The twin cities Bryan/College Station are known for wide-open spaces and avid college football fans. It’s a place where tailgating and country-western dance halls prevail. Known as ‘Aggieland,’ the college town has evolved from an agricultural hub to a more sophisticated spot where travelers seeking an affordable luxury hotel can now hang their hat.
After attending an intimate family wedding in Bryan-College Station, I headed for an overnight stay at The Stella Hotel. The 176-room boutique hotel is so new that it didn’t show up on the GPS. But a quick phone call to the concierge sorted out the confusion and soon I discovered the stylish wonderland, set amongst rolling Texas pastures.
The hotel stands starkly against its surroundings, a modern design amidst an open Texas sky. As I checked-into the hotel, the natural lighting and immediate open view of the restaurant Campfire and the bar Hershel’s Speakeasy welcomed me home.
“The design inspiration for The Stella comes from the spirit of its place in Central Texas,” said Song Chia of FAB Studio. “That is characterized by a landscape of rolling hills and robust flora and fauna that gave rise to a simple, yet warm and welcoming country lifestyle. It also reflects the juxtaposition of the region moving ahead of its time with a burgeoning research and technology corridor without the tendency of pretention.”
Design DMU was chosen to design the hotel, and met the criteria of creating a place that would withstand the next 20 years.
“We wanted great design talent that also understood Texas,” said Spencer Clements, president of William Cole Companies. “Texas is vibrant, creative and full of potential. The design team developed the idea of a virtually transparent lower level, with views into and out of the exciting public spaces like Campfire and Hershel’s Speakeasy.”
The Stella’s suite concepts were a first for Bryan-College Station. Comfortable furnishings and surroundings from a Central Texas-inspired color palette create the friendly atmosphere felt throughout the hotel.
As Bryan-College Station’s population has grown to 250,000 residents, it is becoming known as more than a college town. “Lake Walk is a 1,000-acre master-planned community that is next-door to The Stella that’s geared toward the refined adult crowd. It will include the Atlas community, a Nicklaus-designed golf course and multi-use paths, planned walking trails and three lakes, giving residents and guests the ability to enjoy a healthy lifestyle,” said Clements. Additionally, Lake Walk Town Center will include office space, shops, and restaurants.
The Stella’s allure lies in its unpretentious vibe. Each design element carefully adds a special touch, while magically creating a casual, comforting feeling. We spent hours swilling red wine from Hershel’s and gazing into the blazing fire pit.
Food from Campfire went hand-in-hand in making our stay complete. Remaining true to the farm-to-table concept, I enjoyed the Sunday buffet’s range of choices, especially the thick-cut bacon and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Campfire offers specials based on what food is in season. “The current menu highlights include Rohan duck breast with braised leg, lavender honey glazed, buttered kohlrabi, and gingered duck jus; Berkshire pork chop with crusted, spring legumes, tender herbs, and wild onion salsa verde; and Gulf snapper with pan-roasted, organic carrots, pancetta, and Meyer lemon,” said Peggy Trott, general manager.