Sleep and shop 19th-century style at the Comfort Common Bed and Breakfast in Comfort, TX.
The Comfort Common Bed & Breakfast is anything but plain or ordinary. The fanciest hotel in Comfort when it opened in 1880, the two-story limestone and wood building still holds center court in the best-preserved 19th-century business district in the entire state, according to the Texas Historical Association.
Owners Jim Lord and Bobby Dent have carefully modernized the five rooms, two suites, and two cottages while taking care to pay particular attention to preservation and conservation of the unique historical heritage. The first floor of the hotel and outbuildings are filled with antiques and unique gift shops that are a treasure hunter's delight.
"The building has really stood the test of time well," says Lord. He likes to point out subtle little flourishes in the limestone, like a cross cut into it. Originally called the Ingenhuett-Faust Hotel, named for the first two owners, it was built by famed frontier architect Alfred Giles. Lord calls the style "Victorian Country." The second two-story wing was added in 1894.
The building's design might be kind of plain, but is very functional with wide porches upstairs and down and lots of windows to catch the Hill Country breeze. The Comfort Common is one of the seven buildings in Comfort built by Giles and all of them are still in use.
When Lord and his partner discovered the 110-year-old hotel in 1990, it was being remodeled by a Boerne orthodontist and his wife. Although they had saved the hotel from ruin after years of hard work, they had only completed two guest rooms.
"It was at a time when I was thinking what my life was about," Lord says, "Some people have a midlife crisis early. I had just turned 30 when I had mine." The pair pulled up roots from Atlanta, Georgia, and found a new home in the hills west of San Antonio.
"It's an ongoing project," Lord says. Guests would never notice any unfinished quality to their stay. Each room is tastefully appointed with a theme décor. The upstairs rooms offer sitting porches overlooking the downtown area or the backyard garden.
Favorites among visitors are the Gorman Cottage and the Gladys Krauter Log Cabin. The cottage is equipped with a fireplace, kitchen, and sitting room. The two-story log cabin was moved from Kentucky and has a fireplace as well as a kitchen and separate living area.
The backyard paradise, filled with fragrant herbs and colorful flowers, is wonderfully landscaped for enjoying the cool evenings or the full breakfast that is served from the 1894 kitchen building. In the center of the courtyard is a gazebo to lend an air of English country charm.
A winding path behind the hotel leads to a cluster of antique and gift shops with their own specialties from gardening implements to nick-knacks and toys. In a pen out back are the two resident celebrities, Alfred and Matilda, a pair of miniature burros who entertain guests and visitors. Inside the main building the hotel sells a line of bath and body lotions and soaps as well as pajamas. "It just seemed like a natural extension of the hotel," Lord says.
Lord and Dent often make shopping forays "from the Midwest to the Deep South" looking for unique antiques to fill the shops. "It's a lot of fun, but a lot of work," Lord says. With a typical road trip taking 10 days they will put 5,000 miles on the car. "It's work from early to late," he says.
And the work has not gone unnoticed. Comfort is consistently chosen as one of the top 10 antique locations in the state. Country Homes magazine cited it as an "undiscovered antique capital." Fodor's guidebooks has picked The Comfort Common as one of the best country hotels in the state and Southern Living magazine has mentioned the hotel no less than nine times.
All of the positive press has attracted the attention of celebrities to the Hill Country. Movie stars Andie MacDowell, William Hurt, Ben Johnson, and others have spent the night in Comfort. Newsman Dan Rather is a regular visitor to the antique shops. "Comfort has a lot to offer," Lord says, "it has location, charm, and history." On Interstate 10, Comfort is close to the top tourist attractions in Texas, with San Antonio 30 minutes away and the scenic Hill Country all around.
"The people have been the best part of moving to Comfort," Lord says, "I wouldn't trade this place for anything. They have a real 'live and let live' attitude that is a part of their heritage. It's an interesting town that I've come to like a lot. I hope we've made an impact and breathed some life into the town."
The Comfort Common Bed and Breakfast, 717 High St., is open year-round with rates ranging from $70 to $125 for the log cabin. All guest rooms have private baths, are nonsmoking, and not suited for children or pets. The antique shops are open 10:30am-4:30pm Monday-Friday and 10:30am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 830/995-3030 or log on to www.comfortcommon.com.
Coming up this weekend ...
Kendall County Fair and Rodeo in Boerne offers the excitement of three rodeos each night, live music, dances, and fair shows, Aug. 31-Sept. 3. 830/755-8788.
Wine and Music Festival at the Quiet Valley Ranch south of Kerrville pairs folk music with fine Texas wines and arts and crafts, Aug. 31-Sept. 3. 830/257-3600.
Fayette County Country Fair in La Grange combines agricultural exhibits with a German-Czech festival of good food, drink, and music, Aug. 31-Sept. 3. 979/968-3781.
El Vez enters the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center's Theater, 1301 Guadalupe St., in San Antonio, for a concert that is a modern multi-cultural hybrid of Americana and Mexicano. Called a thinking man's Elvis, Robert Lopez's performance presents the Chicano experience through Presley's songs, Sept. 1-2. 210/351-7787.
Coming up ...
Dick Dowling Days at the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historical Park commemorates the Irish longshoreman's contribution to the Texas Revolution, Sept. 9-10. 409/917-2559.
The 1960s In Photographs at the Amon Carter Museum's location in downtown Fort Worth summarizes the memories of a decade with a portrait of Janis Joplin to JFK giving his last speech, through Oct. 29. 817/738-1933 or www.cartermuseum.org.