A rustic respite close to Austin

Sage Hill Inn offers ideal weekend getaway.


Sage Hill Inn offers sweet getaway from relentless Central Texas spring festival season.

Savoring a bite of perfectly medium-rare duck with huckleberry gastrique, I looked around the Sage Hill Inn dining room at hand-holding couples who seemed to feel at home.

“A lot of them have been here before,” the waiter confided. So why wasn’t I aware of this treasure of an inn just half an hour from my Austin home?

“They want to keep it to themselves,” the waiter said. “They don’t talk about it.”

Well, allow me to talk about it, because it’s a really sweet getaway for a couple seeking a few days’ escape from the wonderful but relentless Central Texas spring festival season.

Kyle doesn’t spring to mind when you think about a romantic respite, but this rustic yet well designed and comfortable inn fits the bill on the very cusp of the Hill Country. The land is just starting to undulate west of Interstate 35, and the 88-acre property’s driveway off FM 150 (get off I-35 at exit 215) winds beneath live oaks, past prickly pears and clutch after clutch of thriving century plants, many of their stalks shooting skyward. The bluebonnets should be out soon, too.

Built in 1994, the inn offers 16 accommodations, one a three-bedroom house but most guest rooms and suites, either in two graceful stone main buildings or in nearby cabins. I wouldn’t quite call it a full-out luxury situation, but it’s definitely high-end, with first-rate beds and bedding and furnishings and lovely bathrooms. Mine, the Kyle room, included (as many do) a fireplace and large, inviting soaking tub. Fresh flowers stood on the coffee table, and water and even mosquito repellent were provided.

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Spring rates start at $299 a night and include an excellent three-course dinner (more on that in a moment) and hearty breakfast, along with free Wi-Fi. A recent renovation added a new pool deck, a 14-person hot tub and a lovely four-room spa cottage near a butterfly garden that sets the tone for relaxation. If you don’t see the butterflies right away, shake a bush.

Sage Hill offers good hiking terrain, and my main quandary was whether to take a hike before or after my massage. I chose after, heading down to Onion Creek, past the new pool, just in time for sunset over the hills to the west. Five trails wind through the grounds, from .16 to 2.5 miles, some with gentle elevation, but nothing difficult. I passed some inviting hammocks and a fire pit along my stroll, too.

Then it was time for dinner. I bought a glass of crisp rosé to enjoy with the food, which, as I mentioned, is part of the room rate. I was knocked out by my choice, a tender duck breast swathed in huckleberry gastrique with a side of creamy mushroom risotto. I truly was too satisfied to take on dessert, so the waiter suggested I carry a crème brulee back to my room to enjoy later. That worked.

I gazed at the stars a bit, then settled into my cloudlike bed for a good night’s rest in a cocoon of silence, something in short supply in my Central Austin neighborhood.

Speaking of silence, I didn’t see any children during my visit, and I wouldn’t consider this for a family weekend. In fact, only children 16 and older are allowed here (unless you book the entire property for a family reunion, wedding or similar), and I’m not sure it’s perfect for teens, either. It’s a quiet, grown-up place.

Coffee was set out early the next morning in the library, and I enjoyed a cup before walking across the breezeway to the dining room. Breakfast changes every day. I enjoyed a lovely vegetable and cheese quiche, along with yogurt and locally picked berries. Thus fortified, I was on my merry way home.

I peg this as a perfect weekend getaway, with enough menu variety that I chose to stay on property and relax. But if you’re of a mind to wander, Salt Lick (the original) is just about a 15-minute drive away, and a few wineries are close by, as is the town of Wimberley for shopping.

In fact, I chose to drive back to Austin in the slightly longer direction through Driftwood, backing into the city along roads that (except for the dreaded Ben White Y curve) are far less annoying than I-35. I wanted to hang onto the restful mindset as long as possible.

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