A great hotel usually has a great story and in the case of Hotel Ella in Austin, the story unfolds in nearly every aspect of your stay. The name, Ella, refers to the stylish wife of Goodall Wooten, who was the son of one of the founders of the University of Texas. When the couple married they moved into this Greek Revival mansion and Ella hired Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus to redecorate the entire house. Wanting to preserve the soul of the original house, the new owners reached out to the Wooten family before opening the hotel in 2013. You’ll find old portraits of Ella and Goodall hanging on the walls as well as memorabilia such as a newspaper clipping of Goodall with his famous gun collection.
The owners hired an art curator to handpick permanent and rotating pieces to display in the 47 rooms and common spaces. You’ll find sculptures of Farrah Fawcett from Charles Umlauf, rare cityscapes from Ansel Adams, and portraits of famous Texans taken by photographer Matt Lankes. Make a point of visiting the sitting room to see Lankes’s shot of three of Texas’s most powerful women: liberal political columnist Molly Ivins, attorney Sarah Weddington, who represented Jane Roe in the landmark Roe v. Wade case, and Liz Carpenter, who served as press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson (above). To hear more stories about the art or the Wootens, pop into the wine lounge which is full of interesting artifacts and books. The bartender will share hilarious tales over a bottle of wine.