Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Awesome Hotel Options in Austin

Fresh from a much-needed quickie getaway in Austin, I'm completely smitten.  The W Hotel in Austin, which opened in December 2010, offers one of the most unique, cozy and downright fun atmospheres I've seen in a Texas hotel in while.

Located in the Second Street District and right next to the world-famous Austin City Limits music venue, it's a good option if you're staying downtown.  We visited right after the Texas/Kansas basketball game, where my daughter got her first taste of her father's frustration with passion for all things UT sports. 

Despite the Longhorns 64-69 loss to the Jayhawks, it was a chamber of commerce day in the state capitol.  Perfect to sit outside and enjoy the patio.  We had done just that at the Austin outpost of Coal Vines and decided to enjoy the Living Room Bar inside the W Hotel.

Most W hotels feature the ubiquitous Living Room Bar.  Austin's offering was so cool because it's not just one big lounge.  It has four distinct rooms with each offering its own atmosphere.  Here are the descriptions from the hotel's website:

  • TEQUILA BAR  Plush seating areas in this room are plenty and offer great views of Lavaca Street.
  • RECORDS ROOM  The Records Room is a section of the Living Room which features over 8,000 vinyl records from a variety of artists: from Texas classics like Willie Nelson to worldwide sensations like The Beatles.
  • SECRET BAR The entire room is upholstered and illuminates a seductive ambiance, radiating the color red. The Secret Bar area of the Living Room opens at 4:30pm each day and includes its own bar area. One of the highlights of the Secret Room? A vintage McIntosh Sound System that rocks. 
  • SCREENED PORCH Views from the patio at Trace Restaurant Restaurant, oversized windows that let in the nightly breeze, a satellite bar and an intimate shared fireplace complete this luxury space. 
What a great, diverse scene.  In addition to the international gathering of patrons from all over the world was us: my husband Jim, my 27-year old brother Lance, my 14-month old Jordan and me.  We popped into a corner booth at the Secret Bar and had one of the best margaritas I've had in a long time.   We heard Spanish, Japanese and Russian all being spoken. 

As any parent knows, the little one wasn't one for sitting.  She visited almost every table in every room of the place.   A kid is truly the best icebreaker.  

The great thing about taking a toddler to a bar?  The changing tables are immaculate!  It was seriously one of the cleanest, most well stocked I've visited in a while.   I'm not usually a fan of staying at W Hotels or their lounge scene but this one is definitely worth your time. 

Here are some other great hotel options if you're visiting the Texas capitol:
  • Hotel San Jose - incredibly popular spot on South Congress offering a variety of rooms with the SoCo vibe to match.  The best thing?  The Jo's Coffee trailer in the parking lot. 
  • Omni Hotel - our choice for this getaway.  We were able to get a large suite for great price.  It's a total business hotel, not a ton of character but it works.  Great staff and fitness center.
  • Four Seasons  - fabulous location right on Lady Bird Lake.  It also has a wonderful lobby bar, great for political people watching.  It's lovely but not quite as luxe as other Four Seasons I've visited.  We had breakfast there on Saturday.  It was totally ordinary and insanely expensive.
  • Austin Motel - another South Congress indie fave.  Good location with a fun pool.  Definitely not luxe but a great affordable option.
  • Driskill Hotel - the grande dame of Austin hotels built in 1886 as the former abode of cattle baron Jesse Driskill.  This hotel has an awesome bar that just screams TEXAS.  The rooms are hit and miss.  I've stayed there and slept in a tiny room with a little queen bed while on another occasion had a spacious suite.  This is one hotel in which you have to really pay to play.  
  • Barton Creek Resort & Spa - good choice if you're looking for a getaway.  It's a solid half hour drive to the city from the resort so it's a better place to hunker down and enjoy a full-on retreat.  Nice spa, great hotel gift shop (LOVE a good hotel gift shop) and quality fitness center.
The one thing about a quickie getaway?  I'm already jonesing to get out of town again.  
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