Add this to the growing list of like-no-other glamping destinations in Central Texas: Onera.
A night at the collection of luxury cabins, tents and repurposed shipping containers along Barons Creek on the edge of Fredericksburg feels a little like a visit to Hobbiton, the fictional village in the movie version of “Lord of the Rings.” ￼
With whimsically-shaped structures, twinkling lights, private fire pits and an almost magical ambiance, it certainly doesn’t look like the Holiday Inn down the street.￼
My husband and I arrived on a cool spring afternoon. The property, which co-founder Ben Wolff describes as a “landscape hotel,” is made up of eight units, all tucked among the trees. There’s a community space called the Oak Grove where visitors can take a dip in a shipping container that’s been transformed into a swimming pool or kick back on a swinging chair, but most guests come here for privacy ––– and the dreamlike atmosphere.￼
Unique lodging options at Onera
We found our way to the Spyglass unit, which resembles an oversized wood-slat barrel on stilts. After climbing the front steps, we swung open the front door to find a cozy room with a curved ceiling and a pair of groovy olive green chairs. The tree-level bungalow has its own kitchenette, complete with a mini-fridge, plus a full-sized, well-appointed bathroom and an outdoor grill. Steam rose from a cedar hot tub on the back porch. ￼
We cracked into a bottle of bubbly left by our host, poured a couple of glasses, then went for a stroll to ogle all the other oddly-shaped cabins.￼
First stop? The Monarch, a funky-looking, two-lobed structure next door that looks like a butterfly poised for flight. On the other side, we found a converted shipping container with a roof patio perfect for stargazing. Most unusual was the Cocoon, which reminded me of a gigantic swirl of whipped cream turned on its side and transformed into a lodge. An Airstream trailer and a few safari-style tents rounded out the collection. And there’s even a charging station for electric cars.￼
We headed back to the Spyglass, where we set up our backgammon game on a table in front of the firepit and played a few rounds. My husband grilled sausage for dinner, and we sat around the fire until the sun disappeared. That’s when we noticed the ribbons of lights wrapping our barrel-shaped home for the night. We couldn’t resist the hot tub, and sank happily into the warm water. (I liked it so much that I took another soak the next morning, with my morning tea. A group of exotic deer ambled by as I relaxed.)￼
Wolff says staying in a traditional hotel just can’t stack up to a night in one of these unique units, and he’s right. He’s targeting clients who want to reconnect with each other over a romantic weekend. ￼
Artistree, the company behind Cypress Valley, a collection of elaborate rental treehouses in Spicewood ￼near Austin, designed two of the structures at Onera, and helped realize the concept of the entire property.
A night at Onera is a splurge
But a night in Onera’s dreamland is expensive. It costs between $600 and $1,000 a night to stay here, with a two-night minimum. That’s enough to purchase a pair of round-trip airline tickets to Cozumel. (Occasionally you can nab a mid-week “orphan” night at Onera for closer to $300, Wolff points out, but even that puts it on par with a night at Omni Resorts Barton Creek.)￼
The pricetag hasn’t seemed to dissuade guests so far. Even during our mid-week stay, most units were occupied.
And already, Wolf has plans to expand. He has purchased more land next door to Onera, along with another parcel at an undisclosed location in the Hill Country, where he plans to build a new landscape hotel later this year.￼
I can’t wait to see what the structures look like.
If You Go
Fredericksburg is about 70 miles from Austin, and it takes about an hour and 45 minutes to get there.
Eat & Drink:
Bring a steak to cook up on the grill provided at each unit. Or make the 5-minute trip into Fredericksburg, where you’ll find an array of restaurants.
If you’re in to bicycling, bring your wheels. Fredericksburg offers access to plenty of great biking roads, and it’s not far from the Willow City Loop, a popular route for spring wildflower viewing.