The spirit of Austin is best embodied in its local businesses, so it should come as no surprise that the most memorable hotel experiences won't be had at the megachains. Standing above the pack is the iconic Hotel San José, a national treasure of retro industrial chic; for many well-off hipsters it's the only place to stay, now and forever more. But you needn't be so single-minded in your hotel choice. The Driskill, the city's other independent giant, is the aesthetic opposite of its quirky counterparts south of the river. But its opulent Wild West feel is just as finely realized. Between those poles are shabby-chic spots in the South Congress neighborhood like the 1950s-style Austin Motel and the more conventional downtown chains like the Four Seasons. The downtown hotels tend to be the province of business travelers and conventions, but as such are apt to have the most updated amenities. Joining their ranks within the next few years will be a new Marriott and a W. A few tips: If you'd prefer not to rent a car, choose a hotel south of 12th Street or north of the river. And unless you're staying at the Driskill, avoid eating at your hotel at all costs.