Located in Round Top, Texas (population 90) is one of the most charming inns in the Lone Star State. It may not have a five-star restaurant, but it is minutes away from delicious local eats. It may not have a spa, but it has a sumptuous Jacuzzi tub that might just dissolve all of your stress and fill your soul with happy bubbles (bath bomb certainly encouraged).
The kind of luxury you will find at the Wander Inn is hard to express in words because it is more about a feeling than tangible amenities. “Not all who wander are lost,” is a saying that adorns various surfaces throughout the property and is the quintessence of the spirit that resides there.
Although the inn itself just opened last spring, the sisters behind it, Amie and Jolie Sikes, as well as their mother, Janie, have already established a well-known brand, Junk Gypsy. Their retail store, which sits on the front of the property, has been a destination for years; it is a beacon to all wanderers and whimsical gypsy lovers.
“First of all, it feels good,” Amie said. “There’s something about the land that we’re sitting on that feels right. New luxury, to me, is about experience and adventure – staying in a really cool place. It feels like a vacation here, even to me.”
“Magical is a word we hear a lot,” Jolie said. “There’s an energy, a magic, here in Round Top, and you feel it when you’re here to visit.”
THE WANDER INN
When guests first arrive, they can check-in at the store or arrange to have a key left for them at the inn. Actually, the inn consists of two buildings, Star House and Crown House.
Star House is ideal for a family or friend group. It features four different rooms and has a communal area, where you can play games, enjoy a good book (they have several to choose from, including their own), or relax while spinning some vintage records. Yes, they provide those, too.
The Wanderlust room, which features a queen-sized bed, seems to be a favorite, although it is definitely not an easy choice. It also has a vintage leather loveseat, decorative gold wings (a signature icon of the sisters), cedar floors, a gas fireplace, its own record player, a ranch-style corrugated metal shower with a rainfall showerhead, and the aforementioned bathtub. However enticing, you will not want to stay in your room for long, because it is the property itself that holds the magic, as Jolie pointed out. Step outside this room’s French doors to find a set of rocking chairs on the porch that face a vast field of green, the perfect place to watch the sunrise and ponder the mysteries of life.
To your left, the property abuts yet another field, but this one is filled with majestic longhorns, typically grazing and providing a wonderful photo opportunity. Jolie described it as “a pretty amazing Zen moment.”
The Crown House has a smaller, more intimate common room and four equally fascinating rooms, all eclectic yet decorated in the distinctive gypsy style of the sisters, an amalgam of so many different styles, from Southwestern to French. Some might call it “country chic.” The showpieces they have procured to decorate the inn come from places far and wide yet possess one thing in common: they spark the imagination of this family and hopefully yours as well.
At night, guests might grab some brews or a bottle of wine and sit around the fire pit swapping stories and attempting to count the zillions of stars in the sky, which can be seen more brightly in this part of the state. This is just one of the many benefits of this funky country getaway.
Although you may wish to hit up some local eateries for breakfast in the morning, your waking hour will be met by a silver pail filled with freshly-baked biscuits, butter, and jam, which go nicely with a Keurig-made cup of coffee. These can be enjoyed on one of the porches, balconies, or nearby picnic tables. It is safe to say, at this point, nobody is ready or willing to go home.
The sisters started Junk Gypsy over 20 years ago, as they like to say, “with $2,000 and a pick-up truck.” Amie, the oldest, was working in the corporate world about to enter law school, but her mother encouraged her to come home and follow her heart instead.
“That’s how it started,” she said. “I just thought it was a means to an end, but fell in love with the world, the people, the flea market. I fell in love with the road and buying junk. At the time, I felt more alive than I’d felt in my entire life, and I didn’t care what anyone thought about it.”
Fortunately, her mother was a huge supporter, even sparking the idea and partnering with her from the beginning. The sisters had grown up shopping garage sales and flea markets with their mother; it had been woven into the fabric of their lives, and so it was a natural, even if sideways, leap for Amie to take.
Jolie eventually joined her, all taking part in the junker lifestyle that they seem to have put a fine sheen polish on (with perhaps a little glitter). Although Jolie had already been working alongside Amie, she decided to quit her job and jump in full-time after her dad was diagnosed with incurable cancer, which, thankfully, went into remission.
“It’s just exhilarating,” Jolie said. “Everything is a challenge. Not any day is predictable, but that’s something to be grateful for . . . there’s a huge freedom in that.”
The retail store is a “great vault of roadside treasures,” filled with a wide array of goods, from clothes to luxurious bedding and home décor that visitors are unlikely to see anywhere else.
“We sell a lot of new stuff as well, not just junk,” Amie explained. “We have new clothes and boots, huge old candy scales that came out of a factory, a velvet tufted champagne sofa, old carnival games, handmade folk art, all kinds of junk.”
Twice a year, Junk Gypsy takes part in the epic Round Top Annual Antiques Week, which takes place along an eleven-mile stretch of Highway 237 for over fifteen days. Evidently, it is a sight to see and offers something special for each and every person.
The ladies also host a free event called Junk-O-Rama Prom, which takes place in a pasture and is a one-night-only cultural crossroads: a hub for junkers and junk-lovers alike to wear crazy prom dresses, dance to live music, and discover kindred spirits.
Now, not only do the Sikeses have a retail presence with both a brick-and-mortar and online store, but they also have a line with Pottery Barn and their own television show. Reruns of That Junk Gypsy Life can still be found on HGTV, but the current show, The Find and The Fix with Junk Gypsies, airs on Facebook.
For such a small town, it has a surprising number of fun ways to while away your vacation hours, starting with the restaurants.
Some of the Sikeses’ favorites include Royers Cafe, the Garden Co. Feed & Firewater, and Mandito’s Tex-Mex.
If you are only in town for an overnighter, Royer’s should top your list; this family-owned restaurant has been a staple in Round Top going on three decades.
The menu includes Shrimp Stuffed Grilled Quail, Rack of Lamb, and Audrey’s N’Yo Face Grilled Fish and Shrimp Pasta in a red wine parmesan cream sauce. However, what you cannot (or should not) go home without is a slice of their homemade pie. The problem here is that there are far too many choices, including buttermilk, pecan, apple, cherry, strawberry rhubarb, and even a Junk Berry Pie, named after Junk Gypsy.
Although you can easily enjoy nature by staying on the property, the ladies recommend grabbing one of their picnic baskets and dining amongst the rolling hills under one of their giant live oak trees. One of the not-to-be-missed excursions is just minutes down the road at the Round Top Festival Institute, a world-renowned institute of music and concert hall. “They have 20 miles of walking trails and meditation gardens,” Amie said. “It’s an amazing place to explore; my daughter and I do that together.”
There are plenty more recommendations and adventures the Sikes family have for you, but it is time to venture off into the great unknown and discover for yourself. The only guarantee at the Wander Inn is that you will not miss the television, of which there are gloriously none.