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“The Four Seasons of Fredericksburg” should be your Texas Hill Country Hideaway

May 14th, 2011 7 Comments

Today my review of The Fredericksburg Herb Garden ran in The Houston Chronicle.  Below is my review with snapshots.  You’ll see I absolutely love this Texas Hill Country hideaway.  (Southern Living Mag does too!)

Fredericksburg, Texas is a one horse German town that Houstonians escape to for R&R and a little antiquing.

There’s a single main road lined with antique shops, boutiques, and little cafes.  Locals have built houses and churches surrounding this vein that pumps tourists through regularly.  Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

About a month ago, Mom and I visited for a much needed retreat.  One of her best friends Rosemary has been living there for over two decades setting up cute hotels (the famed Hangar Hotel) and restaurants.

(Rosemary and Mom)

The Fredericksburg Herb Garden, her latest venture that I was unaware of, has taken over 4 years to complete and I’ll be honest, it was well worth every bead of sweet, stream of blood, pretty penny, and even a black eye (can you see it in the pic above!).   It’s strikingly different than anything else in the area.

Below is my review that just ran in The Houston Chronicle.

I can’t stand B&B’s and country cottages for one simple reason.  It looks like someone let their grandmother loose with a roll of floral fabric and a Hobby Lobby catalogue inside.

You know what I’m talking about – the pastel quilts, fake flowers, crouched pillows, and potperri pots on anything that will stand still.  On a recent search for a place to stay in Fredericksburg, Texas, these stereotypical B&B’s were all I found.
I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to call longtime friend and owner of The Fredericksburg Herb Farm, Rosemary Estenson before my hunt.  When I did make the call, she informed me they had expanded the property to include 14 cottages, a garden-to-table restaurant, and an all-natural spa.  Admittedly, my first thought was pessimistic; as nice as it sounds, I’m sure it was grandma-chic just like the others.  Of course I went to their website immediately to check it out.  Even though the layout was archaic, I could tell the decor was pleasant and minimal.

After the five hour drive north to Fredericksburg, I found that my low expectations were almost embarrassing. This place was like the Four Seasons of bed and breakfasts!  I soon found out that Southern Living Magazine concurred, naming FHF one of the best Hill Country destinations of 2011.

My little house was beautifully appointed with rocking chairs on the patio, a few antiques mixed with modern pieces, a lovely headboard, a flat screen tv, a shower with a stone reflexology floor, delicious herbal bath products, and free wifi.  Wait, there’s more.

The bed that was made with hand-ironed sheets was undoubtedly more comfortable than the beds at the Four Seasons, Peninsula, and Ritz Carlton.  Getting out of this heavenly cloud might be difficult if I didn’t know that the most delicious homemade cinnamon was waiting for me in my mailbox outside on Saturday morning.

We all know that visiting Fredericksburg is usually more about strolling the town than staying in your hotel.  But in this case, I found myself perfectly content to spend a day tucked in the hideaway.  The herb garden was almost in full bloom and offered the perfect place to curl up with a book in the morning and enjoy a good girls’ conversation over a bottle of wine at sunset.  I spent an hour, no joke, sniffing all of the different herbal soaps, lotions, and perfumes they make on the property and sell in the Poet’s house.  If you’re a Jo Malone and Kai fan like I am, you’ll find this place offers your favorite scents for a fraction of the price.

Of course they use the same products in the spa, which I admit is surprisingly extraordinary as well.  They offer what I would call intuitive services considering what your body needs, not what you’ve historically had in the past.  The Thai massage, which I renamed the”Rescue and Recovery” massage, involved Mateo (the spa director) rubbing insertion points, stretching out my limbs, and walking on my back.  It wasn’t always pleasant, but I absolutely needed it.  The herbal pedicure is unique in that they use warm herbal wraps instead of water to moisten your skin while you sit in one of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever had the pleasure of sinking into.

Last, but certainly not least, is the restaurant.  Rosemary stole chef Asa Thorton from the famed Barton Creek resort.  An amazing acquisition because he’s beyond talented.  The man makes all of the bread (do not pass up that basket), smokes and cures all of the meat, and prepares a variety of flavorful dishes daily.  The menu is notably meat heavy, but he’s accommodating to everyone.  Just let him know your how to accommodate your palate.

Bottom line:  FHF exceeded my expectations and I have no doubt you’ll fall in love with it too.  Venture to this hideaway for the weekend for much needed R&R and indulgence.
Rooms start at $179.  830-997-8615 www.FredericksburgHerbFarm.com

(Originally published in The Houston Chronicle – May 15, 2011)


A few snapshots I loved from the trip.  This little town is quintessentially southern and charming.


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  • RS

    I know grammar and spelling isn’t your strong suit, but it’s a shame the editors of The Houston Chronicle also lack a basic understanding of grammar (or simply aren’t paying attention): “On a recent search for a place to stay in Fredericksburg, Texas, these stereotypical B&B’s WAS all I found.” It should, of course, be “WERE all I found.”

  • Cely

    Ditto. I know you fully admit to your lack of skill in this area, but that’s one more reason to make sure you have an editor review your articles carefully; mistakes make you (and the paper) look bad.


    “and popperi pots” — popperi is not a word, I think you meant potpourri

    “most delicious homemade cinnamon was waiting” — homemade cinnamon? Did you mean cinnamon bread?

    • It’s actually my fault.

      I accidentally posted the unedited version by mistake.

  • M

    Love your review. I went to college in Kerrville,about 15 min from Fredericksburg, and i use to love going there for dinner or just to shop, specially during the holidays. Such a cute little town!


  • CC

    Mary, I enjoyed reading your article about Fredericksburg and share your opinion of B&Bs. However, if your travels ever take you back to Fredericksburg, may I suggest that you check out Barons Creekside. It is not a traditional B&B, but considered a “specialty Lodging” ranking as Nr 1 of 18 in that category in Fredericksburg on tripadvisor,com with a stunning 98 % “excellent” approval rate.

    The quaint resort is a compound of unique Swiss log cabins that were built from a 250 year old Farmhouse in Switzerland as well as other historic lodgings situated in a romantic setting on 26 wooded acres just 2 miles north of Main Street (on Goehmann Lane). All of the Swiss log cabins have a jacuzzi tub, fireplace, king-sized bed and front porch with large comfy rocking chairs just steps away from a man-made mountain creek. The resort is owned and operated by a Swiss businessman, Daniel Meyer, who takes pride in creating a romantic, rustic yet beautiful environment. I was initially a guest in June of 2009, and have spent many wonderful weekends there since. Please check it out: http://www.baronscreekside.com/
    Best regards, CC

  • Felicity

    My camp girl friends and I visited the Herb Farm recently. We hadn’t been there in quite some time…OMG! WE WERE SO DISAPPOINTED…SHOCKED! First of all the lovely star herb garden was plowed under to make room for all those ticky-tacky little particle board buildings! What a loss – it WAS a beautiful cottage garden… years and years in the making! I just can’t imagine how that garden was in full bloom when you were there… since it’s GONE$ We had lunch at the restaurant… the food was just okay – the soup was cold, the sandwich croissant was soggy… the service was HORRIBLE! We had to get up from our table and track down our waitress to order wine, to order food, to get another beer, to pay our bill, and while we were searching for her another guest asked us “how do you pay around here? – She had her check in hand… no waitress to be found! I just can’t imagine that we were at the same place that you are reviewing in this article$$$$$

    • Felicity,

      I’m so sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. I didn’t see the property before, but I really love the way it is now.

      As for the service in the restaurant, I’ll agree it was slow, but the food was delicious in my opinion.

      The massage was amazing too!

      In comparison to the other places in the area, it’s absolutely the best. As for other luxury accommodations in the hill country, marfa, or even Dos Brisas, the rate is hundreds if dollars less a night.

      I will pass along your feedback to rosemary. But I know she would greatly appreciate hearing it from you. She’s meticulous with details.