As one of the oldest buildings in sleepy Travis Heights, the Dutch Colonial–meets-Revival-meets–Craftsman house that now holds the Gateway Guesthouse has long held a place of honor on Riverside Drive in Austin, looking out at the nearby Colorado River. When Bess Giannakakis and Blaise Bahara left Bess’ restaurant and moved from Minneapolis to Austin, they faithfully renovated the private home and, in 2010, turned it into the most welcoming and hospitable bed and breakfast in town. Elaborate gourmet breakfasts, made with fresh, local ingredients, highlight the city’s renowned food scene, and no stay at the guesthouse would be complete without one of Bess’ expert cooking classes.
With lively South Congress and downtown Austin both within walking distance, the B&B is a relaxed haven. The swimming pool and quiet yard are a welcome respite in the hotter months, and homey rooms promise a good night’s sleep after a day of exploring.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
Practically across the street from the Colorado River Boardwalk, in residential Travis Heights, the guesthouse offers a local’s Austin experience. Both trendy South Congress Avenue and the restaurant- and music-venue–packed Downtown are a 10- to 15-minute walk away, although, with free parking at the B&B, the rest of the city is within easy driving distance. Popular nearby activities include canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake and watching the largest urban bat colony in North America take off at sunset from the Congress Avenue Bridge.
Need to Know
Rooms: Six rooms, including one apartment, three suites, and two rooms. From $285. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: One of the hosts, Bess, was a restaurant chef for many years, and her Minneapolis restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so food is a main event at the Gateway Guesthouse. Breakfast is included and is a gourmet affair each morning, running the gamut from egg sandwiches on homemade focaccia to Bess’ signature brie and walnut pancakes. Taking a cooking class here is practically de rigueur; in addition to 17 different classes, Bess also offers a cook-and-dine option where she’ll work with guests to create an ideal menu and even lead a shopping trip to local organic farms. Spa and gym details: As a private home, the B&B has neither a spa nor a gym, but there is a swimming pool with a hot tub in the backyard, surrounded by plenty of lounge chairs, and the popular lakeside running trail is practically across the street.
Who's it best for: Foodie couples interested in a more personalized travel experience. Our favorite rooms: The Carriage House apartment allows for a more independent experience, with an eat-in kitchen, laundry facilities, and separate entrance. In the same building, behind the main house, the Loft and Studio suites have the best of both worlds, with separate entrances and private decks—the former in the garden, the latter overlooking the pool—where breakfast can be served. Local resource: Ask Blaise and Bess for restaurant recommendations. As delicious as the food at their house is, the innkeepers also know all the best restaurants in town and delight in helping guests arrange culinary experiences.