What can I possibly say about the Blanco County Inn, except that they do the urban the Austin/San Antonio escapist, "Bed and Breakfast" crowd very well. Considering their location, how could anyone possibly fault them for that? It's a predictable, profitable and dependable market upon which they obviously depend... to the exclusion of almost anyone else.
Who am I to throw stones at skillful and insightful entrepreneurs? However, if anyone were to try to delude themselves into believing Blanco, Texas was "out in the hill country" they would be sorely amiss. Blanco is now an "up and coming" ubiquitous suburb of the merging metro Austin/San Antonio urban sprawl developing along IH 35 and US 281. Yet, the Blanco County Inn does what they do... VERY well, if a bit on the pricey side. At least for us serious road hounds like me. The overall impression I got, was they were doing a very good job of impressing a very targeted market segment... into which I do not easily fit.
This is a lovely property. This is an older (I'd say 50's, early 60's) motor-court that has been recently and lovingly refurbished at a standard approaching excellent. (VERY, good, skillful and thoughtful work, guys!) It is very "French Country" and "Nuevo Southwestern." (Because I was with a group, I saw more than one room.) I will say that the outdoor areas are very nice and the absolute jewel of the property. I wonder whether there is an abandoned pool under that monstrous deck? The outdoor areas are marvelous for various groups, wedding and reunions. However, be advised the non-stop commercial traffic along US 281 is close at hand and at times... over powering. This is not Camp Wood... or better yet, Sanderson... or even Orla. This is downtown Blanco, TX... right along US281... urban daytime noise is a fact of life here, plan accordingly.
The rooms were expertly restored and well appointed for their targeted market. They had color coordinated interiors and furnishings that would make Martha Stewart weep. They had crisp, fluffy towels washed and dried without fabric softeners. They had Hersey chocolates, muffins and toiletries. They had 'branded' milled soaps, shampoos and body lotions. (That seems to be a frequently occurring amenity these days. Lotion? What the heck am I supposed to do with body lotion? This sparks my imagination engines into churning... "What sort of person uses such body lotion... and for what?" Personally, I'd be more interested in branded complementary sunscreens.)
My room, at the top of two flights of steps, was the top dog 'apartment flat' on site. It was very neatly done... very cool! Absolutely lovely! There is a cool outdoor deck with adequate high dollar outdoor furniture and umbrellas and a scenic view of the rooftop of the office and a storage shed... along with the noise and traffic along 281. There is a charcoal fired BBQ, an outdoor trash can and outdoor motion sensor activated lights which I found overtly troublesome.
In the evenings, they triggered automatically every single time I stepped out the door for whatever reason. Sometimes, considering the urban sprawl... it is just nice to step out and sit quietly. To look wistfully at what we have left of the night sky. I like being able to see the sky at night... but I also understand litigation driven, building code requirements to light the stairway. Low voltage, downward cast, motion activated lighting on the stairs would have been far better than having the blazing fury of a youthful blue-white sun ignite every single time I stepped out of the doorway. I felt like I was Richard Dryfuss in that danged movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind!"
Boop, Bee, Boop, Boop, Booooooooohhhhh...
My 'apartment' had a partial kitchen which was very cool and decorated in a style I describe as "Ikea Cosmopolitan." Another member of our crew also had a kitchen. But in my case, mine wasn't a full kitchen. I will pause to note here I found it rather odd there were pots and pans provided in the RTA (Ready To Assemble) cabinets... supposedly for cooking... in a supposed "kitchen" that did not have any sort of access to a cook top what so ever.
Hmmm... what does this mean? Pots and pans in the cabinets... but no cooktop?
But, if you want to toast a complimentary Otis Spunkmeyer muffin to crispy perfection, this place is your huckleberry! It boasts a super, duper, deluxe (did I say, super) toaster oven, that I did not use... even once. There is a full sized regular kitchen coffee maker and the staff is gratuitously liberal with the Folger's packets, making it easy to have a cup or two in house and still fill the 'to go' mug when heading out to ride what is left of our sadly dwindling Texas hill country.
There is a full fridge and an absolutely MARVELOUS breakfast bar with seating for two that provided a scenic view of a completely blank wall... and the only 'real' place to plug in a laptop or a cell phone charger. From there, you cannot see any of the THREE (count 'em... THREE) in suite TV's from! (What's with that?)
Hey owners; because that totally blank kitchen wall is right there in your customer's danged face... daily... get some cool art to hang on that wall. OR, better yet... a bulletin board where you can post images of successful events you have hosted. And maybe coupons and flyers for local businesses and events... concerts... snail walks.. whatever! And add some USB charging stations for devices. Just sayin... for the price! Kindly advice from the much poorer fool... that just stayed there for two nights.
I would say that the only real 'un-over-come-able' flaw of my room was that there was no convenient place to sit, set up and work. If you want to lounge and watch sports on TV, or beauty pageants, or car auctions... if you are looking for a secluded 'love shack," this is your place. But if you are like me... a lowly working stiff on weekend "get-away," having a place to plug in a laptop and handle some late breaking work related pookie... within sight of the main TV... is critical. But then again... I have already disqualified myself from intended target market of the Blanco County Inn.
But they have cool TV's! They have monstrous flats screens in every single room! There were three in my suite alone. One 52 inch and two 32 inch screens in each bedroom. (Did I mention... none of these were visible from the breakfast area which had the ONLY "sit-at" work area and the ONLY really readily accessible wall outlets.) ALL these TV's had inputs, which are really a plus with me. My room had a full digital receiver and a DVD player in place. (I watched the first two disks from season one of Battle Star Galatica. I really liked the "in-situ" disk players, kudos!)
They have adequate WiFi... at times. It drags a bit when all the other guests are sucking up their daily portion of mindless televised sports, pre-packaged programming and NetFlix streaming. For those of us that just want mail, weather... or maybe to upload a bit of data to the G-drive... it is somewhat tedious dealing with the bandwidth draw of the overtly feeding digital masses. Mornings are always better in that respect.
The WiFi is all inclusive and "light and fluffy" in the early AM. They do not charge for multiple devices... I consider this a plus!
If you are a 'love sick' couple on get away... or if you are traveling with small (and very well behaved) children... if you are a weekend urbanite fleeing Houston, Austin, San Antonio or DFW for some temporary, marginal sanity... if you just want to escape the rat race for a weekend...the Blanco County Inn is your blessed sanctuary. A groovy place to stay.
BUT... if you are hard-core, road troll like me; who thinks the Jalepeno corn dogs at a Stripes gas station are literally manna from heaven... and the sound of diesel reefer rigs idling in a truck stop are literally the singing of angels...
Keep heading west till you are at least past Segovia...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We let our customers decide whether they want to do nothing, or savor all the things Blanco & the Texas Hill Country have to offer. With that said we are an 80 year old motel, with rooms that have been remodeled over the last few years. All this to give our customers, and future friends, a charming "Hill Country" Experience! Being (we believe the motel was built in1932) we are 80 years old; we are the oldest lodging in Blanco County. Also, we are one of the oldest lodging establishments in the hill country. It was founded by Mary Lester as the Lester Courts when the State & Federal government was developing our state park system and when Route Number 66 was developed. No, not US Route 66, we think it was a state highway before it became US 281. So along with the road and the park here Mrs. Lester built the Lester courts. Wanting to slow down the frenzied pace of corporate life, my wife and I jumped at the chance to live in the hill country, and run a quaint little inn. As our retirement project we have had fun restoring the motel to a quaint "Boutique Motel" and meet people and new friends from all over the world. Ask us about some fresh eggs or soon our "Blanco County Honey!" ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Blanco County Inn Texas