Oh, what luck. My son, Matthew and I were traveling over 6000 miles through the U.S., in our land yacht (A converted RV, 1962 Greyhound Bus)

Half way through the middle of nowhere in Texas we had an oil leak and were forced to stop. The sleepy little village of Van Horn looked like a place that time forgot.

Matthew found an auto mechanic on the main road called Broadway. We needed a part that wouldn’t arrive until the next morning. I took a walk, hoping to find a cafe for dinner.

Like a mirage, a charming old hotel appeared down the street. I was tired, hot and grubby after our two weeks on the road camping in the bus.

I ran up the steps past the courtyard to the front desk. To my surprise they only had a few rooms left. It turns out that I had by chance discovered a famous historic hotel called El Capitan. It built in 2930 by Charles Bassett. When Interstate 10 opened the hotel was converted into the Van Horn State Bank. In 2007 the bank was turned back into a hotel by Lanna and Joe Duncan. When Duncan rebuilt it, he found many secret passageways, a hidden staircase, a small room, and several tunnels.

Hotel El Capitan is once again a destination for travelers in far west Texas. Twelve of the rooms have French doors that open to patios and balconies overlooking the courtyard,
a fountain, fragrant flowers, and olive trees.

Another happy surprise was the Gopher Hole bar, once located in the basement via an old passageway that looked like a gopher hole. It is now part of the main floor dining room.
The hotel and cafe staff were exceptionally hospitable and helpful.

We spent festive happy hours (4-7) with a Manhattan and local craft draft beer.  Several locals and fellow travelers joined us. Later we enjoyed delectable signature dinners of hand cut prime cowboy rib eye steak with all the steakhouse trimmings. The 21 bottle wine selection was local and from around the world.

The next morning our camper was fixed in record time for a bargain price. We were on the road again, clean, rested and well fed.

Carlsbad caverns, Guadalupe, and Big Bend National Park were not that far away. A stop at Hotel El Capitan is worth the extra miles off the traveled path. This historic place is a true taste of the glorious past.

Reservations: toll free 877 283-1220
Dining room 423-283-1347
100 E. Broadway, Van Horn, Texas 79855

Brenda C. Hill

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
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