Review: Hotel Otto Is a Fort Worth “Micro Resort” Made from Shipping Containers
The eight rooms are joined by a pool, bocce court and fun-loving Italian restaurant
Fort Worth has more than 900,000 residents, making it the 12th largest city in the nation. It has a booming arts district, a vibrant downtown, and a vibe that merges western bonafides with cosmopolitan living. It has a lot going on, including a crop of new, high-end hotels — but sometimes, less is more, as Hotel Otto proves.
Founded by Tim Love — the acclaimed chef and de facto Texas ambassador — it’s billed as Fort Worth’s first “micro resort” and features eight shipping container bungalows situated along the Trinity River and adjacent to Love’s Italian restaurant, Gemelle. A curiosity to sleep inside a metal rectangle (and a fervent love for fresh pasta) spurred my recent overnight stay.
Pull up to Hotel Otto in the River District neighborhood, and you’ll see Gemelle flanked by a white fence hiding the hotel grounds. Check in at the bar to receive your key, then take a tour of the property. The eight standalone rooms share a courtyard and are covered in a mix of green ivy and white wood. Walk along the path and go through a gate to see what else you’re working with.
The heated pool is, naturally, a shipping container, and it embraces coastal Italian sensibilities with white chairs and orange Aperol-branded umbrellas. There’s a 10,000-square-foot vegetable garden, which supplies the restaurant, and a bocce court where you can square off against your friends. The outdoor bar supplies cocktails (yes, it’s also a shipping container), and a small stage hosts live music multiple days per week. It’s minimalism meets maximalism. (And an Instagrammer’s paradise.)
If you want to get off the property, the hotel’s location along the Trinity River grants easy access to 45 miles of trails. Go explore on your own or have Otto set you up with an electric bike, a kayak, or a guided horseback tour of the area.
First thing to note: These rooms are small. The 160 square feet include the bathroom, and with a bed and kitchenette, there’s not much floor space for two people to move around. My wife and I stowed our bags under the bed to avoid tripping over them, and we occasionally got in each other’s way while prepping for dinner (solo travelers should be fine). But the rooms are thoughtfully constructed to make the most of the small space, and they sport an aesthetic that borders on goddamn adorable.
Every climate-controlled room has a queen-size bed, in-room bar, Illy coffee maker, stocked mini fridge, and a TV. The bathroom is surprisingly comfortable, with a walk-in shower and Hermès bath products, so you can pack light and leave your usual toiletries at home. A small bistro table and two chairs provide a place to sit, and the butcher block bar top is a convenient spot to mix drinks. That’s made easier by the complimentary Aperol Spritz kit featuring a half-size bottle of Aperol, split of Prosecco, and club soda, as well as the shaker, strainer, bottle opener, and everything else you require to take full advantage of the mini whiskeys, gins, and vodkas lining the bar.
Above your head is a roof deck, which effectively doubles your living space. Head up a spiral staircase to find a breezy landing with four chairs, an umbrella, a smokeless Solo Stove fire pit, and a Yeti cooler — all the trappings required for a fun evening making s’mores or drinking al fresco. If you want to light a fire, call the front desk and a friendly staffer will come right over with a bundle of wood, like your very own bonfire concierge. The roof is a vital component in the elbow-room department, and a good gathering place should you have friends staying in the adjacent bungalow.
Gemelle, which translates to “twin girls” in Italian and is named for chef Love’s daughters, predates the hotel by two years. It serves three meals per day and offers in-room dining from 8 a.m. until midnight.
The cocktails lean Italian, with a selection of spritzes, a Negroni and the Manhattan-esque Roma, made with whiskey, fernet, and orange bitters. The menu is a mix of Detroit-style pizzas, handmade pastas, and fresh produce. We started with a salad of roasted carrots standing upright in a bed of spiced yogurt and crushed pistachios before moving onto a couple pastas — bucatini with guanciale, red onion, and tomato and fettuccine with pork ragu. At the server’s suggestion, I added some sliced rabbit-rattlesnake sausage (a Tim Love specialty) to my bucatini for a few dollars extra. It was the right call.
On this particular Saturday night, the heated patio was filled with hotel guests and Fort Worth locals, who buzzed with conversation and drinks. The following morning, breakfast was a more relaxed affair. Couples sipped Champagne, friends cured hangovers with avocado toast, and families ate biscuits and jam, while live music filtered in from the garden below. It was a leisurely end to a leisurely stay.
Hotel Otto’s micro rooms grant you a place to rest your head for the night, but you’re here for the full experience. The roof decks, hotel grounds, built-in activities and top-notch restaurant provide everything you need for a fun weekend away, whether you’re in town to explore the city or don’t ever leave the premises.
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