When I think about going off the grid and unplugging from my day-to-day, I think about camping. I envision being amongst the wilderness, setting up a sleeping bag under the stars—not the colorful campgrounds of El Cosmico.
Way out in West Texas, there’s a ranching town-meets-art mecca known as Marfa. Its genuine mystique is one reason that draws tourists out (think: cowboys side by side with galleries), combined with the area’s serene desert surroundings, candy-colored skies and complete detachment from the outside world. El Cosmico sits right on the town’s edge as the region’s most unique accommodation option, swapping hotel rooms for safari tents, Sioux-style tepees, yurts and vintage airstreams that allow you to tap into your inner nomad.
The 21-acre “community lodging concept” was thought up by Liz Lambert, a Texan hotelier who’s portfolio includes Austin’s Hotel San José and Hotel Saint Cecilia. The idea behind El Cosmico was to create a retreat from today’s modern world, where people could also come to celebrate art and architecture in a creative space.
Although dubbed glamping by some, El Cosmico operates on a “get your hands dirty” philosophy that practices simplicity and harks back to the rancher-esq, “living off the land” kind of lifestyle. In other words, don’t let its eclectic (and highly coveted) furnishings and decor fool you.
The smallest, simplest lodging options start with El Cosmico’s tepees which are 22 feet in diameter and come with brick flooring, a queen bed with heated mattress pad (for colder months), a love seat and small daybed. There is electricity, for those wondering, including lighting and outlets—but no WiFi, that’s only available in the lobby.
The yurts measure up to the same size, however they come with wood flooring (not what you’d expect, huh?), a queen bed, writing desk and sofa. There’s also heating and A/C systems available if needed. The safari tents are a bit larger, 120 square feet in total, and also come with wood floors and a queen bed.
The ready-made trailers might be more your speed if you’re looking for a hotel room kind of vibe, albeit, still in the middle of the desert. Each of the restored and renovated vintage trailers is cuter and more colorful than the next. For a comfortable and more “liveable” style of retreat, the trailers come with relatively standard cooking, dining, sleeping, bathing and recreational amenities, alongside AC and heating systems, refrigeration, basic cooking supplies and a radio. They’ve really got all the essentials covered down to sweet and spicy snacks from nearby vendors to robes and locally-made shampoo and conditioner.
On the off chance you’re looking for a bit of quiet, or just a truly unforgettable outdoor lodging experience, El Cosmico is one of the most unique accommodations I’ve seen in a long time. And if you’re just passing through, make sure to check out any of the cool happenings they host throughout the year, from writing workshops and art classes to concerts and cultural events.
Photos by Nick Simonite, courtesy of El Cosmico