A Greek Revival family mansion built at the turn of the 20th century, Hotel Ella owes both its name and its grandeur to its very first lady of the house, Ella Wooten. Known for her impeccable style and grand tastes, Ella was a fixture of Austin high society who hired the stone carver responsible for the Biltmore Estate to craft her house’s columns and verandas and worked with Neiman Marcus’ Stanly Marcus to redecorate the interiors in 1925.
Nowadays, Hotel Ella pays homage to her good taste with fashionably understated decor, a locally sourced restaurant, and an art collection that the original proprietress would have coveted. Works include original Ansel Adams photographs, Wooten family portraits and jewelry, and sculptures by local artist Charles Umlauf, the latter scattered throughout the hotel and poolside garden. The well-connected owners pride themselves on making guests feel just as pampered as Ella might have, with perks like a free town car service—even though the hotel is within walking distance of downtown—and a concierge team for whom no request is too much.
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Set on a busy street in a more residential area, Hotel Ella is just a few blocks from the University of Texas, and only slightly farther from the iconic Texas State Capitol and downtown Austin, but, for nighttime excursions and those who’d prefer a lift, the hotel offers a free town car service within a three-mile radius. Popular music venues like The Belmont fall within that range. The Blanton Museum of Art at the university, the sprawling Pease Park, and upscale barbecue joint and retro cocktail bar Freedmen's are all within walking distance.
Need to Know
Rooms: 47 rooms, 10 suites. From $229. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Named for the mansion’s original owner, Goodall’s Kitchen & Bar serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner—a menu of fresh classics that runs the gamut from chilaquiles to pan-seared salmon—in its unpretentious dining room, out on the column-lined veranda, or by the pool. Come cocktail hour, the glamorous parlor bar offers its menu of ‘Dr. Goodall’s Remedies and Prescriptions’—in other words, potent craft cocktails that take the edge off even the most searing Austin summer day—alongside tasty bites and an extensive international wine list. The half-price-drinks happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. daily is the perfect way to start an evening. Spa and gym details: The hotel does not have a spa, but it does have a 24-hour fitness center and an outdoor lap pool surrounded by cabanas and a sculpture garden.
Who's it best for: Austin aficionados who want to explore a new neighborhood, and couples looking for a luxurious getaway. The hotel also caters to business travelers. Our favorite rooms: On the second floor of the mansion house, the Mansion Petite Suite, Room 24, channels the historic elegance that the original owners intended with its French doors that open onto the columned veranda overlooking the lawn; order breakfast to the room for a serene start to the day. Expansive service: Hotel Ella prides itself on its above-and-beyond concierge service, which can get tickets to sold-out shows like Austin City Limits and secure reservations at the city’s hottest restaurants. For any excursions within three miles of the hotel—that includes downtown—a complimentary house car is available to drop guests at their destination.