Where to Stay in Austin for a Local Experience

Everyone wants a piece of Austin’s distinctively laid-back, hip vibe
Everyone wants a piece of Austin’s distinctively laid-back, hip vibe | © Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Justine Harrington

Wondering where to stay in Austin? Whether you want to sip mezcal-tequila cocktails or delve into the artsy East Side of Austin, these are the best areas to stay like a local in the Texan city.

Austin’s distinctively laid-back, hip vibe is something everyone wants a piece of when they visit the Texan city. Whether you are hitting up live music at the Continental Club, discovering Austin’s East Side or tucking into vegetarian tacos, here’s where to stay in Austin to rub shoulders with the locals.

1. South Congress Hotel

Hotel

Hip outdoor pool area with blue-cushioned lounge chairs and stylish round sun shades at South Congress Hotel, Austin
Courtesy of South Congress Hotel / Expedia.com
Located in the popular SoCo District, the South Congress Hotel provides the perfect base for several iconic Austin experiences – live music at the Continental Club, tacos at Güero’s, perusing the shops and art galleries along South Congress Avenue, snapping a selfie in front of the “I love you so much” mural at Jo’s Coffee. The hotel is a destination in its own right, too — with modern decor and natural materials (warm cedar accents, terracotta and lush potted plants) throughout. Enjoy mezcal-tequila cocktails on the sleek rooftop pool and indulge in a meal at one of the hotel’s exclusive on-site restaurants, Central Standard and Otoko.

2. Hotel Eleven

Boutique Hotel

A colourful bedroom at Hotel Eleven with a blue back wall, a painting of a cityscape and a white double bed
Courtesy of Hotel Eleven

Exploring Austin’s artsy, funky East Side is a must-do, and Hotel Eleven is ideally situated in the heart of the area. This four-story, 14-room boutique hotel was designed to seamlessly blend into the neighborhood, with its handcrafted metalwork flourishes, custom-designed wood pieces and contemporary artwork from local artists. The rooftop deck boasts panoramic views of Downtown. Guest rooms feature vibrant textiles and furniture made from Austin companies such as Rabbet Labs and Drophouse Design.

3. The Archer

Boutique Hotel

An intimate hotel room at The Archer with a floral back wall and a grand double bed
Courtesy of Archer Hotel Austin

In North Austin, just a short drive from Downtown, the Archer sits in the chic Domain development, where you’ll find high-end retail shops in a park-like setting. Unlike some other hotels of its caliber, the Archer successfully blends upscale design with rustic Hill Country vibes – think cowhide chairs and Texas limestone flooring. Guests will appreciate the luxe in-room amenities such as plush mattresses and Frette bathrobes with his and hers slippers. On-site restaurant Second Bar and Kitchen serves hearty New American fare in the form of oxtail ragu, seared Faroe Island salmon and brick-oven pizzas.

4. Hotel Ella

Hotel

Exterior of Hotel Ella, a building with pillars and a large green lawn
Courtesy of Hotel Ella / Expedia
A healthy dose of Southern hospitality plus Texan charm is the name of the game at Hotel Ella, a 19th-century estate at the southern end of the University of Texas campus, with classical revival columns, a grand wrap-around porch and immaculately manicured grounds. All of the 47 guest rooms have custom-designed furniture and Texas modernist artwork, while some have private verandas overlooking the cabana-lined pool and courtyard area.

5. Park Lane Guest House

Bed and Breakfast

A double bed in a bright, white room at Park Lane Guest House
Courtesy of Park Lane Guest House / Hotels.com

Personalized, low-key service is what to expect at Park Lane Guest House, a B&B billed as an eco-oasis in SoCo that’s perfect for the ethical traveler. More of a meditative retreat than a hotel experience, Park Lane has solar-powered cottages with stained-glass windows, Persian rugs and antique pine floors. Guests can partake in a full, made-to-order vegetarian breakfast every morning, with offerings such as chai spice blueberry pancakes and lemon and rosemary buckwheat waffles. The leafy, tranquil property features a heritage oak tree, organic gardens, wind chimes and fountains. Rental bikes are available upon request.

6. Native Hostel Austin

Hostel

A white, four-poster double bed in a black bedroom at Native Hostel
Courtesy of Native Hostel / Hotels.com

Austin’s first boutique hostel brand, Native, offers 12 dorm-style rooms with a total of 66 beds, plus plenty of light-filled communal spaces. This includes loft rooms, a stocked kitchen, a parlor-lounge for co-working, and a long shared dining table with bohemian-hip decor. The hostel also doubles as a buzzing bar and kitchen, serving craft cocktails and American-style cuisine. There’s a regular rotation of on-site events, including film screenings, live collaborative DJ sets and guided walking tours.

7. The Carpenter

Boutique Hotel

Exterior of The Carpenter hotel, with a rectangular outdoor pool surrounded by wooden decking
Courtesy of the Carpenter / Expedia

Discovering the Carpenter for the first time can feel like wandering onto a Wes Anderson film set. It’s crammed with impeccably curated design, from the locally sourced terracotta to the starkly whitewashed brick and leather couches in the lobby and the concrete walls and rich, custom-made fabrics in the rooms. Carpenters Hall restaurant serves a delectable daily menu, including cold fried chicken with dill potato salad and pepita slaw.

8. Hotel ZaZa Austin

Boutique Hotel

The outdoor pool at Hotel ZaZa Austin, with pink sun loungers and a building with plant-covered walls in the background
Courtesy of Hotel ZaZa Austin / Expedia

Hotel ZaZa has big-city glamor in spades. The hotel features a full-service spa, rooftop pool and cocktail bar, alongside excellent in-house dining at Perfect Strangers, helmed by celebrated local chef Daniel Hatcher. The well-appointed rooms feature all the four-star amenities you can handle, including a signature turn-down service with candlelight, vitafive Melatonin, water and Lindt Lindor truffles.

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