Everyone who goes to the desert town of Marfa in west Texas comes away a little changed. On the face of it just another two-horse settlement, Marfa has long been the adopted home of avant garde artists. If that's not enough, Marfa is also where James Dean stayed while filming 'Giant', his final movie.

Now there's an unusual way to experience this most out of the ordinary of Texan towns. El Cosmico, just outside Marfa, is set over 21 acres of desert, with your accommodation scattered across the parched landscape.

Perhaps you'll choose a restored classic caravan, finished in an eye popping colour. There are also Sioux-style tepees and a Mongolian yurt. Whatever your selection, you're likely to be dining outdoors in an area where there's very little rain, even if the winter months may be chilly at night.

El Cosmico forms an art work in its own right, not least because of the desert night skies which show off the stars at their brightest. Maria's better known art attractions are easily reached. Chinati is the art estate left by minimalist Donald Judd, while 'Prada Marfa' is a fake Prada store that's the work of contemporary artists Elmgreen and Dragset, designed to crumble into the desert.

The hotel itself regularly hosts concerts, "happenings", spiritual events and, each autumn, the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love. It's an extraordinary way to experience an astonishing environment.