Hotels and inns all around the country have recently been embracing the small, sustainable, and minimal lodging markets. I’ve heard of glamping in luxury tents and yurts in the desert, airstreams, domes, tiny house AirBnBs, and more.
Matt White, who is known for his shop- Recycling the Past and event space- Round Top Ballroom, took tiny living to another level, and built Texas’ first shipping container hotel just minutes from downtown Round Top, TX. Matt has always had the constant urge for wanderlust, the need to recycle, and to create. Over 18 years ago, one of his friends who owns one of the fields in Round Top told him that he needed to come and check out Antiques Weekend. He took a half-loaded box truck and set up in the mud…and kept coming back to both the spring and fall shows for about seven years. He then launched Recycling the Past, and has since been a interior design source for clients such as: Nordstrom, Anthropology, Polo, etc., as well as numerous restaurants, hotels, and other designers.
After falling in love with Texas and the Round Top area, he bought the current 7.5 acre property where the Texas branch of RTP is located. It wasn’t long after, when the idea of the shipping container hotel was conceptualized on a napkin while he was flying to some far off destination. He’d always been toying with the concept of building something from containers, which he also likes to refer to as his version of Lincoln Logs. He wanted to create something that looked raw on the outside, but nice on the inside; like the flophouzes, or rugged tiny surf shacks, that dot the New Jersey shoreline. The name flophouze just fit with the vibe he was going for.
In 2016, Matt and his team officially opened with three containers, all adorned with reclaimed artifacts that he had found while on trips around the globe. The hardwood floors are original to the containers, which have traveled the world numerous times over. The interior white pine walls were sourced from an old distillery in Kentucky, as well as the company’s farm in New York. All the windows were salvaged from an old school in Philadelphia that was slated for demolition. Kitchen cabinet bases came from an FDA lab in Brooklyn. The counter tops came from an old bowling alley from Texas. Matt wanted the overall vibe of the containers to be minimal, yet functional. Throughout his many years of traveling, he has spent nights in anything from luxury hotels to dumpy hole-in-the-walls, thus sparking his drive to deliver something unique and nice to his guests. Each houze has a different personality. The decor is also constantly evolving, and everything (including the containers) is for sale.
In 2017, the team added three more containers. Earlier this year, they added a small shipping container pool/spa that was crafted by Modpools. The pool continues to add to the ‘relocatable’ and ‘try before you buy’ themes that it shares with the living quarters. Flophouze partnered with Modpools, and is offering a free night’s stay to folks who purchase a pool through them. The property also features a covered BBQ area, complete with a smoker and a gas grill for guests who want to bring their own food. Guests can also relax on Adirondack chairs, hammocks, and also have access to the fire pits.
Matt has plans to continue to grow the property, as well as the possibility of expanding his concept to other parts of the nation.
My friend, Sofia and I stayed at the boutique hotel a couple weeks ago. The hotel has a self check-in process, where you receive an email after booking, explaining the process of getting the code to the lockbox, etc. Our home-away-from-home was Houze II, where there was a living room, kitchenette, bathroom, and bedroom. The whole space was open concept, with the bathroom that can be closed off with sliding doors. The living room offered a cozy couch with a coffee table and a selection of books and magazines. There is no TV, however, there is Wi-Fi and a Crosley record player with an assortment of records. The kitchenette had a Chemex coffee system, tea pot, mini-fridge, microwave, and other useful utensils that would make a short-term stay comfortable. The bathroom features an enclosed shower with rain shower head, and bath towels by Los Angeles-based Matteo. The bedroom had two twin beds that boasted cozy linens from the famed Pandora de Balthazar (a favorite at the Arbors field during Antiques Weekend). We enjoyed the pool, the pastoral views, the mooing cows, the sunset, and the overall quiet and slow atmosphere of the countryside. It was a nice contrast from the hustle-and-bustle of the city. While in the area, we checked out Henkel Square, Royer’s Pie Haven, Teague’s Tavern (awesome service and veggie burgers), Junk Gypsies, and Round Top Mercantile (for groceries and such). Don’t forget to get a photo of the sign!
Matt recommends going into town for a beer or wine, sitting at Flophouze and watching the sunset and stars, taking a drive along the backroads, checking out Festival Hill, and eating at Feed and Firewater.
Sofia and I also did a mini photoshoot on the property. See those photos, along with photos from the trip, HERE.
Scroll down for photos from our stay…
NOTE: I was given a complimentary one-night stay in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.