9 Best Hotels in Austin
Bolstered by big-ticket events like South by Southwest and the City Limits Festival, Austin has become one of America's biggest incubators for world-class music, food, and design—and the hospitality scene is finally catching up. Whether you’re in the market for luxury, history, charm, or a little bit of everything, the best hotels in Austin deliver.
When it comes to getting back to nature, this adults-only all-inclusive retreat, in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve just outside downtown Austin, checks all the boxes. Stays here fixate on working out your body and your soul with a Texan twist: think sunrise horseback rides, hatchet throwing, two-step dance lessons, mechanical bull riding, and meditation sessions, all before healthful, upscale meals (including vegan options) prepared by chef Benjamin Baker. Nurse your aches at the day spa, which sits next to the property's stunning infinity pool, before bedding down in one of its 70 rooms, all of which have plush beds with rough-hewn headboards and private balconies overlooking Texas Hill Country.
Four Seasons Hotel Austin
When big names come to town—we’re talking Queen Elizabeth II and Dalai Lama big—they stay at the Four Seasons. This downtown go-to is everything we’ve come to expect from the Four Seasons brand: the look is elegant and sophisticated, it has one of the best addresses in the city (just steps away from downtown’s best sights), and service is unfailingly top-notch. Among its star amenities are a redesigned spa (don’t miss the wall made of Himalayan pink salt); TRIO, the chic award-winning seafood restaurant and steakhouse; and heated outdoor pool, which looks right over scenic Lady Bird Lake.
A portrait of cattle baron Jesse Lincoln hangs in the Driskill’s grandiose lobby—a nod to the man who built this “frontier palace” back in 1886. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel remains one of Austin’s oldest and most famous landmarks. While the Romanesque-style lobby retains its old-world atmosphere with limestone archways, Greek columns, and stained-glass ceilings, expect a more modern update—contemporary artwork; custom furniture; double vanities—in the 189 rooms and suites, some of which have city views. When happy hour hits, head to The Driskill Bar, whose cowhide-covered sofa and wall-mounted longhorn add to the saloon vibe.
South Congress Hotel
Austin's hip, young crowd amasses at South Congress Hotel, all thanks to its arsenal of buzzy, ‘gram-worthy spaces. Sure, the 83 rugged-yet-modern guest rooms are eye-catching, with exposed concrete ceilings and denim and leather headboards, but you won’t be spending much time in them. Of its three restaurants, Café No Sé prepares trendy breakfast staples like avocado toast while the covetable 12-seat sushi counter at Otoko serves an omakase menu worth writing home about. Along with a rooftop pool framed by funky flat umbrellas, there are outposts of cult NYC nail salon Tenoverten and local boutique Sunroom, while free concerts are put on in the open courtyard.
Lake Austin Spa Resort
The lakeside setting of this 19-acre destination spa resort provides the perfect backdrop for anyone seeking a secluded space to recharge. Cottage-style suites, complete with private porches and soaking tubs, feel like homes away from home, while itineraries are designed to be as full or as relaxed as you like and run the gamut from lessons in Feng Shui and gardening to stand-up paddle boarding on the lake and pampering treatments at the 25,000-square-foot spa. The all-inclusive cost is steep—three-day weekends start at $1,600—but the results make it worth the splurge.
Hotel Van Zandt
This sophisticated Kimpton in Austin’s Historic District doesn’t let you forget you’re in the Music Capital of the World. In the lobby, light fixtures are fashioned from repurposed trumpets while a 3D wall installation of flying birds "emerges" from a decorative gramophone. Geraldine’s, the in-house restaurant, serves up Southwestern small plates like barbecue short rub alongside nightly performances by local and traveling talents. (Block out your Sunday morning for their jazz brunch.) Even the hotel name comes from legendary local guitarist Townes Van Zandt. Upstairs, rooms and suites are painted in a cool palette of blues and feature stocked mini-bars and views of either the city, the water, or the courtyard pool. When you're ready to hit the town, you needn't venture far: Rainey Street, lined with live music venues and trendy bars, is right in the heart of the action.
Here’s some fun trivia: the stone mason hired by the Vanderbilts to build Asheville’s storied Biltmore Mansion is the same talent behind the columned façade of this gorgeous Greek Revival structure, now the 47-room Hotel Ella. Inside, white-walled guest rooms are decidedly sparer but luxuriously spacious, with tufted headboards, velour armchairs, and eclectic art. (Book a suite to see more of the building’s original bones, such as original fireplaces and access to the shared balcony.) The central courtyard and lap pool (which is lit at night) is an oasis, as is the Parlor Bar, known for its craft cocktails and house-made hummus.
Hotel San José
Now-lauded Austin hotelier Liz Lambert disrupted the city's hotel scene when she transformed a 1939 motel into Hotel San José in 2000. At just 40 rooms, the bungalow-style bohemian gem on the South Congress strip echoes its trendy SoCo surrounds. Rooms are sleek and minimalist, with concrete floors and wooden platform beds covered in paisley duvets. It’s especially a hot spot for SXSW crowds, who dig the lobby’s music library, on-loan Polaroid cameras and fleet of bicycles, and swimming pool, whose courtyard hosts a jazz brunch on sunny weekends.
Hotel Saint Cecilia
For her second Austin project, hotelier Liz Lambert injected this 19th-century former Victorian townhouse with a healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll cool—think elegant chandeliers and silk curtains alongside Verner Panton lamps and bold colors. All 14 guest rooms come with hanging photographs of pop figures like The Beatles as well as turntables, where you can spin vintage vinyl borrowed from the lobby’s lending library. (It also stocks a curated selection of ‘60s- and ‘70s-era movies and books.) Past guests include the Foo Fighters, who recorded an eponymous EP on the premises while in town. Do like they (probably) did and snag a bungalow by the pool—after taking a selfie in front of the neon “SOUL” sign, of course.
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