Retro Places to Book in Austin, Texas

The Austin Motel has a bold 50s and 60s vibe
The Austin Motel has a bold 50s and 60s vibe | Courtesy of Austin Motel / Expedia
Photo of Victoria Beardwood
12 October 2021
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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.

Hotel Ella

Outdoor pool area framed by foliage with white rattan armchairs shaded by umbrella at Hotel Ella in Austin
Courtesy of Hotel Ella / Expedia
History buffs looking to get up close and personal with Austin’s past should book a stay at Hotel Ella downtown. Built in 1900 as one of the original grand estates – originally called ​​Goodall Wooten House, after its owner – it has long been a landmark in the city. The original Greek Revival exterior has been well preserved, complete with a grand collonaded portico and a wraparound veranda, though the interior has been renovated. There are also two buildings behind the main mansion, where you’ll find the guest accommodation and outdoor pool surrounded by cabanas.

Carpenter Hotel

Outdoor pool area with lounge chairs, large tree and retro hotel behind it at the Carpenter Hotel in Austin
Courtesy of Carpenter Hotel / Expedia

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.

Hotel Saint Cecilia

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
Outdoor pool area at Hotel Saint Cecilia with a SOUL sign and white deckchairs at dusk
Courtesy of Hotel Saint Cecilia / Booking.com
It’s only fitting that you can rent Gibson guitars at the reception of a hotel named after the patron saint of music and poetry. The theme continues throughout the rest of the hotel, which takes inspiration from the rock’n’roll revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s. There’s a giant neon sign reading “soul” at the end of the 50ft lap pool, musical instruments dotted about the property, and a lending library from which you can borrow vintage LPs to play on the turntables in your rooms, as well as rock biographies and poetry anthologies. The aesthetic itself would suit a rock star, with its eclectic furniture, clashing prints and a mix of vintage and contemporary styles. Hotel Saint Cecilia also offers free bikes (note: not motorbikes, despite the theme) to take out for a spin.

Lone Star Court

A suite at Lone Star Court features 60s furniture and retro decor
Courtesy of Lone Star Court / Expedia

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.

Austin Motel

Austin Motel has the best swimming pool in town, with red and white umbrellas and deckchairs
Courtesy of Austin Motel

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.

The Driskill

The dining area at the Driskill is kitted out in leather seating and dark green walls
Courtesy of the Driskill / Expedia

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.

Archer Hotel Austin

The grand lobby area at the Archer Hotel Austin features a fireplace, crystal chandelier and bespoke furniture
Courtesy of Archer Hotel Austin / Expedia

Rustic Texas meets modern sophistication in every aspect of this boutique hotel in North Austin’s the Domain. Cowhide chairs, cowboy rubber duckies and gigantic equine murals mingle with dark wood and leather, contemporary light fixtures and crisp white sheets. The service is equal measures exuberant Southern hospitality and posh hotel deference. And the hotel restaurant, Second Bar + Kitchen, headed up by rising star chef David Bull, serves refined versions of local classics, such as shrimp and grits, as well as international dishes.

Still not found your perfect stay? Check out the best hotels to book in Austin, Texas, bookable with Culture Trip.

These recommendations were updated on October 12, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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