Hundreds of thousands of visitors arrive in Austin each March for South by Southwest (SXSW for short), a 10-day event that encompasses music, tech and film. To make the most of SXSW, book a stay at one of the following hotels.
Trying to make sure SXSW doesn’t break your budget? The Hampton Inn is a little less expensive than some of the other options on the list – and may be less glamorous as well. But if location factors into your SXSW game plan, you won’t find many better deals. It’s one block from the epicenter of SXSW action, the Austin Convention Center, and less than a five-minute walk to most venues. The hotel boasts fitness facilities and a rooftop pool. It is also home to Le Café Crêpe, a cozy Parisian café run by French natives George Dreyfus and Dominique Dreyfus-Leon that serves up delight with every dish.
Situated in downtown Austin on the shores of Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, also known as Town Lake, the Holiday Inn offers lakefront views, a rooftop pool and full-service dining at its Boathouse Grill. Less than a quarter mile from the Rainey Street Entertainment District, the hotel provides the perfect locale for those who are eager to be in the SXSW mix but are also keen to explore Austin’s more leisurely side, with its easy access to the local hiking and biking trails and to the lake for those urban fishing fans.
Located just one block from Austin’s world-famous Sixth Street, this hotel combines Texas hospitality with luxuries that cater to the monied millennial and to SXSW-goers looking to see and be seen. Perhaps the star attraction of the hotel is its rooftop pool bar Azul, said to be the highest in Austin. It offers excellent views and an unmatched social scene in good weather.
One block from Sixth Street and adjacent to the Austin Convention Center, the Hilton offers all the luxuries one would expect from the brand. It includes a full-service spa and fitness center, a lap pool and a rooftop whirlpool and sun deck, and offers SXSW attendees unparalleled views of the capital and Lady Bird Lake from its 31st floor. The hotel is pet-friendly for those who can’t bear to leave their fur-kids at home and offers several dining options including Tex Fresh fare at Cannon & Belle and tacos and craft beer at Austin Taco Project.
Built in 1924 as the city’s first high-rise hotel on Congress Avenue, the InterContinental Stephen F Austin offers visitors luxurious accommodations and a unique experience at the heart of the city. Its opulent Art Deco facade will remind guests of days gone by, while marble floors and burnished wood abound. Plush robes, expensive toiletries and custom furniture welcome you to your room, and Stephen F’s Bar & Terrace offers you an incomparable view of the Capitol building for those times when you’re ready to step out but not quite ready to leave the hotel.
Completed in 1886, The Driskill is the oldest operating hotel in Austin. It was here that Lyndon B Johnson took future first lady Lady Bird on their first date, and Concrete Blonde’s hit ‘Ghost of a Texas Ladies’ Man’ recounts an encounter that rock legend Annie Lennox is reputed to have had with one of the three ghosts that are thought to haunt the property. If you’re up for a bit of adventure mixed with Texas-style luxury, and want to be in the middle of the action, this venue is for you.
The Heywood is a boutique hotel on Austin’s trendy East Side. The rooms are individually styled, locally made art adorns the property, and loaner bikes are among the amenities. The courtyard has an internet jukebox, perfect for making new friends over some classic tunes, and the hotel’s proximity to Fader Fort and other SXSW venues will help you make the most of your festival experience.
Located in Austin’s trendy Second Street District, the W Hotel is not just close to the SXSW action but also acts as a venue sometimes. Catch a show next door at Austin City Limits (ACL Live) music venue, or stay put in the W’s spacious lobby – dubbed the Living Room – and enjoy a fully stocked tequila bar and a Record Room with 8,000 releases on vinyl to peruse while you sip your cocktail and listen to a live DJ. The hotel offers all the amenities you would expect from the luxury brand, but perhaps the standout feature for anyone using it as a base of operations for SXSW is the amazing Wet Deck that brings the party to guests, Vegas style.
It may not look like much from the street, but Austin’s South Congress Hotel makes up for it by being uniquely Austin, well located, cozy and chic. Situated in the city’s trendy SoCo District in historic Travis Heights, the hotel is close to some of the finest dining options in the city and offers easy access to eclectic shopping. It’s also a prime location to engage in SXSW’s favorite sport, people watching. The rooms feature custom-made furniture, beautiful design and unique touches. The hotel has a rooftop pool that is a popular gathering place when the weather allows, and the staff is one of the best you will ever encounter in the travel business.
Austin’s largest hotel is also one of its most popular for SXSW-goers. It’s home to multiple SXSW events, and the JW’s location gives you easy access to the Second Street District’s upscale shopping and dining options while being an easy walk, ride or Uber to events farther away. For those who choose to stay close to home between events, the hotel’s Corner Bar is a prime meeting spot, crowded with movers, shakers and wannabe dealmakers drinking local brews and eating some of the finest burgers in the city while they plot their next move. Those craving more sophisticated fare can take their business to authentic Italian Osteria Pronto to carbo-load for the next day’s SXSW activities.
If you’re looking to indulge during your SXSW stay, The Four Seasons is the place to do it, and is also the most likely place to run into an artist or two during your stay. Overlooking Lady Bird Lake, the hotel offers pristine views of the cityscape, lakeside dining and a saltwater pool (for guests not content to slum it in chlorinated water). The modern Texas kitchen food at the hotel’s restaurant, a collaboration between chef de cuisine James Flowers and world-renowned chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval, is exquisite.
What better way to experience SXSW fully than by staying in a musically furnished hotel? The Hotel Van Zandt is a Kimpton hotel set right in the heart of Rainey Street near downtown Austin. It celebrates the Live Music Capital of the World from the moment you walk in, with chandeliers made of horns and a record player in the lobby. The Hotel Van Zandt also regularly has live music at one of its in-house restaurants, Geraldine’s, not to mention some of the best margaritas in town to enjoy on their rooftop deck overlooking downtown Austin.
Conveniently located in the heart of south Austin, the Springhill Suites delivers quality service well above its price tag. This three-star hotel boasts a modern, fresh design, large rooms, a 24-hour gym and wellness facilities with an indoor pool. It’s also worth noting that the Springhill Suites is only a short drive from the Austin-Bergstrom Airport, so you’ll have more time to explore the city at the beginning and end of your trip. The hotel also offers an affordable regular shuttle into Austin’s downtown.
This retro motor inn is famed for its funky throwback rooms, kidney-shaped swimming pool and suggestive neon sign. Its prime location gives guests a great opportunity to explore Austin’s bars, live music and quirky shopping on the buzzy South Congress Avenue. The famous pool is at the heart of the action, while diner Joann’s Fine Foods, specializing in home-made Tex-Mex, is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many of Austin’s best bars and music venues (including the legendary Continental Club) are an easy walk away, as is the city’s downtown area – just a short stroll across the famous bat bridge.