Round Top, United States

Rancho Pillow


A world of its own


Meadows and markets

Rancho Pillow has to be seen to be believed – a carnival of colour and madcap creativity in the wildflower meadows of rural Texas. Pick from five idiosyncratic houses: the triple-height 18th-century barn is the recording artist’s favourite, with hemlock timbers, Mexican wicker chairs, and a bathroom dedicated to Frida Kahlo; across the lawn there’s a sheetrocked teepee, a Texan farmhouse, a chapel-esque tower house and the free-spirited ‘Love Shack’. Elsewhere on the 20-acre grounds you’ll find a pool, firepit and open-air bath house (oh, and a mechanical bull salvaged from a rodeo); the antiques hub of Round Top is just down the road and Austin's a gallop away from that.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A bottle of champagne


Photos Rancho Pillow facilities

Need to know


Five houses.


1pm, check-in 3pm, but flexible, subject to availability and a $100 per hour charge.


Rancho Pillow is built for big groups – you can hire the estate exclusively, or sign up for events and workshops including guest-chef dinners, spiritual retreats, live music concerts, and a mini flea market.

At the hotel

Free WiFi, games suite including cornhole, badminton and croquet available on request ($250 fee applies). In rooms: air-conditioning, minibar, kitchenette with kettle, coffee machine and microwave; there’s music streaming and full kitchen facilities in the Red House and the Barn.

Our favourite rooms

Each of the five houses is special in its own way, but the Barn is the ultimate show-stopper, its timber frame filled with unique antiques and bespoke design. The Teepee is the cosiest cocoon, with murals depicting the Four Elements hand-painted on the sheetrock walls.


The round, saltwater pool is inspired by an old water well that cowboys used to bathe in – the new 4ft version is heated, though.

Packing tips

Bring half as much stuff as you think you’ll need, and twice as much money – you never know what you’ll fall for at the antiques stalls…


Rancho Pillow isn’t suitable for wheelchair users. Please note: all guests must sign a liability waiver that applies to any and all activities participated in at Rancho Pillow.


All ages welcome.

Food and Drink

Photos Rancho Pillow food and drink

Top Table

In the balmy Texan climate, you can eat alfresco on the terraces almost all year round.

Dress Code

Float around in a caftan, and/or slip on a Rancho-branded cap.

Hotel restaurant

There’s no restaurant, but time your visit with one of Rancho’s ‘Feasts in the Field’ and you can join 200 or so other diners for a special menu created by a guest chef. Other than that, it’s up to you to bring your own supplies (or have the concierge services rustle up provisions for you) and cook them up in the kitchens. Too hands-on? Hire a private chef to prep your meals for you instead.


Photos Rancho Pillow location
Rancho Pillow
11222 Schuster Rd
Round Top
United States

You’ll find Rancho Pillow tucked away on a country lane outside the tiny town of Round Top, between Austin and Houston in rural Texas.


Austin-Bergstrom airport is 65 miles west of the hotel; the drive takes around an hour (a transfer is $250). Houston’s airport is 115 miles in the other direction (you can drive it in about two hours). Both airports have flights from dozens of US cities; from London, you can fly direct to Austin with Norwegian and British Airways.


If you plan on going anywhere at all in Texas, a car is all but essential. Hire from the airport, then hit the open road. You’ll park for free outside your house at Rancho Pillow.

Worth getting out of bed for

Scout out the 20-acre grounds with an amble through the wildflower meadows, around natural ponds and out towards the woods (it’s so wildly rural that you’ll need to sign a waiver on arrival, in case you get silly and lick poisonous plants or the like). Back at the Rancho, have a soak in the open-air bathhouse tubs, paddle in the pool, then get comfy around the fire pit and wait for the stars to come out. There's also a hearty helping of outdoor games, including frisbee golf, corn hole, croquet and badminton.

Round Top is an antiques hub even when the fair isn’t in town – rummage for one-of-a-kind finds at roadside stores such as the Junk Gypsy Company (1215 Texas 237). Browse for cowboy boots at Townsend Provisions (101 Bauer Rummel), Harley-ready leathers at Bad Hombres (303 South White Street), and handcrafted jewelry at Lark (301 South White St). Then taste Texan tipples – Saddlehorn Winery (958 FM 1948, Burton) is a 390-acre ranch crafting blanc du bois and black Spanish wines, while over at Rohan Meadery (2 FM 2981, La Grange) they make farmhouse cider as well as the headline honey-sweet mead. 

The nearby town of Round Top has just 90 full-time residents, but it comes alive each April and October for The Original Round Top Antiques Fair, when a tent village of traders sprouts up and more than 150,000 visitors come to browse the vintage stock. And with your trusy steed, erm, hire car, Austin's just a gallop away…


Local restaurants

Get acquainted with the Royer family: Royers Round Top Cafe (105 Main Street) does steaks, birds and no-nonsense comfort food, while Royers Pie Haven (190 Henckel Circle) specialises in fruit-filled pastries topped with local Bluebell ice cream. The Garden Co Marketplace & Café (Rummel Square) is famed for farm-to-table fare – go for the brussels sprouts with candied walnuts and capers, gourmet grilled cheese (gruyere, cheddar and blue cheese on sourdough), or the garden salad with fresh field greens. When you’re in the mood for Mexican, you’re in the mood for Mandito’s (102 South Washington).


Photos Rancho Pillow reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this one-of-a-kind hotel in Texas and unpacked their antiques and artworks, a full account of their Lonestar State break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Rancho Pillow in Texas…

It takes someone like Sheila Youngblood to dream up a place like Rancho Pillow. The Texas native (nicknamed La Reina, ‘The Queen’) is eccentric and authentic in equal measure, with an inimitable personal style – you might see her drifting around her 20-acre estate barefoot, in layered caftans, thick-rimmed glasses and an embroidered top hat. Rancho Pillow is just a further extrapolation of her design philosophy: ‘everything belongs’. Here, a disco-ball cowboy saddle hangs from a 200-year-old hemlock beam, an oyster-shell chandelier illuminates a stone-walled teepee, and gold-dipped feathers float above the dance floor. If it sounds kind of crackers, it’s because it is. But that’s exactly how Sheila likes it. And somehow, it all just works.