5 Retro Places To Stay in Austin That Will Take You Back in Time

Austin Motel features kitsch 1950s-style accents
Austin Motel features kitsch 1950s-style accents | Courtesy of Austin Motel
Photo of Culture Trip Travel Team
24 September 2019

Experience Austin like a local at one of these Texan boutique hotels, each with state-of-the-art facilities – and a healthy dose of history at their core.

Once upon a time, Texas was characterized only by Southern charm, cowboys and country music. Modern-day Austin, however, tells a very different story, and the thriving city is a popular destination for all kinds of travelers. Keeping up with demand, the city’s hotel scene has grown, and there are luxury lodgings aplenty. If you’d like a taste of tradition on your trip, look no further than this carefully curated roundup of the best places to rest your head in Austin.

Austin Motel

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Austin Motel, Austin
Courtesy of Austin Motel / Expedia.com

Styled as a retro motor inn, the Austin Motel hotel on bustling South Congress is far sleeker than the name might suggest. Revamped in 2017 by designer Liz Lambert, candy-colored rooms, old-fashioned leatherette chairs and cherry-red, lip-shaped phones create a bold 1950s vintage vibe. The real star of the show is the kidney-shaped pool, around which the great and the good come to pose in stylish swimwear. Don’t leave without a picture next to the infamous neon sign outside – the suggestive shape has made it something of an Instagram sensation.

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Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
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Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt, Austin
Courtesy of Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt / Expedia.com

The Van Zandt is a relative newcomer to the Austin hotel scene, but has made its mark thanks to its musical offering and slick Southern hospitality. Rooms are polished, and the dark wood headboards on the beds and brassy furnishings give them a cool, ranch feel. Music is the main draw for the it crowd here, though. There’s the daily live country music in Geraldine’s (the Southern Creole-style bar-restaurant), chandeliers crafted from trombones and curated playlists blasted underwater in the rooftop pool. Sip your morning coffee in Café 605, decorated with old-timey souvenirs, and take advantage of the free margaritas at the popular daily happy hour.

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The Driskill

Luxury, Independent Hotel
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Historic artwork and luxury linens emit a level of elegance in each of the 189 rooms
Historic artwork and luxury linens emit a level of elegance in each of the 189 rooms | Courtesy of The Driskill, Austin

From iron beds emblazoned with the Texan star to bedside lamps crafted from re-purposed Civil War-era pistols, The Driskill is rooted in tradition. Located at the busy heart of Austin’s downtown area, the imposing building’s polished marble floors, stained-glass ceilings and elegant styling will transport you back (in the most glamorous way possible) to a rather decadent bygone era. So too will the signature 1886 chocolate cake served at the onsite café/bakery, which has been a staple on the menu here for more than 130 years. Trust us – the hype is justified.

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Lone Star Court

Boutique Hotel
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‘Retro-ranch’ rooms bring vintage ’50s style into the 21st century
‘Retro-ranch’ rooms bring vintage ’50s style into the 21st century | Courtesy of Lone Star Court, Austin

If you’re on a Texan road trip, this is the perfect place to park up. The hotel is laid out like a vintage 1950s motor court, with welcoming modern additions including food trucks, fire pits and an open-air swimming pool – as well as a pavilion that plays host to many a musician. The rooms all come with Smeg fridges packed with local goodies to purchase, including everything you need to whip up sundowners for enjoying in the rocking chairs on your homey wooden porch. And if the ranch aesthetic has you lusting after a pair of cowboy boots, or perhaps a Stetson, Austin’s main shopping district, The Domain, is right on your doorstep.

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Archer Hotel Austin

Boutique Hotel
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You’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep at the Archer
You’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep at the Archer | Courtesy of Archer Hotel Austin

Situated in north Austin – a tasteful distance from the raucous, rambunctious excesses of “Dirty Sixth” street – the Archer is all about Southern class and manners, with a refined modern aesthetic. Think sweetened iced tea served by the pool, a turndown service that comes with a different local delicacy every night and an acclaimed restaurant championing tempting Texan fare (think Southern bourbon sours and Texas benedict with pulled pork and jalapeno corn muffins for brunch). In the bedrooms you’ll find retro furnishings including tufted red-leather headboards or photo murals of old Austin. It’s the best of both worlds, with a surfeit of Southern comfort.

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These recommendations were updated on September 24, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.