The Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas stands out from the empty landscape like the mansion in ‘Giant’. Marathon has one main road that runs straight through town and can be seen stretching away over the landscape and into the mountains. The other streets have old guesthouses, little churches and long vistas. You can visit the barren Gage gardens, with its paths leading nowhere and benches that can only be reached by walking over cactus or water. On cold nights you can curl up by the fire in the Gage’s red drawing room, beneath the moose head. If you come upon Marathon at night, you’ll find its glittering lights nestled in the foothills. In the evening I always take a long walk down the train tracks.
The Gage restaurant is best enjoyed in the courtyard by the fire, with a margarita from the White Buffalo Bar. It glows as the sun goes down, and you can enjoy the smell of wood smoke while you watch the stars come out.
Over the years the Gage has come to feel like home, but like all homes, it has its quirks. The mattresses are the most uncomfortable I’ve ever slept on, as though their box springs broke about fifty years ago. The lighting in certain rooms is suggestive of the red glow of a brothel. The restaurant, while always atmospheric, is unpredictable in both quality and opening days. A good breakfast is hard to come by within a hundred miles.
And yet the hotel has an undeniable charm, and I find myself returning for restless nights there year after year.