Monday, June 18, 2012

Destinations: Austin Hotels

Austin is known for its music and arts scene, but it's the hotels in Austin that really caught my eye. Here are some of my favorites:

A small and relaxing pool area at Hotel San Jose.
Hotel San Jose: Just a few blocks south of where Lady Bird Lake bisects downtown Austin and South Congress lies Hotel San Jose. The bungalow-style hotel, which was originally built as a 1930s motor court, is housed behind stucco walls in the heart of South Congress - one of the city's trendiest neighborhoods. With just 40 rooms, it's a cozy and stylish alternative to some of downtown's big box hotels. Hotel San Jose is within steps of the original Jo's Coffee (home to delicious breakfast tacos!) and Hop Doddy's, where I gulped down a Nutella-pretzel milkshake.

A room at Hotel San Jose.

Robes and room accents add bright pops of color at Hotel San Jose.

From inside the walls of Hotel Saint Cecilia, a view at the residential street.

Hotel Saint Cecilia: Across and down the street from Hotel San Jose is its ritzier sister property, Hotel Saint Cecilia. I'm a fan of Hotel San Jose's shabby-chic vibe, but I could live at Hotel Saint Cecilia. Its location on a tree-lined residential block and the key card-activated gate reminds me of an exclusive Beverly Hills home. Except instead of housing a Hollywood starlet, Hotel Saint Cecilia houses some of the friendliest staff and most unique accommodations Austin has to offer. Built in the 1800s, Hotel Saint Cecilia started as a small bed & breakfast. The 14 rooms have a very comfortable, homey feel and some (mostly in the new building) afford pretty spectacular views of downtown.

Hotel Saint Cecilia's restaurant and patio.
Fun details at Hotel Saint Cecilia.
The Driskill: Back in downtown, The Driskill hotel - Austin's oldest building - is known for a colorful and somewhat creepy history. The ghost of cattle baron Jesse Driskill, who constructed the hotel in 1886, is said to haunt its hallways. Though, to be honest, "haunt" sounds a bit harsh. According to hotel staff and guests, all the guy ever really asks for is a light for his cigar. The Driskill is a landmark in Texas and a must-visit if you're a history nut. I could spend hours just walking around and staring at its paintings and photos. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awaited election results in The Driskill's Jim Hogg room. The restaurant's piano is centuries old. Governors like Dan Moody held their inaugural balls here. It's that kind of hotel.

The Driskill's grand lobby.

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