When listening to the song “Miles and Miles of Texas” by Asleep at the Wheel, thoughts of Hwy 237 in Round Top (population 90) soon come to mind. Located between Houston and Austin, this tiny town is big on space and hospitality.
Best known as home to one of the country’s largest antique shows each spring and fall, Round Top otherwise offers a year-round quiet escape for city dwellers. (Due to the pandemic, the spring show was cancelled.)
Now, why not take advantage of this wide open space, without the crowds? The eclectic Rancho Pillow embodies the area’s creative vibes, while offering spiritual renewal and a safe social distance from other groups. Owner Sheila Youngblood has poured her artistic soul into Rancho’s 20 acres, with five unique and colorful dwellings open for your next retreat.
Pandemic Pillow Talk
Rancho Pillow allows only one group or family in each house at any given time for privacy and social distancing. At least three days of vacancy between reservations allows for proper sanitation and deep cleaning. Updated protocols include increased disinfecting of all high-touch surfaces and extra hand sanitizer in several rooms of each home. Kitchen space in all the homes make it easy to bring your own food and control meal preparation in your own space. Concierge service offers touch-free ordering and delivery from local restaurants.
Only steps away from the Red House, the wading pool (open until 11pm) invites you to take a dip under a blanket of stars in the evening. Up to five people can relax at least six feet apart, while gazing at the stunning night sky and listening to music.
Sleeping up to ten guests and over 2,300 square feet, the Red House is a two-story 1836 restored farmhouse. Easily accessed on the first floor, the main bedroom has its own bathroom. Upstairs, a second king suite shares a bathroom with the generous loft. (One queen, 4 single beds, and a gigantic floor pillow called a “love sack.”) With a fully appointed kitchen, full-sized washer and dryer, and half-bath next to the laundry facilities, this house sets the bar for privacy and cleanliness. In addition to a vibrant collection of Latin-American folk art, the porches are a highlight of the Red House. Step onto the back porch to read a book, or watch the kids play in a generously-sized whimsical tree house. Several rocking chairs on the front porch offer ideal lounging, beneath the colorful string of outdoor lights and sounds of nature.
Bearing the prominent Rancho Pillow Motel sign, the so-called Barn is a house fit for a queen (three, actually). Two bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms, for privacy and cleanliness. The top level of this barn holds the Crow’s Nest, not easily accessed but without question, the winner of the house’s “Top Bed” award. Literature lovers will swoon over the Poetry Library. Prepare a full meal in the gourmet kitchen before dining at long farmhouse tables on the sprawling 700 square foot porch. After dinner, light up a fire pit just outside (complimentary firewood onsite). Take a quiet stroll through the property, or schedule a private yoga class to deepen your relaxation.
Rancho Pillow’s newest addition is the Tower House, also known as the Surf Shack, with its funky vintage beach decor. Constructed entirely of reclaimed materials, this dwelling is both rustic and well-appointed with luxury linens and two porches. The queen bed (with ensuite bath), day bed, loft with a full bed, and kitchenette are just right for a smaller tribe on a short escape. Also repurposed, the Loveshack has been converted from a storage shed to a vacation home sleeping up to four, complete with a pedestal tub, kitchenette, and laundry facilities.
Camping with Benefits
Looking to camp out with a few extras (AC, shower and a bed)? Consider staying in the Teepee. Open a real door to find a luxurious king-sized bed and artfully finished walls.
Only steps away, the unique Rancho bathhouse invites you to soak in a pedestal tub or indulge in a private outdoor shower, complete with fluffy towels, washcloths and toiletries. Individual toilet stalls are well-ventilated, with a large exterior wash basin for frequent hand-washing and easy access.
The Concierge offers an electronic grocery list which you either complete in advance or upon arrival. No need for a trip to the store as your items are purchased for you and delivered directly to your temporary home. Rancho Pillow also supports local restaurants through safe dining options and touch-free transactions. Use the WiFi network to easily access local menus, place your order through the concierge, electronically add charges to your room, and await your front porch delivery.
We savored gourmet burgers and rosemary French fries from The Garden Company and Cafe, arriving within one hour of ordering. Also offering delivery are nearby Mandito’s Mexican, Poppi Burger, Royer’s Cafe and Lulu’s Italian. Make this trip a la mode, with a stop by the sister bakery to Royer’s Cafe, Royers Pie Haven. Featuring freshly made pies (whole and by-the-slice) and other to-go or curbside-delivered baked treats, Royers raises the pie bar to new heights and sweetens the ride home.
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Cover photo courtesy Rancho Pillow
Dana Maass is an occupational therapist working her way through the 2020 pandemic while finding creative ways to unwind. Follow Dana on Instagram at @Dana_Maass_Adventures for inspiration on safely escaping, taking care of yourself, and finding joy in the moment.