The gravel crunched under my feet as I slipped through the garden gate, Aperol spritz in hand, to discover an Italian wonderland where the bocce ball rounds are lingering, the poolside lawn chairs are plush and the herbs on your dinner plate are freshly plucked from on-site garden boxes.
To visit Fort Worth’s Hotel Otto, a new micro-resort featuring shipping container bungalows from acclaimed Chef Tim Love, is to be reminded that sometimes, it’s OK for life to be about indulging in simple pleasures.
Hotel Otto’s grounds include eight bungalows gorgeously and creatively constructed from shipping containers that feature amenities such as Hermes bath products, queen-size beds with bamboo sheets, robes and sleep masks and Illy coffee products. The space inside the bungalows, which are each only 160 square feet, is ideally used, reinforcing the idea that sometimes less really is more.
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Each stay also comes with a complimentary welcome cocktail in the form of an Aperol spritz kit that includes prosecco, Aperol and soda water bottles as well as a recipe card. Mix up your cocktail, then climb your private spiral staircase and settle into an Adirondack chair to enjoy the sunset on your rooftop deck. Rooftop decks also come complete with smokeless bonfire kits, shade umbrellas and Yeti coolers.
Hotel guests may utilize a garden gate that provides direct access to the lush grounds, where it’s easy to tuck into a space that feels all your own. I couldn’t resist spending part of my afternoon in the property’s sparkling heated pool, which also happens to be a shipping container. Games of bocce, strolls through the on-site garden and selfies by the large neon LOVE sign are also popular.
Tim Love has created a restaurant empire not only in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but also now across Texas that includes restaurants and bars such as White Elephant Saloon, located in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards; Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, which includes locations in Fort Worth, Austin and Knoxville, Tennessee; and his Love Shack burger joint, where the burgers have repeatedly been named among the best in the country.
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Given Love’s resume, it’s no surprise that Hotel Otto would be anchored by a restaurant, too, in the form of Gemelle, a neighborhood pizza and pasta joint that opened a couple years ago. Gemelle means twins in Italian and is named in tribute to Love’s twin daughters.
During my late October stay, I chatted with Love, who was dining on the patio with his family, about the inspiration for the hotel, something that had always been on his sightlines. He said a visit to the Amalfi Coast was the inspiration behind Hotel Otto’s theme and that it was strategically designed as a micro-resort to accommodate the space surrounding the restaurant.
The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner daily with menu offerings spanning steak and eggs, hand-battered mozzarella and fresh eggplant sticks, whole roasted branzino with lemon and herbs and daily specials such as lasagna, chile-rubbed lamb chops and seared pork osso buco. My dinner order of fettucine featured a nest of al dente pasta ribbons dredged in decadent pork ragu and was among the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had, and my breakfast of eggs benedict on supple house made focaccia was a delicious way to start the next day.
A stay at Hotel Otto also gets diners priority reservations at all of Love’s Fort Worth restaurants, and all meals can be charged to your room.
By the river
Hotel Otto is located on the Trinity River, which means that a variety of activities are literally at your doorstep during your stay. One favorite is a two-hour guided kayaking tour that includes champagne, a charcuterie board and transportation back to the hotel. The hotel also has e-bikes with Bluetooth helmets that guests can use to explore the Trinity trail system on their own.
During my stay, I opted for a horseback ride arranged with the hotel’s partner, Stockyard Stables. As I clipped and clopped through the Stockyards and along the Trinity River on a horse named French Fry with my guide, I couldn’t help but think about all of the iconic figures whose footsteps I was following.
Fort Worth will always be true to its Western roots, but thanks to places like Hotel Otto, it also has room for those modern, simple pleasures, too.