The Best Hotels in Austin

Home to a vibrant music scene, innovative restaurants, incredible green spaces, and events like SXSW, Austin also boasts a number of great hotels, from boutique gems with swimming pools to upscale chains overlooking Lady Bird Lake. Choose something on trendy South Congress Avenue, in the hipster haven of East Austin, or within walking distance of infamous Sixth Street and get ready to experience Texas’s capital of cool.

98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701, USA
Set right on the banks of Lady Bird Lake as it passes downtown, the Four Seasons Hotel Austin performs the impressive juggling act of feeling like both a glamorous city stay and a picturesque, elegant resort. On one side is Live Oak, a local hot spot for live music, on the other the sun-lounger–lined saltwater pool that looks out over the sprawling lawn and the lake beyond. This outdoorsy-meets-hip dichotomy is part of what defines Austin, and the hotel is right at the heart of it: Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail is the closest of many urban trails, and the food trucks and record stores of the trendy Downtown and Bouldin Creek neighborhoods are within walking distance—a rarity in this expansive city.

A Hill Country–inspired spa and Latin restaurant draw locals, while elegant rooms (updated in 2017) with lake views and signature Four Seasons service—think seasonal lemonade or hot apple cider on arrival and s’mores (weather permitting) on the back patio—make stays extra special.
1609 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702, USA
One of Austin’s top boutique hotels—and among the first in the trendy East Austin neighborhood—the Heywood Hotel feels more like an achingly cool designer friend’s house than a hotel, and in the best possible way. The husband-and-wife team renovated and expanded upon a 1920s Craftsman bungalow and outfitted each room with his handmade furniture, and art and textiles by local artisans. They also added the most comfortable beds they could find, Kevin Murphy’s Kakadu plum hair products, and Internet jukeboxes (a necessity in music-loving Austin). No, there isn’t a restaurant, or even a bar, but there’s a front porch and a courtyard patio where you could eat local snacks, sip beers, or try “Heywood blend” coffee. Complimentary bicycles are available, and a team of local experts on staff who have an endless supply of suggestions for drinking, dining, and exploring in the up-and-coming neighborhood—just like a friend would.
1900 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX 78705, USA
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 and Wooten family portraits and jewelry. The 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.
112 Academy Dr, Austin, TX 78704, USA
A compound-like hideaway on a leafy street a block from trendy South Congress Avenue, Hotel Saint Cecilia is a retro-glam love letter to the 1960s and ‘70s rock music scene, named for the patron saint of music and poetry. But that doesn’t mean that rock stars smash guitars and throw ragers here (unless they rent out all 14 rooms, of course); unlike at its nearby sister properties, Hotel San José and Austin Motel, only guests and club members are welcome at the lounge, a laid-back affair with a Parisian-café–style patio, chesterfield sofas and a fireplace indoors, and craft cocktails and gourmet small plates. Between the 1888 Victorian main house—originally inhabited by a descendent of Davy Crockett—and verdant grounds that hide private porches and a serene pool, the hotel feels more like an impossibly stylish artists’ retreat than a celebrity getaway.

Each distinctively decorated room is larger than many an apartment, and seems ripped from the pages of a fashion magazine photoshoot. Every detail has been thought through, from the refreshing Grown Alchemist body care products to the Swedish Hästens mattresses (the hotel is the only one in North America with them in all rooms) to the impressive library of LPs to borrow. Everyone’s a rock star, here.
1316 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Hailed as one of the country’s first true boutique hotels, Hotel San José started its life as a 1930s tourist court and became a 1950s roadside motel before falling into disrepair in a bad part of town. In the mid-1990s, Liz Lambert bought it and transformed it into a minimalist, mid-century–inspired hot spot, the first of her distinctive Bunkhouse hotels, and the South Congress neighborhood changed with it. Although it’s now a must-visit for out-of-town hipsters (and its bar a hangout for trendy locals), the hotel stays true to its roots; a majority of the furniture was made by local artisans from reclaimed wood and Texas leather, the three most affordable rooms have a shared bath, and Lambert’s experience renovating the hotel and contributing to the neighborhood’s gentrification prompted her to make the documentary The Last Days of the San Jose.

Nowadays, SoCo is Austin’s hottest neighborhood, and Hotel San José is in the heart of the action, hosting local and touring bands in its courtyard and parking lot, and offering some of the city’s best coffee at Jo’s, its affiliated café. Plan to spend at least one evening making new friends over Shiner Bocks at the long tables in the courtyard lounge.
605 Davis St, Austin, TX 78701, USA
Named for country music legend Townes Van Zandt and located on Rainey Street, just steps away from some of Austin’s most legendary live venues, the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt strikes a mellifluous note from the moment you step through the doors. The chandeliers in the lobby are crafted from French horns, an installation in the lounge features birds made from vinyl records, and the cabana-lined pool deck pumps tunes underwater. The 319 guest rooms act as a soothing counterpoint to late-night jam sessions, with Frette linens and views of downtown and Lady Bird Lake. For the ultimate in relaxation, opt for one of the spa suites, which include oversized bathrooms and deep soaking tubs. When you’re not blissing out in your room or partying the night away, the hotel’s fleet of loaner bikes await to take you on a tour of the city.
1705 S Quinlan Park Rd, Austin, TX 78732, USA
In the heart of Texas Hill Country, on a serene section of the Colorado River, the famously luxurious Lake Austin Spa Resort might be just half an hour from Austin’s city center, but it feels miles away from anywhere, an oasis surrounded by ruggedly beautiful wilderness. And that’s intentional: the destination spa caters to every need and whim, offering a daily calendar of outdoor activities and educational talks and classes and serving healthy and locally-sourced cuisine. Spa treatments are not included in the rate—which, it’s worth noting, starts at a three-night minimum stay—but use of the spa’s three pools and other pampering facilities are, and it’d be a shame not to sample at least one of its more than 100 natural treatments.

But the best part about the resort is that, once you’re there, no one cares what you do. Take advantage of the packed schedule and spa offerings, or just claim a poolside lounger, take a walk along the lake, or read a book in the fragrant organic garden. Relaxation means something different to everyone, after all.
1603 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Housed in a low-rise building on one of Austin’s trendiest streets, the South Congress Hotel is much more than just a place to stay. The boutique hotel is practically a neighborhood unto itself, complete with everything from stores and a nail salon to two restaurants, a coffee shop, and an all-day café. Done up in denim, leather, concrete, and wood, the 83 guest rooms feature Matteo bed linens, rainfall showers, and Apple TVs, plus fun extras like C.O. Bigelow bath products, Finery LA robes, and locally sourced minibars. Guests even enjoy exclusive streaming access to more than 40 movies from Drafthouse Films, a production company based in Austin. For when—if ever—visitors want to leave their rooms, the hotel also features a rooftop pool and bar, as well as a prime location near some of the city’s coolest shops, restaurants, and music venues, which are easily reached thanks to amenities like BMW X5 house car service and Faraday electric bike rentals.
604 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701, USA
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.
111 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701, USA
Austin has established itself as a foodie destination on par with New York and Los Angeles. Now, it also has a hotel that’s worthy of its rebirth as a capital of cool. At The LINE, the setting is as pretty as the young things who stay there with their stylish pets. The midcentury building houses 428 rooms and suites inspired by the Lone Star landscape, with headboards that evoke desert canyons, blue linens and rugs that nod to Lady Bird Lake (which many of the rooms overlook through expansive floor-to-ceiling windows), and lighting that looks like fireflies in the night sky. The place to be seen is Arlo Grey, where Top Chef winner Kristen Kish serves a menu inspired by her childhood, travels, and Central Texas ingredients—that is until the rooftop bar debuts in fall 2018.
101 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701, USA
As Austin has grown, so has the city’s hotel needs—as evidenced by this super-sized Fairmont, opened in 2018. Connected to the Austin Convention Center via direct access, the 37-story tower houses 1,048 rooms, ranging from spacious standard options with city, park, or lake views to suites with separate living, dining, or entertaining areas. Enjoy touches like signature pillow-top mattresses, Le Labo products, work desks, and plenty of charging hubs in all, or upgrade to the Fairmont Gold level for access to a well-stocked 35th-floor lounge, among other perks. With all that space, the Fairmont is able to offer lots of resort-level amenities, too, including a seventh-floor deck with a seasonally heated pool and 13 cabanas, ample meeting and conference facilities, and downtown’s largest spa, with nine treatments rooms, an expansive gym, a full-service salon, steam and sauna areas, and more. Multiple dining options—including the Garrison grill, indoor–outdoor Rules & Regs, and food hall-style Revue, serving an array of global flavors—draw locals as well as hotel guests, as does the lobby level Fulton, where drinks are served against a backdrop of live music.
400 Josephine St, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Why we love it: A conveniently located stay offering high design and low-key charm

The Highlights:
- Striking design with handcrafted furnishings
- Welcoming neighborhood vibe
- Great drinking and dining from an acclaimed F&B team

The Review:
You’d never guess that several hospitality heavy hitters were involved in this low-key, boutique spot—and that’s just the way they want it. Developed by former Ace Hotel group co-owner Jack Barron and architect Jen Turner—the husband-and-wife duo behind the Mighty Union hotel group—the hotel is set in the former Local 1266 Carpenters Union Hall, tucked among a grove of pecan trees just off South Lamar Boulevard. In a nod to those carpenters, a maker aesthetic runs strong throughout the property, from the warm woods and plush leathers to the handcrafted furnishings and woven textiles. Rooms are unfussy and sparsely furnished but comfortable, with a sort of friend’s guest room feel; they come in queen, double, and king options, all with blackout shades, low-slung seating, and terraces.

Down in the public areas, locals and guests meet for coffee in the lounges, grab kolaches or tacos in the Hot L Café, or head to the Carpenter Hall restaurant for elevated yet casual meals under the direction of chef Grae Nonas, co-founder of Austin’s much-lauded Olamaie. (More on the big-name front: Mighty Union’s F&B program is overseen by another husband-and-wife team, Christina Skogly Knowlton and Andrew Knowlton—the latter an editor-at-large for Bon Appetit and host of Netflix’s The Final Table.) A sparkling courtyard pool is also on-site for cooling off after an Austin scorcher.
1108 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702, USA
Why we love it: A hipster hotspot that’s as stylish as it is affordable

- A range of room types for all travelers
- Local hangouts like the on-site diner and pool bar
- A prime location in one of Austin’s coolest neighborhoods

The Review:
While locals are committed to keeping Austin weird, there’s nothing strange about the new East Austin Hotel, a soon-to-be hipster haunt where millennial pink accents and midcentury chic mix with details that embody the city’s independent spirit. Here, guests find a variety of accommodations to suit all types of travelers, from cabin rooms with shared bathrooms to poolside suites with private balconies, but all feature Scandi-inspired furnishings and quirky touches like turtle-shaped ottomans, Moroccan pillows, and retro Victrola radios.

Vintage pendants hang over the bar at on-site restaurant Sixth & Waller, a self-described “global diner” that serves international comfort food like family-style latkes, chicken-fried steak, and mango cream pie. Equally stylish is The Upside, a rooftop bar with cocktails inspired by the Caribbean and Central and South America, and Pool Bar, which welcomes both guests and locals with frozen drinks and Instagram-friendly dishes like gochujang queso and jackfruit bánh mi. The hotel also boasts a stylish gift shop with local gifts like handcrafted ceramics and leather goods, but if you’d rather venture out, stop by the concierge desk and grab a curated map that highlights neighborhood hotspots with live music, authentic food, and more.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
National Parks