There’s something about travel that just seems to pull at us, a desire to explore new places and experience different adventures. The draw of Texas Hill Country is strong, lulling millions of visitors each year with a promise to return peace to our combustible lives.

Glamping is an interwoven mix of comfort and rustic down-to-Earth desire that allows travelers to enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous views while still enjoying the pleasures of home.

Hill Country glamping is a bit different, though. A bit bigger. It is Texas after all.

These off-the-beaten-path destinations offer incredible scenery and plenty of outdoor activities, but it’s the over-the-top luxury and amenities that set them all apart. No one glamping spot is truly better than the others. They’re all quirky and different — just like each of us. That’s why you should take the time to experience them all.

Talula Mesa

Located 30 minutes northwest of Austin near Marble Falls, Texas, Talula Mesa is a luxurious glamping destination built on 15 acres of private land. Guests are treated to peaceful mornings, stunning views, and captivating evenings under the stars.

“We’re tucked in one of the last undiscovered pockets of Lake Travis that’s still quiet and undeveloped,” says Shannon Taylor, owner, and creator. “We’re in dark sky country, where shooting stars can still be spotted regularly.”

Talula Mesa overlooks the north shore of Lake Travis and includes four tent-style glamping options spread out over the property for maximum privacy. The three large tents are nearly identical in build but differ in decor and location.

Here the ambiance of Hill Country, intertwined with the private setting, lends itself to the perfection of the gorgeous design of Talula Mesa. It’s a place where modern comfort meets cowboy rustic, and it entices you to disconnect from your routine.

Talula Mesa amenities

The Grand Aztec tent is a fan favorite, giving guests a pristine view of the lake and surrounding hills. Another option is The Grand Arrow tent which has a lake view but with a few more visible trees, while The Grand Tesoro tent is closer to the bathhouse and provides a more intimate view of the hill country.

The larger tents have a queen and king-sized bed and a propane fireplace (in the winter), while the Mini Aztec tent is equipped with a single king-size bed, a microwave, a space heater (in the winter), and a million dollars worth of views. It’s a cozy option for couples or a great place to stash the kids (or your mother-in-law).

No matter which tent you want to experience, they all have floor-to-ceiling glass on the backside with covered porches in the front and the rear. French presses, tea kettles, and mini-fridges also come standard in the larger tent offerings. Air conditioning and heat are provided, which come in handy for those warm Texas summer days and brisk fall nights.

An outdoor cooking area is loaded with grills, a water cooler, a full-sized refrigerator and freezer, a microwave, and all the cooking and dining supplies you’ll need.

While the tents currently share a common bathhouse, plans are in the works for private washing facilities later in 2022.

Visitors to Talula Mesa regularly gravitate to the nearby lake, where the paddleboards and kayaks that are offered by the resort are put to good use. Hammocks, campfires, a cowboy pool, grilling, bocce ball, corn hole, and more are offered free, but it’s the little things about Talula Mesa that make it stand out.

“Most guests rave about our attention to design and detail. The bedding, the furniture, the hand-woven hammocks, the fun cowboy hats. Our tents are one-of-a-kind and more upscale than you’ll find in most spots,” Taylor shares.

Where: Shaw Drive, Marble Falls, Texas 78654

The Retreat on the Hill

If, at first, you find yourself star-struck when you arrive at The Retreat on the Hill, don’t worry, it’s a regular occurrence for most first-time visitors. Located an hour northwest of downtown Austin, The Retreat on the Hill is a dreamy glamping experience that often leaves guests completely in awe of the sheer beauty of this resort destination.

“Most people come for a little romantic getaway. [The Retreat on the Hill is] not too far from Austin and a great place to decompress,” says Bob Eveleth the co-founder. “We also have single people who come for a little personal retreat.”

The eclectic property (or “Glampominium” as it’s described) consists of a variety of glamping options including two tipis, two safari tents, The Eagle’s Nest large safari tent, the Bayview and Sunset cliff houses, a container suite, and the truly wondrous transparent Stardome bubble tent.

The Stardome is one of the most popular lodging options, and being completely see-through while also being perched 100 feet on top of the hill gives guests 365-degree views of the lake and the bay, and uninterrupted heavenly perspective where tracking constellations is as easy as laying down on the king-size bed.

The Retreat on the Hill amenities

The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas, so Eveleth and company have provided fun features such as telescopes that will help you find the Big Dipper as you relax by the fire pit on your private deck. Extra comforts like pod chairs, Bluetooth speakers, free WiFi, air conditioning, heating, a microwave, a mini-fridge, and freezer help keep you happy.

Each dwelling is different, just as it should be. The romance is in the details after all.

“We are known for our baths and showers (both indoor and outdoor). Each of our rooms are different, some have adjustable beds, some are on the edge of a cliff with transparent walls and see-through tubs — it is very eclectic,” Eveleth shares.

The star of the show remains the peace and serenity that guests of The Retreat on the Hill seem to find during their stay in Cottonwood Shores.

“From our guest books, we see we have facilitated many proposals, birthdays, and anniversaries.” Eveleth admits. “It is special to be part of a business that brings so much happiness, peace, and joy to our guests.”

Where: 4325 Cottonwood Drive, Cottonwood Shores, TX 78657

Wahwahtaysee Resort

On the banks of the San Marcos River, outside the small town of Kingsbury, lies Wahwahtaysee Resort, which is the very heart of seclusion but in the middle of everything Texas.

The resort rests on 100 acres of private land, but is only a handful of minutes from legendary barbecue joints, a Texas-sized water park, and the oldest dance hall in the state.

“Our resort is designed for both the family and the couple,” says Sammy Dillard, co-owner of Wahwahtaysee Resort. “Our biggest demographic would be families with young kids, but we have plenty of couples that come for special occasions.”

Seven South African-crafted luxury safari tents, and one luxury container cabin, dot the Wahwahtaysee property that gives visitors access to fly-fishing, tubing, kayaking, hiking, stargazing, and more. The resort is also a short drive to Texas barbecue institutions such as Kreuz Market, the original Black’s Barbecue, and Smitty’s Market, Schlitterbahn Waterpark, and the iconic Gruene Hall.

“It will give you a chance to enjoy being in nature and relax. You can disconnect as much as you want, and being so close to major cities in Texas, you can make it a short or long trip,” Dillard states.

These choices, combined with luxurious amenities, allow the Wahwahtaysee landscape to coax guests into leaving their big city troubles behind and baptize themselves in the crystal clear San Marcos River water.

Wahwahtaysee Resort amenities

Wahwahtaysee keeps seven luxury tents, three of which have two bedrooms for larger families or groups traveling together.

Each glamping tent is 650 square feet of comfort including a king-size bed (the two-bedroom tents include a queen-size bed), a queen sleeper sofa, hardwood floors, air conditioning, heating, a shower, a spa bathtub, private flush toilets, a microwave, a mini fridge, French press, firewood, an outdoor shower, fresh cotton towels, and more.

Your stay at Wahwahtaysee Resort also includes a golf cart to zip you around the property quickly, Yeti Hondo chairs for relaxing on the river, and a gas grill to cook your meals to perfection.

Wahwahtaysee has partnered with a local chef to provide a private chef experience for added extravagance. There’s also a 150-year-old pecan orchard and walking trails that are on site to demand your attention.

“When guests stay at Wahwahtaysee, they should expect to have a good time,” Dillard says. “They can pack as many activities such as fly-fishing, float trips, kayak excursions, yoga, massages, or the private chef experience, or they can simply do nothing and relax by the river or in their luxurious tent or cabin.”

Where: 17062-17002, FM 20, Kingsbury, TX 78638

Cypress Valley

Your next adventure may be waiting in the treetops. At Cypress Valley in Spicewood, you’ll have the time to find out as you rest in your private slice of heaven on Earth.

Cypress Valley offers guests the rare opportunity to sleep in luxury treehouses, glamping tents, or a ranch-style house that’s perfect for larger groups.

We know what you might be thinking. Luxury treehouses?

“Our treehouses offer a unique escape from daily life that figuratively and literally elevates the feeling of doing something new and genuinely special,” says Amy Beilharz the co-owner of Cypress Vally. “Many people dreamt of sleeping in a treehouse when they were young, and this lets their adult inner child get a little playful while still sleeping in a king-size bed with comfy linens and maybe an onsen-style soaking tub to relax in. Our treehouses allow people to get inspired by “what’s possible” rather than “what is” and they can take that inspiration back into their own life.”

For an example of “what’s possible,” consider The Nest, a two-bedroom Swiss Family-style treehouse that ignites the adventure and creativity of when you were a kid as you walk among the bridges high above the ground that connects the structure, allowing you to scan the canopy and the surrounding landscape.

Hiking, fishing, jumping in the lake, and a zip line are all waiting for you should your need arise, or relax in bed and let the cares of the world drift away through the leaves.

Cypress Valley amenities

Cypress Valley has a shared amenity area which includes three barbecue grills, a pool, and a games area, plus a camp store with complimentary expresso. There are also shared restroom facilities with showers. A nature-inspired pool is perfect for when the lake is low, plus you’re only a short drive from Lake Travis or Krause Springs.

The Yoki, Lofthaven, Juniper, and Willow treehouses sleep two guests, while the Nest can accommodate up to six visitors. The glamping tents, which are new for 2022, sleep two each and the Ranch House can sleep up to 15 people.

The lodging amenities vary from king-size beds in the Yoki treehouse, Lofthaven, and glamping tents to private decks and luxury linens.

Where: 1223 Paleface Ranch Rd S, Spicewood, TX 78669

Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel

On the long stretch of Highway 290 that connects Houston and Austin, among the farmlands and pastures, you wouldn’t expect to find a luxury resort, much less one of the most unique experiences in the state.

Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel is just that and more. A 2020, it was Matador Network’s Best Hotels in the World winner. The space straddles the line between camping and extravagance as each shipping container “houze” has uniquely crafted interiors made from recycled and repurposed materials such as lumber from a Kentucky distillery, windows reclaimed from a demolished school in Philadelphia, and old bowling alley floors from Texas that now serve as countertops.

Outside are individual fire pits, Adirondack chairs, and clear lines of sight that allow visitors to take in dazzling sunsets over a lush Texas landscape or the twinkling of the Milky Way at night.

Beyond the six houzes, Flophouze also keeps a Beachouze (that sleeps eight) nearby on a small pond, a fully renovated Farmhouze (that sleeps 10) with a Victorian clawfoot tub, and the latest addition: the Ranchhouze that sleeps up to 18 guests and on 10 acres of tall oaks and rolling pastures.

Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel amenities

Each of the six on-property houzes (labeled with Roman numerals I-VI) come with air conditioning, heat, a Hollywood bathroom, kitchenette, sink, microwave, mini-fridge, complimentary tea and coffee, Topo Chico sparkling water, and Mexican cola. WiFi is also free and available to all guests.

According to White, these details, including sometimes overlooked items like linens, create the difference between a pleasant stay and a great experience.

“Visitors go wild over our beds and linens. I’ve traveled the world and stayed in some of the shittiest places, as well as some of the finest. To me, it’s all about the bed. The linens are key,” White says.

Guests also love the proximity to major cities and nearby attractions. Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas are all relatively short drives away from Flophouze. Fayette Lake is close to the property and allows for swimming and fishing for those that want to find peace on the water, while the nearby town of Round Top has a small market for snacks and supplies.

Despite the amenities that Flophouse Shipping Container Hotel provides, it’s the minimalistic simplicity offered that keeps it high on traveler’s lists around the country.

“The space is designed for those that want to chill and slow down, enjoy nature, sunsets, and a good old record.”

Where: 1132 W, Farm to Market Rd 1291, Round Top, TX 78954

Collective Retreats (Hill Country)

Collective Retreats has a wide selection of glamping experiences across the US, but it’s in the small town of Wimberley where their magic and luxurious touch truly shines.

The Wimberley location is dubbed “Collective Hill Country” and it’s bursting at the seams with glamping opulence, exciting local activities, and five-star culinary dining.

“Collective Hill Country is truly a one-of-a-kind travel experience. We’re situated in a 225-acre ranch where guests can escape into the heart of the Texas Hill Country and enjoy all the best parts of a camping experience with luxury amenities,” says Vanessa Vitale, chief hospitality officer at Collective Retreats. “Visitors can breathe the fresh Hill Country air, hike stunning trails, and venture into expansive outdoor spaces, and still return to plush beds, luxe bath products, gourmet meals, and locally inspired experiences, like Texas barbecue.”

Collective Hill Country gives guests several options, including Summit Tents for singles or couples, a Family Suite with tons of room, and the alluring Summit Tent Honeymoon Suite.

In between naps, reconnect with the family by experiencing a fantastic number of entertainment options including morning yoga, sound meditation, fly-fishing excursions, a hot sauce making class, s’mores by the campfire, and even “Woof Retreat” for your beloved furry companions.

Collective Retreats amenities

Amenities at Collective Hill Country range from wood-burning stoves that keep your space warm, king-size beds for plenty of beauty rest, luxe linens, and en-suite bathrooms. With all the touches of modern luxury that abound at Collective Hill Country, it may be the cuisine that keeps guests coming back.

“Our guests love our food and beverage program,” Vitale notes. “Our team of expert chefs take local ingredients and transform them into creative dining experiences, whether it’s a simple al fresco breakfast or a meticulous five-course tasting menu.”

Each tent is fully furnished and comes with a private deck giving your stay an immersive indoor-outdoor natural experience that you’ll adore no matter if you choose to head out to see the local sights, or stay in and simply watch the stars.

“By removing the boundaries between our guests and the destination, we want to help them connect with themselves, their loved ones, and the world around them. We hope they can experience the Texas Hill Country in a completely new way and leave feeling more energized and inspired than ever.”

Where: ​​7431 Fulton Ranch Rd, Wimberley, TX 78676

The Yurtopian Resort

Tent at The Yurtopian Resort glamping Texas Hill Country

Photo: The Yurtopian Resort/@texas.explorer

High on the hills of Wimberley, among the tall trees that adorn the area are a Mongolian medley of yurts (a circular tent-like structure) that invite travelers from across the nation to pack their bags, head to the Texas Hill Country, and leave their troubles behind.

The Yurtopian Resort offers guests an unparalleled experience of finding their inner happiness by embracing the simple comforts that only a place like this can offer.

“We are really selling a quiet, get out of the city, look at the stars, relax, and lie in your hammock experience. So it’s very much for an experiential traveler,” says Ann-Tyler Konradi who, along with her husband Brian Konradi, owns and operates The Yurtopian Resort.

The Yurtopian offers resorts in Wimberley and nearby Dripping Springs. The Wimberley resort consists of six remote yurts and three RiverBluff yurts. The six remote yurts (also called “gers”) are essentially hilltop sanctuaries that are strategically placed roughly 300 feet apart in the woods to provide maximum privacy.

“The number one reason people choose us is for the privacy,” explains Konradi. “There are a lot of glamping places out there where you have a shared bathroom or a shared fire pit, and you can hear the neighbors in the tent next door.”

The three RiverBluff yurts are more communal and provide access to the nearby Blanco River, but one thing that both locations share is their strict adults only policy (this goes for pets as well).

The Yurtopian Resort amenities

Photo: The Yurtopian Resort/@texas.explorer

Photo: The Yurtopian Resort/@texas.explorer

Each remote yurt is climate controlled to help with those hot Texas summers and surprisingly cold winters. They also come with an outdoor kitchen with a refrigerator, a bathroom with an outdoor shower, a fire pit, a rooftop deck for taking in the scenery, and a comfortable king-size bed. WiFi is also available for guests to use. With all that’s offered, though, what’s the amenity that gets all the guests talking?

“The hot tub, 100 percent the hot tub,” shares Konradi. “Our hot tubs are plunge pools in the summer and hot tubs in the winter. So you can turn on the little jets and just sit in them for cooling off in the summer time, or you can heat them up in the winter.”

The RiverBluff yurts trade a little space (they’re roughly 50 feet apart) for a community feel. Some shared amenities include a large fire pit, dining yurt, two grills, outdoor seating, access to the Blanco River, and two hot tubs. The good news for those travelers with a shy bladder, each of these options still has its own private bathroom and yard area.

No matter which experience you opt for, you’re going to have a relaxing, memorable stay.

“So sometimes our guests will come and never leave the yurt and just spend two or three nights unplugging, and rest, relax and do nothing. And other times, they’ll explore the area around us, or do a combination of both.”

Where: 135 Winn Ranch Rd, Wimberley, TX 78676

The Cell Block

Modern glamping is a blending together of the camping experience without leaving behind all the creature comforts of home. The movement, as we know it, began with adding luxury items to otherwise primitive experiences. It was the fun of being outdoors without having to deal with all that pesky nature.

The Cell Block in Clifton isn’t really camping, though. It’s also a stretch to call it a true “glamping” experience. Hell, until the 1970s The Cell Block was just that: a working jail that housed those who had a bit too much to drink and unseemly ne’er-do-wells.

So what do you call the former holding cell that’s now a boutique lodge full of cushy comforts and a gorgeous rooftop deck?

We’ll call it “upscale arraignment.”

“The Cell Block provides an escape from the controlling bars of travelers’ day-to-day work routines and their chains of monotony at home,” says Kaye Callaway, creator and owner of The Cell Block. “Weddings occur here, and other newlywed couples remember spending their first married night in jail.”

It doesn’t quite fit into any traditional mold, so we’ll happily find a place for it on our list because it’s a one-of-a-kind wonder that is calling to travelers the world over to experience a life of luxury behind iron bars.

The Cell Block amenities

The Cell Block is furnished with a lavish queen-size bed, natural gas fire pit, a plush couch, along with an assortment of beautiful decorations, and in true memory of those who slept one off within its walls, two complimentary alcoholic libations to help ease you into your stay at the joint.

“The Cell Block provides guests with a bottle of its exclusive private label Tempranillo wine made by local Red Caboose Winery and a small glass flask of Single Malt Whisky from Waco’s Balcones Distillery,” Callaway shares.

Visitors have access to a rooftop deck (something original jailbirds only wish they had) that is decorated with lights and a bit of shade to hide you from the sun.

There is no television, but there is a record player and a number of vinyl albums (all prison-themed, of course) so you can begin to understand what Johnny Cash was singing about when he went live at Folsom Prison.

“Guests can take several polaroid pictures of themselves in jail and play a game of dominoes while listening to prison vinyl records on our record player. Or, relax in the prison yard on the rooftop deck under a shading sail on a hot day or near the warmth of a gas fire pit on a cool evening.”

While you’re in town, check out the beautiful art scene in Clifton as well as some of the local restaurants and bars (yes, you may leave the room) but you’ll want to be back before the sun comes up to see what those real metal handcuffs are all about. Just don’t lose the key.

Where: 120 Clifton Art Alley, Clifton, TX 76634