The new place you have to stay in the Hill Country, and ideas for things to do

When my husband and I started planning a one-night getaway to celebrate our 10-year anniversary in October, Fredericksburg was the natural choice.

A morning hike at Enchanted Rock followed by an afternoon of wine tasting and an evening strolling Main Street and two-stepping at Hondo’s is my idea of a perfect day.

The only problem for two people who are not exactly fans of traditional bed and breakfasts or anonymous hotel chains? Finding a great place to stay.

Cue Starry’s Studio, a new guest house two blocks off of Fredericksburg’s Main Street that combines unique, modern design with Hill Country touches.

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Starry’s Studio in Fredericksburg features work from Hill Country artists. credit: Chuck Wehner

“We want them to feel comfortable — they’re in Fredericksburg,” said Sarah Starry, who grew up in Fredericksburg and runs Starry’s Studio with her mom, Melissa Starry, and other family members. “We try to surround them with Fredericksburg things, but at the same time (make them think) ‘I can’t believe I’m in Fredericksburg.’”

The family has a long history in the Hill Country town. In 1951, Melissa Starry’s father, Walter Hayden, built what is now Starry’s Studio as a workshop and smokehouse behind the family home, which was built in 1906. Here, he smoked meats from his family’s ranch, tanned leather, made furniture and crafted homemade wines from mustang grapes, agarita berries and local peaches. Melissa Starry took over the property in 1989 with her husband, Ron Starry, living in the main home with daughter Sarah and turning the workshop first into a hair salon (the client roster included Lady Bird Johnson) and later an art studio.

In 2015, the family decided the studio’s next incarnation would be the guest house. It opened for overnight stays in September.

Inside you’ll find a 900-square-foot apartment-style suite decorated with pieces from local artists that range from a twisting deer antler chandelier by Del Benedict of Hill Country Antler Art to a striking mixed media piece that incorporates the words “All passes — art alone endures” by Melissa Starry. Like a piece? You can buy it.

The studio also features a private outdoor shower, a wide back deck overlooking Barons Creek, high-thread-count linens and a private gated entrance.

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The back deck at Starry’s Studio in Fredericksburg. credit: Chuck Wehner

Sarah Starry said the studio’s design was inspired in part by hotelier Liz Lambert’s properties in Austin.

“It’s easy to get lost in Austin because there’s so many great places, but her places still shine and always will. She took something old and made it fabulous and different from the things that were around it,” Sarah Starry said. “Really we’re just trying to help, if we can, move along this idea that we can mix luxury and travel in Fredericksburg.”

Treats from area businesses such as Segner’s Pecans, Chocolat and local wineries also contribute to the modern-yet-homespun vibe.

They’re touches that seem to make an impression on guests. The on-site guest book is brimming with glowing reviews, and the property currently enjoys five stars on Airbnb. After spending an evening there, I can’t help but agree. We couldn’t have had a better visit.

“It’s really cool to just see it and walk in and say, ‘This is exactly what I pictured,'” Sarah Starry said. “The positive feedback is just a cherry on top.”

Starry’s Studio is located at 205 E. Creek Street in Fredericksburg. Rates are $249 weekdays, $299 weekends. Capacity is two people. Learn more or make a reservation at starrysstudio.com/#thestudio.

Oh, and if you go, here are four things you should make sure to do while you’re in town:

1. Hike Enchanted. There’s nothing better than a hike up the massive granite dome that is Enchanted Rock, and if you stay in Fredericksburg, it’s just a 15-minute drive away. Arrive early (the park opens at 8 a.m.) and you can have it practically to yourself for a few hours. tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/enchanted-rock

2. Brunch bunch. Yes, there might be a line at the Old German Bakery and Restaurant. Yes, it’s worth the wait. This Fredericksburg favorite is home to a number of standout dishes including German pancakes, Opa’s sausage and eggs and country fried steak. Don’t have time to stay? Grab coffee and a pastry at the counter. oldgermanbakeryandrestaurant.com

3. Wine time. There’s a reason Fredericksburg has become one of the best-known wine regions in the country, and with more than 45 wineries and vineyards in the area, you’ve got plenty to choose from. We enjoyed 4.0 Cellars, Baron’s Creek and Kuhlman Cellars during our trip, but you can find a complete list at visitfredericksburgtx.com/attractions-categories/wineries.

4. Go to Luckenbach, Texas. Located 10 miles from Fredericksburg, Luckenbach is a must-do for any Hill Country traveler. Take a spin around the dancehall, enjoy a beer at an outside picnic table or grab a bite at the Feed Lot. Here, everybody’s somebody. luckenbachtexas.com


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