Austin’s very own grand dame, this landmark hotel opened in 1886 as the city’s first iconic hotel, both a testament to and display of the success of cattle baron Jesse Driskill, who wanted to build his beloved frontier town a palace to rival those in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. The city fared better than Mr. Driskill did; financial troubles forced him to sell the hotel just two years after opening, and he died of a stroke just another two years later. After some initial ups and downs, his hotel ultimately flourished, housing a rotating cast of Texas elite and hosting important political events in Austin—in particular, gubernatorial inaugural balls—in the 20th century. President Lyndon Johnson had an especially close relationship with the hotel, from his first date with his wife to awaiting presidential re-election results in one of the suites.
Multimillion-dollar renovations in 2008 restored the hotel to its original grandeur, maintaining its historic charm alongside all the amenities of a modern luxury hotel. Brave guests might request a room on the reportedly haunted fifth floor. And, no stay at the Driskill is complete without a cocktail in the elegant Driskill Bar, where cattle, oil, or railroad barons would still fit in.