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Austin Hotels

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Austin Motel
1220 S. Congress Avenue
Austin , Texas
78704
Tel: 512 441 1157
reservations@austinmotel.com
www.austinmotel.com

The motto of this family-owned, 1950s-style motel says it all: "So close, yet so far out." Long favored by cost-conscious artists and musicians, it's charming and hip without feeling pretentious. Each of the rooms mixes colorful murals and funky antiques, but be forewarned that the shabby-chic look leans more toward the shabby. And true to its retro vibe, the motel lacks highfalutin amenities like televisions and internet access (thankfully you can get free Wi-Fi in much of the city to make up for it). Still, with room rates hovering at $100, it's one of the best values in the city. It's also located at a crossroads of hipster hangouts: across the river from downtown, down the block from the eclectic South Congress shopping district, and kitty-corner from the legendary Continental Club, where favorite son Stevie Ray Vaughan frequently played.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Barton Creek Resort & Spa
8212 Barton Club Drive
Austin , Texas
78735
Tel: 866 572 7369 (toll-free)
Tel: 512 329 4000
stay@bartoncreek.com
www.bartoncreek.com

Visitors who'd prefer nocturnal solitude over the late-night rowdiness of downtown Austin should consider this tranquil resort on 4,000 acres of gorgeous Texas Hill Country about 20 minutes from downtown Austin. It's a golfer's paradise, where renowned coach Chuck Cook can fix your swing in the morning and let you test out the results in the afternoon on one of the four top-flight courses, including two Tom Fazio designs. In June 2010 the resort opened the Three Springs Spa, where guests can relax with treaments like a Mexican chocolate cayenne scrub. The property also includes 11 lighted tennis courts plus separate indoor and outdoor pools. Most of the 303 rooms are spacious, if unremarkable-looking, with views of the surrounding rolling hills; the 18 Texas-size suites are worth the upgrade for the plush leather armchairs and private balconies overlooking one of the courses. The Ben Crenshaw suite, at 1,800 square feet, including a dining room, 42-inch plasma TV, and whirlpool tub, is the granddaddy of the bunch. Skip the overpriced, overrated restaurant, however.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Driskill Hotel
604 Brazos Street
Austin , Texas
78701
Tel: 800 252 9367 (toll-free)
Tel: 512 474 5911
Fax: 512 474 2214
www.driskillhotel.com

Named for the cattle baron who built it in 1886, this grand four-story mansion is an old-world sanctuary set smack in the heart of boisterous Sixth Street. The historic ambience—LBJ once holed up here awaiting election results—is established by the soaring stained-glass dome in the lobby. A 2008 renovation combined the new with the old in the 189 guest rooms: a Victorian-style settee is upholstered with modern graphic fabric, nailhead-trimmed leather furniture is a nod to Texas ranches. The bar is decked out in comfy leather chairs, low lighting, warm wood, and—of course—cowhide; and you're likely to see quite a few locals rubbing elbows with out-of-towners. Other modern touches include high-speed Internet, a fitness center, and a spa, making it a civilized base for sampling the vitality of the surrounding neighborhood. From one of the balconies overlooking Sixth, you'll spot several restaurants, but you won't find one in the neighborhood better than the Driskill Grill.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Four Seasons Hotel Austin
98 San Jacinto Boulevard
Austin , Texas
78701
Tel: 512 478 4500
Fax: 512 478 3117
www.fourseasons.com/austin

Think cowhide can't be classed up? Try camping out in the Southwestern-themed Four Seasons for a few days. The primo downtown location on the banks of Lady Bird Lake puts you near both the trendy Warehouse District and the convention center, but many guests stick close, descending from their rooms for an afternoon by the fireplace on the hide-covered sofas or ordering drinks from the VIP-heavy bar ("Was that Matthew McConaughey toting a bongo?"). The 291 rooms have goose-down pillows, full-size desks, and oversize armchairs. (The Congressional Suite has a wraparound terrace.) From March through October, ask for a terrace room overlooking the Congress Avenue bridge, so you can watch the bat colony fill the sky at sunset. But any time of the year is ideal for savoring a wine flight at the bar-restaurant's lovely outdoor patio by the lake.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Hotel Saint Cecilia
112 Academy Drive
Austin , Texas
78704
Tel: 512 852 2400
www.hotelsaintcecilia.com

Liz Lambert, the hotelier behind Austin's iconic Hotel San José (on South Congress Avenue, just three blocks away), handpicked every detail of her new 14-room gem, an inspired union of old-world decadence and rock 'n' roll cool. In the revamped Victorian mansion, silky drapes and giant chandeliers contrast with Verner Panton lamps and Gaetano Pesce UP5 chairs; in the modern poolside bungalows, retro Spanish film posters and sky-blue tile create a Mediterranean vibe. Pleasingly fussy elements such as monogrammed bed linens and a breakfast tray that arrives with crêpes and a silver tea set are tempered with photos of The Beatles and Hunter S. Thompson and a turntable in every room. In the library, guests can flip through vintage vinyl, DVDs, poetry, and biographies—almost all related to the music and literature of the '60s and '70s. The lounge serves a charcuterie plate and cocktails and stays open until midnight, something that could be a problem if you're trying to sleep in a nearby room—it can get loud on weekend nights.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel San José
1316 S. Congress Avenue
Austin , Texas
78704
Tel: 800 574 8897
Tel: 512 444 7322
info@sanjosehotel.com
www.sanjosehotel.com

An eternal favorite among tourists and locals alike, the Hotel San José epitomizes Austin cool from the vintage music posters on the walls to the typewriters and Polaroid cameras on hand to help you capture the experience. Room decor is some of the most tasteful around—simple, modern, and tastefully retro with Bertoia side chairs and platform beds. You won't be as pampered as you would at one of the city's froufier hotels, but that's not the point here. Instead you'll get a true taste of local color. Pull up a chair in the courtyard, and join the neighborhood types for nightly happy hours. The location, on the hippest block of South Congress Avenue, puts you within easy stumbling distance of the legendary Continental Club, where you can party all night to live music, and the equally legendary Jo's Coffee, where you can rejuvenate the next morning.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa
575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road
Cedar Creek , Texas
Tel: 512 308 1234
lostpines.hyatt.com

Enclosed by forested hills in McKinney Roughs Nature Park, this 492-room newcomer is a refreshingly remote adventure getaway 20 minutes from downtown Austin. The hotel's exterior is reminiscent of a nineteenth-century Texas farmhouse, with deep front porches and balconies, but the interior departs from this idiom, with a glass-walled lobby and dual fireplaces framing the view of a tidied-up Colorado River. While the service is excellent and the spacious rooms are tastefully done, the focus here is on the exhaustive array of activities: three pools (one with a kids' water slide and crooked river), 16 miles of hiking trails, on-site horseback riding, kayaking, tennis, and a golf course just steps from the lobby. The Spa Django integrates music into its body treatments, and off the lobby there's a faux country store from which you can buy snacks to stock your in-room fridge.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Kimber Modern
110 The Circle
Austin , Texas
78704
Tel: 512 912 1046
info@kimbermodern.com
www.kimbermodern.com

Tucked away behind Amy's, Austin's famous ice cream parlor, is the Kimber Modern, a four-room, one-suite bed-and-breakfast that could pass for the love child of Philippe Starck and MoMA architect Yoshio Taniguchi. Owners Kimber Cavendish and Vicki Faust have created a quiet, modernist oasis just off Austin's main drag, where a stay is as relaxing as a day at a spa. The minimalist guest rooms in white and light wood have floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto a spacious patio with brightly colored lounge chairs and hammocks made of recycled seat belts. This leafy veranda is where a lot of communing happens, including the afternoon "happy hour" (with wine and beer on offer from 3 to 8 pm). The soundproof rooms have thoughtfully selected details, like eccentric Austin guidebooks; toiletries (La Fresh Travel Wipes, Malin+Goetz bath products) that you wish you had at home; and vibrant paintings by local artists Martha Gannon and Valerie Fowler, which add a splash of color to the neutral decor. Don't miss the delicious breakfast in the Kimber Modern's common open-kitchen area, including a banana bread made from a family recipe.—Carolina Santos-Neves

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Lake Austin Spa Resort
1705 S. Quinlan Park Road
Austin , Texas
78732
Tel: 800 847 5637 (toll-free)
Tel: 512 372 7300
www.lakeaustin.com

The lakefront, limestone "Hill Country rustic retreat in a tranquil, green, hilly area" used to be a training camp for rodeo cowboys and clowns. Meals at the Dining Room and Aster Café in the spa include a "watermelon gazpacho and key lime pie I still dream about. A wizard was at work in the kitchen!" Others laud the casual atmosphere: "It was nice eating in the cafe without worrying about being in our spa robes and having no makeup on." "Warm and inviting" rooms overlook the lake and have deep-soaking tubs, and "sheets so soft, they were like butter." "Spa employees are very welcoming."

(40 rooms)

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Mansion at Judges' Hill
1900 Rio Grande
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 495 1800
Tel: 800 311 1619
Fax: 512 495 1869
www.mansionatjudgeshill.com

This historic revival mansion was a wedding present from an Austin physician to his son in 1900; in 2002 it was renovated and opened as a boutique hotel. The 48 individually decorated rooms marry old-world charm—oil paintings, intricate woodwork, antique armoires—with less-visible modern comforts like high-thread-count sheets and Wi-Fi. Some rooms come with nonfunctioning fireplaces (hey, they look nice), which works well with the romantic atmosphere. After all, the clientele is largely couples doing a one-on-one getaway or visiting their kids at the University of Texas, which is a short stroll away. The restaurant, also called Judges' Hill, serves modern dishes such as duck confit quesadilla and cider-glazed quail in a sumptuous setting that lends itself to lengthy multicourse meals and over-the-table hand-holding.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
W Hotel Austin
200 Lavaca Street
Austin , Texas
78701
Tel: 512 542 3600
Fax: 512 542 3625
www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3224

Instead of embracing Lone Star iconography like so many other local institutions (either ironically or otherwise), the aggressively urban W lives by an anything-but-Western imperative. Apparently that also means anything goes. Various design elements feel Asian (scarlet floral wallpaper), classic (deeply coffered ceilings), and retro (the lobby bar's shelves of LP albums and a McIntosh stereo system with turntable and reel-to-reel player). Though occasionally jarring, this mashup adds a giddy freshness. The 251 guest rooms provide more coherent comfort, with shades of gray setting off bold strokes of color such as an arrangement of turquoise glasses under a spotlight or a red serpentine banquette beside the picture window. In addition to the good looks there are some brains—there's a recycling sorting system, and on the bedside, a box of chargers for most any device. The hospitality is authentically Texan, with staff oozing attentiveness. The restaurant, Trace, has a "cuisine with a conscience" menu that emphasizes locally produced ingredients. Along with cauliflower foam and a crispy bone marrow salad are good meat selections (this being cattle country), including red-wine-braised short ribs and rib-eye with wild mushrooms.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.