the Kimber Modern—where guests sway on Ting Sling hammocks, woven from seatbelts, next to angular gardens—and your preconceived B&B notions will quickly be thrown out the floor-to-ceiling windows. Seven rooms are light-filled and minimalist, with custom platform beds and bold, whimsical paintings by Martha Gannon, a Texas-based artist. Aqua glass-tiled bathrooms (suites have deep German Duravit soaking tubs) have Malin+Goetz soaps and shampoos, and dimmable lights can be controlled with a bedside switch. The self-serve breakfast includes local Austin favorites Jake’s Granola and Barrett’s micro-roast coffee, and after a day of people-watching along nearby South Congress Avenue, unwind in the evening at the five o’clock wine and beer happy hour. There’s no formal check-in or check-out process (guests pay online and enter rooms via a key code), so while Kimber Cavendish and Vicki Faust, the owners, are on hand to restock complimentary Topo Chico sodas or recommend restaurants, guests can slip in and out undetected.
110 The Circle, 512-912-1046,kimbermodern.com, rooms from $250.
Corpus Christi Beach Retreat
Just five blocks from the beach and the city’s lively marina, the manicured 1904 George Blucher House is a tranquil option for those looking for something other than a worn-out waterfront hotel. Rooms are thoughtfully decorated with antique furnishings, oriental rugs and original art. In-room spa appointments are available, or guests can borrow books from the small library and settle in the surrounding garden set up with a koi pond and feeders that attract diverse migrating birds. And while Rumsford and Gianni, the two dogs belonging to the owner, Tracey Love Smith, are not allowed inside, they may greet you under the pecan and magnolia trees. Ms. Smith, who elevates the ceremony of the most important meal of the day, treats breakfast “more like a dinner party.” On weekends, the grandiose three-course, candle-lit affair includes entrees like grilled vegetable frittatas or cheese souffles and ends with desserts like bananas Foster served in a puff pastry.
211 North Carrizo, 361-884-4884, georgeblucherhouse.com, rooms from $119.
City Escape in Houston
When Genora Boykins and Sharon Owens opened La Maison in Midtown in the city center last year, they knew their clientele would range from Galleria-bound leisure travelers to oil business executives. So while the redbrick building has a distinct sense of place thanks to its complimentary Southern-inspired breakfasts—shrimp and crabmeat quiche and French toast made with cranberries and Mascarpone cheese are two top dishes—it also has hotel-style amenities like guest passes to the nearby 24 Hour Fitness, plush cotton robes, Gilchrist & Soames bath products, and keycard entry. “In other words, you don’t feel like you’re sleeping in someone else’s bedroom,” Boykins said. Every afternoon, an urban high tea—wine and cheese alongside coffee and tea—is offered in a downstairs parlor or on the veranda, where shady trees frame views of the Houston skyline.
2800 Brazos Street, 713-529-3600, lamaisonmidtown.com, rooms from $159.
Marshall Historic Hideaway
Three Oaks Bed & Breakfast in Marshall’s Ginocchio Historic District—also known for the 1912 Texas & Pacific Railroad Depot and the 1896 Ginocchio Hotel—is celebrating its 25th year as a bed and breakfast this year. Its well-preserved interiors, original leaded windows, and fireplaces with hand-carved wooden overmantels, and its guestrooms are outfitted with original clawfoot bathtubs and antique furnishings like 1880s Renaissance Revival armoires and dressers. After a homemade breakfast of fresh fruit and chocolate Belgian waffles, grab a rocking chair on the sweeping veranda and enjoy what is now considered more old fashioned than the 1895 house itself: an unplugged, quiet moment.
609 North Washington Avenue, 903-935-6777, threeoaks-marshall.com, rooms from $80.
Food-focused in Wimberley
The Blair House Inn operates as a Hill Country B&B with twelve accommodation options ranging from Main House rooms to stand-alone cottages. But it is best known for its intense two- and three-day cooking courses led by the executive chef Norris Sebastian, formerly of the Four Seasons in Dallas and AquaKnox Restaurant in Las Vegas. The hands-on classes with small groups of aspiring cooks only break for the multi-course meals they make with local foods, including herbs and vegetables grown in the Blair House’s own garden, which are incorporated whenever possible. Retire to fresh, country-style bedrooms that look out on the property’s 22 tree-covered acres. Turndown includes carafes of red or white wine and freshly baked desserts.
100 West Spoke Hill Drive, 512-847-1111, blairhouseinn.com, rooms from $150.