From Americana-inspired motels and kitschy 1950s-style stays to potentially haunted luxury hotels from the late 1800s, we’ve picked out the best retro places to stay in Austin, Texas – bookable on Culture Trip.
In recent years, Austin has transformed from a college town into one of the most vibrant cities in the USA. More and more young people have moved here to take advantage of its growing tech scene (even Google has set up shop in Austin), art and culture, and incredible food, leading to its new reputation as a pocket of left-wing counterculture in Texas. All of this has filtered into all areas of the city, including its hotels, where design and local touches are the focus.
The Carpenter Hotel might be one of the most hipster hotels in Austin. On-site artisanal coffee shop using locally sourced coffee? Check. Record players and LPs in the lobby? Absolutely. A special red phone at the pool from which you can order food and drink to your lounger? You bet. You could point your phone and shoot at practically any spot in the hotel and have an Instagram-worthy shot ready to upload. Also, as every hipster stay needs to be inside a repurposed building with an industrial past, this place used to be a carpenters’ union hall, commemorated with original union wall hangings in the hotel’s restaurant.
This hotel in the Domain, an upscale development, balances a playful 1950s-inspired design with Texan touches and modern facilities. The bold colors that pop up throughout, the vintage car out front, the mid-century modern furniture and the light blue Smeg fridges in each room create a fun retro look, while cacti, rocking chairs and the odd bit of cow print are a nod to its Texas Hill Country surrounds. Lone Star Court comprises several buildings, which share a small dipping pool, a courtyard, firepits and a pavilion that regularly hosts live music. Then there’s the Water Trough Restaurant, serving Texas-style dishes, such as tacos, barbecued ribs and burgers.
It doesn’t get much more Americana than the Austin Motel. It’s been giving weary travelers a place to lay their heads since 1938, but the mid-century aesthetic is down to a design overhaul in 2017. The vintage vibe begins outside with an obnoxiously large red neon sign advertising the motel to passers-by and a marquee sporting a mix of greetings and local sayings. Inside, the rooms display the perfect level of kitsch, with colorful vinyl bed frames and fun feature walls covered in patterned wallpaper. Red-and-white-striped umbrellas and loungers flank the kidney-shaped pool, which also has a pool bar to match. For a bit of retro Austin to take home, visit the motel’s shop, which sells fun items such as bathrobes and colorful eye masks, all from local brands.
Established in 1886, the Driskill is probably the most retro hotel in Austin. First opened by a notable cattle baron, it became a place of luxury, playing host to fancy balls, galas and even presidents (it was President Johnson’s favorite hotel in Austin). Today, the grandeur remains in its opulent facade and interiors, but its rooms have been updated and exude modern elegance. The on-site 1886 Café and Bakery pays homage to the hotel’s past, too, with a menu full of traditional Texan dishes, such as Helen Corbitt’s cheese soup – she was the hotel’s former culinary director. Naturally, its age has put it on the most haunted map of America, but we’ll take our chances for a stay here.