Hundreds of thousands of visitors arrive in Austin each March for South by Southwest (SXSW), a music, tech and film festival. To make the most of the Live Music Capital of the World, book a stay at one of the following hotels.
Hampton Inn and Suites – Downtown
Courtesy of Hampton Inn & Suites Austin @ The University / Capitol / Expedia
Trying to make sure SXSW doesn’t break your budget? Hampton Inn is less expensive than some other options on this list – and maybe less glamorous – 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, Austin Convention Center, and less than a five-minute walk from most other venues. The hotel has fitness facilities and a rooftop pool. Next door you can eat like a Parisian at Le Café Crêpe, a cafe run by a French brother and sister.
Situated in Downtown Austin on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, also known as Town Lake, the Holiday Inn offers lakefront views, a rooftop pool and full-service dining at its Boathouse Bar & Grill. It’s less than a 10-minute walk from the nightlife and dining on Rainey Street, but the hotel is also ideal for SXSW visitors who are keen to explore the city’s leisurely side, with its easy access to 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 Rooftop, said to be the highest in Austin. It offers excellent views and an unmatched social scene.
Luxurious and well-positioned for the SXSW crowd, the Hilton is adjacent to Austin Convention Center and one block away from Sixth Street. It has a full-service spa and fitness center, a lap pool and a rooftop whirlpool and sun deck, and offers unparalleled views of the capital and Lady Bird Lake. 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 accommodation at the heart of the city. Beyond its opulent art deco facade, marble floors and burnished wood abound. You’ll find plush robes, expensive toiletries and custom furniture in your room, and an incomparable view of the Capitol building from Stephen F’s Bar & Terrace.
Completed in 1886, The Driskill is the oldest operating hotel in Austin. It was here that President Lyndon B Johnson took his future wife, 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 haunt the property. If you like adventure mixed with Texas-style luxury, this venue is for you.
Located in Austin’s Second Street District, the W Hotel is not just close to the SXSW action but also serves as a venue. Catch a show around the corner at Austin City Limits (ACL Live) music venue, or stay put in the W’s spacious lobby – dubbed the Living Room – where you can peruse its 8,000-strong vinyl collection as 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 and chic. Situated near 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 and beautiful design. The hotel has a rooftop pool that is a popular gathering place when the weather allows, and the staff are 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, cycle or Uber-ride away from events farther away. For those who choose to stay close to home between events, the Corner Restaurant’s bar is a prime meeting spot, crowded with movers and shakers drinking local brews and eating the finest burgers in the city. Those craving more sophisticated food can take their business to Osteria Pronto Italian 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 hotel’s restaurant, Ciclo, is a modern Texas kitchen created in collaboration with the world-renowned chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval.
What better way to experience SXSW fully than by staying in a musically furnished hotel? Set in the heart of Rainey Street near Downtown Austin, Hotel Van Zandt celebrates the Live Music Capital of the World from the moment you walk in, with chandeliers made from horns and a record player in the lobby. The hotel regularly has live music at Geraldine’s, one of its in-house restaurants, not to mention some of the best margaritas in town to enjoy on their rooftop deck.
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 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 Downtown Austin.
This retro motor inn is famed for its funky retro 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 Joann’s Fine Foods, a diner 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.
The Heywood is a boutique hotel on Austin’s trendy East Side. The rooms are individually styled, the walls are adorned with works by local artists, 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.