Are you the type of traveler who just wants a comfortable, clean, inexpensive place to fling your bags and rest your body so that you can spend all your time getting to know Austin? Or are you looking for a lodging that caters to your every business need? Do you prefer divided space to conduct private meetings or to give you some breathing room from the kids? Perhaps you’re looking for accommodations that reflect the history of Austin and transport you back in time. Is luxury the key to your heart? Whether you’re looking for a massage and a sauna, a morning jog along Lady Bird Lake, a view, shopping, or nightlife, you’ve come to the right place!
While Austin offers plenty of accommodations for the traveler who believes the best surprise is no surprise, there also is an ever-increasing number of rooms for those searching for the unique. If you’re wishing to be transported, think of us as “OZ-tin,” click your heels, make a reservation, and repeat, “There’s no place like Texas.”
Perhaps the most “Austin” of Austin’s grand hotels is the Driskill, the Sixth Street landmark that has been treated to a historically accurate restoration valued in the millions of dollars. Another classic Austin landmark, the long-vacant Stephen F. Austin Hotel, has been restored to splendor and is now part of the luxury InterContinental chain. An exquisite piece of Austin history, the stately Goodall Wooten Mansion, was rescued in 2003 with the opening of the luxury boutique hotel the Mansion at Judges’ Hill. A hip hotel on trendy South Congress Avenue is the restored World War II–era Hotel San José. These hotels, and a few others scattered around the city, are Austin through and through. Several of the other major chain hotels have also created a Texas ambience, notably the Four Seasons Hotel, where the lobby bar has become a perfect people-watcher spot. Here, high-tech executives from around the world rub shoulders with lobbyists and world-famous musicians, actors, and film executives. But travelers don’t have to shell out big bucks to get a real Austin experience. Some of our locally owned, older motels are truly Austin—and a lot easier on the pocketbook.
While Austin may never see a return to the days when the grand hotel was the center of community activity, hotels are giving residents more and more reasons to check in. As a result, out-of-towners aren’t the only ones to benefit from Austin’s hotel industry. For weddings and other festivities, meetings, dining, socializing, or getaway weekends, Austinites are discovering the pleasures of our local hotels.
Whether you’ve come to live in Austin, or only wish you could, there are a few things you should know before making your hotel or motel reservation. If this is your first visit, or you haven’t had the pleasure of returning for a while, allow us to orient you to the lay of the land regarding accommodations.
The majority of Austin’s full-service and luxury hotels are clustered around downtown. However, you’ll also find several noteworthy, full-service hotels along the I-35 corridor, up north in the Arboretum and Domain areas, at the airport, and down in Southeast Austin. A high concentration of hotels and motels is found along I-35, the north-south artery that bisects Austin. We’ve divided I-35 into sections in our geographical listings for those who prefer to stay close to this practical thoroughfare and yet be near their destination. We’ve also pointed out the best choices among the other hotels and motels scattered around the city. Growth in the Austin hotel-motel industry has exploded since we published our first edition of the Insiders’ Guide to Austin in 1999. Included in that growth are new—or newly restored—Austin originals. For this seventh edition, we are focusing primarily on those hotels and motels that are truly unique to Austin or have a particular Austin feel for one reason or another. To offer our readers a range of choices, however, we also have included a few of the chain hotels.
Our annual music and film festivals, sessions of the Legislature, University of Texas football weekends, and other big social and sporting events all draw crowds to Austin, so it’s especially important to reserve your room well in advance for these times.
The listings include a dollar-sign code that will give you an idea of the hotel’s rate. Taxes are not included in the rates, so when you’re calculating the cost of your stay, make sure to add 15 percent. A portion of the tax goes to support the arts in Austin. The rate information has been provided by the hotels themselves and is subject to change. Unless otherwise noted, all the hotels and motels listed accept major credit cards.
For a truly unique Austin experience, spend a night, or longer, in one of our many bed-and-breakfast establishments. The eclectic assortment includes luxury establishments designed to pamper you, restored colonial and Greek Revival homes for stepping back into another era, and plenty of places to just hang out and relax—in town or out by the lake. The common denominator for all our bed-and-breakfasts, however, is the attention to detail paid to each property. The special people who operate these lodgings are, in many cases, sharing their own homes and their lives—not to mention favorite breakfast recipes. Visitors will also find bed-and-breakfasts created for the exclusive use of their guests. There is no better reason to choose a bed-and-breakfast than simply the desire to stay in a one-of-a-kind lodging.
For distinctive special events such as weddings, parties, and business gatherings, several of Austin’s bed-and-breakfasts can fulfill all your needs. For that romantic interlude, some offer celebration packages that include champagne and other delights. With all these special services, it’s no wonder more and more Austinites are discovering they don’t have to leave town to go on vacation.