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The Wayback and Ruby Hotel Are Close to Austin But So Far Away

The Ruby Hotel

Like any expanding city, Austin offers residents a world of metropolitan delights, from renowned arts and music to luxe shopping to exquisite restaurants and cocktail culture. But something that sets this city apart is how easily one can escape the urbanity and retreat, in a matter of minutes, into the tranquility of bucolic Central Texas. Between far-flung adventures or instead of taking on the task of planning extended travel, why not slip away for a night or two to experience serenity, beauty and down-home luxury in Austin’s backyard?

The Wayback

Photographs by Carly Summers

Ten miles west of downtown, off Bee Caves Road, a collection of farmhouse-style cottages is nestled among the wildflowers and live oaks of the Texas Hill Country. Opened in December 2018 by mother-daughter team Vicki Bly and Sydney Sue, The Wayback is a boutique country retreat inspired by chic destinations like San Ysidro Ranch in California, Los Poblanos in New Mexico and the Hob Knob in Martha’s Vineyard.

Outside, along its 3-acre grounds, guests can enjoy the views and breeze, play lawn games or take a dip in the saltwater pool and sip a cocktail from the cabana bar. As day turns to night, there’s no better way to enjoy a sunset than by one of the fire pits that will keep you warm even as the stars come out in the big Texas sky.

The whitewashed cottages are chic and cozy with eco-friendly furniture, beds made with natural linens and plenty of gorgeous views. “When someone goes into the private cottages, or the back porch, they’re always looking into nature,” Sue says. “Each cottage has a lot of natural light.”

The Wayback Cafe, which is open to the public, has a hearty farm-to-table menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On weekends, brunch is served, including buttermilk fried chicken and waffles topped with Good Flow honey.

The Ruby Hotel

Photographs by Casey Dunn, Chris Gray and Jenna Kahn

North of Austin, along Brushy Creek, The Ruby Hotel is a fantasy of color, retro vibes and comfort, near Veterans Park and just blocks from downtown Round Rock.

A shred of a love letter addressed to “Dearest Ruby” and pages of a scrapbook from the 1920s and ’30s — all found on the property — inspired the concept of the hotel, which is now perched cliffside among 100-year-old live oak trees. Ruby, in the imagination of developers, grew up in small-town Round Rock of the 1930s. After adventuring around the world, expanding her mind and honing her tastes, Ruby returned to the site where she lived and entertained, stylishly, holding outdoor parties rich with color and music.

The Ruby, which opened in March 2019, has 39 rooms that are saturated in deep blues or bold greens. Accented with midcentury-modern furniture, each has a private balcony that overlooks the creek. Guests may walk the Brushy’s banks or paddle board, canoe or kayak its waters. Or, if preferred, sit poolside in the shade and enjoy drinks at the Ruby Bar, once a 1960s-era home that still has a fireplace in a cozy living room-style lounge and a menu of vintage-inspired bites.

“We wanted to honor the architecture of the house,” developer Bree Carrico says of the bar. “There are very simple, clean lines, disturbing the natural setting as little as possible.”