Located in the heart of South Congress, the South Congress Hotel exemplifies the area’s character. Carefully designed rooms and suites highlighted by stressed leather couches, wooden floors and handmade furniture give guests a true taste of the Southwest. The mid-century modern design of the rooftop pool deck will have you feeling like you’re in a 1960s movie. Of course, that’s just the hotel’s property – walk outside, and you will find yourself in the middle of Austin’s trendiest neighborhood.
Location, amenities and a luxurious stay for guests land W Austin on this list. The hotel, towering over the city’s Second Street District where you can find some high-end shopping and fine dining restaurants, sits right next door to the world-famous ACL Live! Moody Theater, one of the city’s most popular concert venues that often hosts top-notch headlining acts. South-facing hotel rooms get a one-of-a-kind view of Lady Bird Lake and the city’s hike-and-bike trail. Check out the Wet Deck, the hotel’s semi-rooftop pool, or head downstairs to TRACE restaurant to enjoy a locally sourced menu and patio bar.
Located in the heart of “Dirty Sixth Street”, the city’s most raucous party district, The Driskill is Austin’s oldest hotel and stands out as an elegant, clean and charming change of pace from the area’s outdoor environment. Built in 1886, The Driskill offers guests a luxurious stay with a twist of yesteryear. The marble floors, tall columns and fine detail of the hotel’s craftsmanship stand out prominently in the building’s aesthetic. The lounge offers great local beer and regular live music, and the hotel café might have the best espresso and homemade muffins in town.
Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt has the unique quality of feeling like a world-class hotel that could find success in any city, yet boasts such a strong connection to Austin that it’s hard to imagine it anywhere else. The bar’s curated selection of local brews, the nightly live music from some of the best up-and-coming Austin-based artists, its high-end restaurant Geraldine’s and the rooftop pool deck that allows you to float among the city’s skyline all work together to give guests a one-of-a-kind stay. If you love rooftop bars, be sure to check out our guide to the best rooftop bars in Austin. Oh, and as for location? Guests are only a short walk away from Rainey Street, a unique entertainment district, and a short taxi ride away from downtown and all of the best things to do in Austin.
Hotel San José houses 40 motel-style rooms | Courtesy of Hotel San José / Hotels.com
Although right off the sidewalk of the busy South Congress Avenue, guests staying at the Hotel San Jose get the sense they’ve left the bustling city corridor and entered a private, relaxing retreat in the Texas Hill Country. The small, boutique hotel sits right next to Jo’s Coffee – famous for the “I love you so much” graffiti tag on its wall. Originally built in 1936 as an “ultramodern” motel, the now 40-room hotel boasts a lush green courtyard that connects the motel-style rooms that look more like a row of bungalows. The hotel’s bar is a hotspot for locals and celebrities visiting Austin.
This retro motor inn is famous for its funky design, kidney-shaped swimming pool, perfect for searing Austin summers and its cheeky neon sign. Book a “Poolside King” room for easy access to the famous pool and be sure to dine at Joann’s Fine Foods, open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving up Tex-Mex favorites like tamales and tacos. Austin Motel is conveniently located close to many of Austin’s best bars and music venues including the legendary Continental Club, while downtown is just a short walk across another Austin icon, “bat bridge”.
Occupying one of Austin’s landmark properties, Hotel Ella is a historic mansion that now makes for a charming luxury hotel. Its style exudes early 20th-century decadence with an art collection that is unmatched in Austin’s other hotels. The wraparound second-story porch is a great spot to read a book, people-watch or enjoy some cocktails. Of course, you are going to want to check out the hotel’s on-site restaurant, Goodall’s Kitchen, which serves up a locally sourced American Bistro menu, while the sleek, black marble Ella Parlor Bar provides handcrafted cocktails and high-end bar snacks such as beignets.
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Hotel Saint Cecilia has its own lending library | Courtesy of Hotel Saint Cecilia / Booking.com
A 14-room boutique hotel, Hotel Saint Cecilia represents the best of Austin. Built in honor of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music and poetry, the hotel embodies the “elegance of old-world luxury” and the rebellious personalities of inspirations such as The Rolling Stones and writers Hunter S Thompson and Jack Kerouac. Each room comes with a turntable and top-notch sound system, and guests are encouraged to hit the hotel’s lending library to borrow vintage records, poetry collections and rock biographies during their stay. Oh, and the beds? Organically handmade by Hästens, a revered Swedish bedding company.
Smack dab in the middle of it all, the JW Marriott Austin not only gives guests a clean, semi-luxurious stay but also a location that is within walking distance to the best the city has to offer. The on-site Osteria Pronto restaurant serves up authentic Italian cuisine – a rarity in Texas – and its Corner Bar puts patrons on the corner of Congress Avenue and Second Street, two of the city’s most lively entertainment districts.
With 1,408 rooms, the Fairmont Austin is the largest hotel in the city and sits at the southern end of Austin’s Red River Cultural District, the city’s live music hub with several concert venues that host popular musical acts on a nightly basis. Opened in 2018, the hotel offers guests modern rooms and amenities, a food court that stays true to the local flavor and a hotel bar that is one of the only bars in the country that serves Cristal by the glass.
The first high-rise hotel on Congress Avenue was the 15-story Stephen F Austin, now run by InterContinental Hotels Group. Still standing as a historic property on one of the city’s historic streets, the hotel offers guests a variety of room types with early-20th-century charm and a uniquely designed pool room. It sits between the Texas State Capitol – a must-see for any visitor – and the rest of Austin’s lively downtown.