City Guide: Austin, Texas

Giant guitar sculptures and local musicians provide a larger-than-life greeting for visitors touching down in Austin airport, aptly setting the scene for a trip to the most liberal city in Texas. Something of a misnomer in the conservative South, this cowboy capital has all the chaps-wearing charm of American hill country served up with a free-spirited mindset.

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Hotel Saint Cecilia

Austin, United States

Inspired by the eclectic musical pulse of Austin, Hotel Saint Cecilia was named in honour of the patron saint of music and poetry. Combining luxurious accommodation with vintage style, it pays homage to the swinging Sixties and the groovy Seventies.

Address

112 Academy Drive TX 78704

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Hotel Van Zandt

Austin, United States

Named after the cult Texan singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt, this elegant yet hyperactive hotel celebrates Austin’s musical past and present. Hotel Van Zandt presides over Rainey Street, a small web of wood-panelled houses converted into stylish bars and music venues. Antique rocking chairs sway back and forth on the front porches and the interior is sleek and mature – from the glitzy, industrial-style concierge awash with golds, bronzes and grey brick to the simple palettes and clean lines of the 319 rooms. The suites are dotted with record players, and many have sweeping views of the Colorado River. Opened in 2016, the hotel has already become an entertainment destination in its own right. Employees press a cold beer into your hand upon arrival, before pointing you in the direction of the lobby, which is filled with comfy sofas, a roaring fireplace and a sculpture of a flock of birds crafted from old records. Van Zandt has invested millions in lighting and sound systems, which play in every corner, including the hotel restaurant and live music venue Geraldine’s, and the outdoor pool (where the tunes play underwater).

Address

605 Davis Street TX 78701

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South Congress Hotel

Austin, United States

This eye-wateringly beautiful boutique hotel lives slap bang in the middle of South Congress, the treasured drag of cowboy boot stores, vintage shops and iconic taquerias. Somewhere between a Harajuku concept store, a Hollywood mansion and a Tribeca loft, this sumptuous space houses three restaurants: a 12-seat, impossible-to-get-into Japanese multi-course experience, an extremely sexy grill and a California-inspired café. There’s a rooftop pool overlooking downtown Austin, a coffee and a juice bar, a New York nail salon, a huge bar area and a bevy of unique bedrooms, some with adult-sized bunk beds. The entire hotel is decked out with greenery and reclaimed furniture, with eye-catching bronze, glass and brick walls.

Address

1603 South Congress Avenue TX 78704

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Lake Austin Spa Resort

Austin, United States

Set on seven hectares of lush forest overlooking the Colorado river, this spa oasis is so idyllic it will be hard to resist staying overnight. Over 100 therapy options are offered across 30 treatment areas. We recommend embarking on the Tour of Texas: an exfoliating scrub of prickly pear, followed by an agave-nectar body wrap and full-body massage. Don’t miss aqua Zumba in the pool barn and floating water meditation as part of its Wellness of Water program which boasts over 30 water-based fitness classes.

Address

12611 Riverbend Road 78732

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Austin Motel

The roadside Austin Motel sits just south of the Colorado River and Downtown and gives us serious Great American Road Trip longing every time we think of it. Pull in – you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the phallic-shaped sign – and head straight for the pool, considered by many as the best in town. Lounge on white lawn furniture, surrounded by cacti and with a chilled Austin Eastciders in hand.

Address

1220 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, United States

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Native Hostel

Situated in an 1890s railroader hotel and adjoining a mid-century warehouse, this new hostel is a combination of comfortable beds (but late nights), live music and slow-cooked barbecue – exactly what you want from a trip to Austin. Native aims to break the mould of hospitality by offering guests a culture of affordable yet noteworthy travel in the city renowned for its music and craft-beer scene. The design channels a Texan farmhouse with rough-hewn limestone walls and retro-inspired hotel lounge, while the rooms feature wooden, hand-crafted bunkbeds with privacy curtains, Persian rugs and leather stools. Aside from the bar and kitchen serving food from early until late, the accommodation has an on-site coffee shop and parlour with space for co-working.

Address

807 East 4th Street Austin TX 78702