By June Naylor
Photos courtesy of Gathering Guesthouses
Take another look at Fredericksburg
The Hill Country burg is a different place from the town we first sought out for a bed-and-breakfast hideaway two decades ago. Main Street sidewalks remain busy, but today‚ visitors seek out sleek wine-tasting rooms as often as curio shops. And visitors sit down to plates of gravlax or wagyu bourguignon as readily as Wiener schnitzel and burgers. Cooking classes and spa treatments — distant dreams years back — are now major draws in the countryside an hour-and-some west of Austin. Quaint B&Bs remain plentiful, but now they are joined by sophisticated and contemporary lodgings. A recent visit turned up some new ways to while away a weekend in the beloved Texas getaway that has gotten ever better with age. — June Naylor
The Gathering Guesthouses offer varied locations, some just a few blocks off Main Street — like the one pictured above — and others in the wine country about 12 miles from town. The modern but ultracomfy bungalows — The Pumphouse, The Hideway, The Farmhouse plus five more — are located on the grounds of a former granary. All accommodations provide a bedroom and roomy bath, living area with fireplace and full kitchen plus patio or porch. Some have a fire pit, hot tub, outdoor shower, swimming pool and more. The problem is deciding which one to book.
632 Post Oak Road, 833-428–4371, thegatheringguesthouses.com
Within beautiful, renovated historic structures — some stone houses nearly 150 years old, one a century-old farmhouse, some stucco cottages, another a rustic log cabin — Hoffman Haus offers rooms, suites and whole houses. Vintage furniture, fine bedding and room to unwind are the common threads, and there’s a spa, along with a new cooking school, on-site.
608 E. Creek St., 830-997-6739, hoffmanhaus.com
Emma + Ollie Perhaps the best news around these parts is that the Pastry Queen is back. Chef Rebecca Rather, famous for her cookbooks and the much-missed Rather Sweet Bakery, recently opened breakfast/lunch hot spot Emma + Ollie in a beautiful old bungalow. Beignets, offered all day, are powdered-sugar-dusted clouds, and you won’t want to miss the biscuit bar. Poached lobster Benedict is an unforgettable brunch treat. At lunch, the fried oyster nachos are eye-rolling good, as is the kale salad topped with fried chicken thighs. A smart wine list — offerings from local wineries as well as California and Old World vintages — is icing on the cake. Do not pass up the bakery case, especially if fresh strawberry kolaches are available.607 S. Washington St., 830-383-1013, emmaolliefbg.com
V Supper Club
A chic dining experience awaits at V Supper Club, across the patio from the shop with lunch bistro Vaudeville. Open only Friday and Saturday evenings, this elegant retreat boasts a tasting menu with wine pairings that seems transported from a big-city restaurant. Chef Jordan Muraglia crafts seven petite courses, and a sommelier team chooses beautiful wines from around the globe. Sit at the small, swanky bar and sip chartreuse-hued cocktails made with genever, a Dutch-made juniper-based spirit; a pear liqueur; and pressed celery juice, garnished with a fresh lavender sprig. Among a la carte bites, the black truffle-lobster ramen paired with the 2017 Figuière Le Saint André vermentino from Côtes de Provence is a favorite. 230 E. Main St., 830-992-3234, vaudeville-living.com