There’s Still quite a bit of time to kill before we head down to Austin for another SXSW. Nonetheless, we’re already dreaming of where we’ll post-up – and getting ahead on booking, because we’re responsible like that. As Austin is known for its progressive, authentic hipness and vibrant arts scene, settling for anything less than #woah just wouldn’t feel right.
These twelve boutique properties – picked by the travel pros at Tablet Hotels – offer authentic experiences across a sprawling spectrum of quirkiness. While most of these hotels are located around Austin, we’ve also included a few notable outliers in other cool parts of Texas. From a brewery-adjacent historic hotel to a five-room former bowling alley, each of these unique boutique hotels are worth booking a trip just to spend a night in one…
Hotel Saint Cecilia |
Austin, TX – This rehabilitated motel takes off running in the direction of “luxury guest house” and never really stops. Of course Austin-style luxury includes not just those wildly expensive Hästens handmade mattresses, but an in-house vintage vinyl library as well. Their blend of bold modern colors and impeccably curated antiques wouldn’t even register as upscale in Houston or Dallas; but here in Austin it’s clear at a glance that this is the place to stay.
Lone Star Court |
Austin, TX – This hotel set up like an old motor court would have been, with guest rooms set around a grassy central yard with a swimming pool. There’s plenty of outdoor space, including poolside lounge space, a series of fire pits, and the al fresco tables outside the Feed Store, the hotel’s very own food truck. Equally inviting are Lone Star Court’s quirky, colorful guest rooms. The look is Hill Country with a hipster twist.
Hotel Emma |
San Antonio, TX – Let it never be said that South Texans don’t know the meaning of luxury; besides Frette linens, Malin + Goetz bath amenities, and 48-inch HDTVs, a slew of tough-to-replicate 19th century touches elevate the experience far beyond the norm. Dark-wood and aged bronze accents. Freestanding, clawfoot tubs. Spanish porcelain. Mesquite-furnished terraces with Redondo tile. And a sordid, historical backstory worth researching (part of the fun when it comes to a spot as historically-rich as this.)
South Congress Hotel |
Austin, TX – Austin may no longer be quite as weird as it once was, but don’t throw in the towel just yet. Enter South Congress Hotel: In realizing its scope and purpose in the established “SoCo” neighborhood, Michael Hsu (architect) and MAI Studio (interior design) set out to accentuate, rather than quash, the character of their surroundings. It’s great as an all-in-one hotel, but don’t not forget that it’s the folks outside who make South Congress (the neighborhood) worth visiting in the first place.
Hotel Van Zandt |
Austin, TX – This hip boutique hotel feels like a place a blues-based alt-country rocker might stay with his entourage. It’s located downtown in the historic Rainey Street district, and the aesthetic is rustic with a refined twist, laid-back and masculine: natural wood, burnished brass, lived-in leather, cool lighting fixtures, modern art installations. The bar-restaurant specializes in craft beers and barbecued short ribs, and hosts live sets by local musicians every night.
Kimber Modern |
Austin, TX – Amidst the hustle and bustle of South Congress Avenue, an oasis of therapeutic efficiency awaits even the most harried traveler at the Kimber Modern. Striking a balance between local and global, Austin-based architects designed the Zen-like structure and local artists adorned its walls, finishing with understated international touches like Arne Jacobsen egg chairs and Euroluce light fixtures.
Camp Comfort |
Comfort, TX – This former bowling alley was established in 1901; thus it’s spared the utilitarian strip-mall style of the typical mid-century bowling alley, opting for something a bit more rustic and hand-made. Today they call it a “boutique bed and breakfast,” and they do not misspeak. Finely weathered wood is everywhere, brought to life by some colorful modern furniture. You wouldn’t mistake it for the Four Seasons, but the accommodations are perfectly comfortable, and quite large, to boot.
Hotel Havana |
San Antonio, TX – At almost 100 years old, the Havana was a bit of a landmark, and called for a sensitive approach for renovation — no stripping the place to the studs. The historical character of the building is still very much intact. And there’s a healthy dose of Cuban history as well — the Havana is shot through with a Hemingway-esque pre-Castro romance, especially in the cellar bar, long a notorious local nightspot.
The Heywood Hotel |
Austin, TX – Given the price point, it looks like the kind of place that could just as easily stack guests in bunk beds and make them share a bathroom. But in Austin’s keep-it-weird boutique hotel economy, a couple hundred bucks a night buys you big, sunny rooms with lofted ceilings, an internet jukebox, designer bath products and state-of-the-art beds. But Heywood’s greatest asset might be its location – just a few blocks from the convention center and smack in the middle of a neighborhood full of artists, eccentrics, excellent restaurants and local shops.
Hotel San Jose |
Austin, TX – Once a Thirties motor inn, this hotel in Austin’s authentically funky South Congress neighborhood has been renovated in a sort of Texas-Zen style, with bare concrete exterior walls under red tile roofs and crushed granite walkways traversing a courtyard garden planted with native vegetation. The rooms are a stripped-down modern style, with sparkling white bathrooms stocked with Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, writing desks with Eames side chairs, and not much else.
Belmont Hotel |
Dallas, TX – Dallas’s Belmont Hotel is a vintage 1946 motor inn (already a bit more architecturally distinguished than most) that’s been cleaned up and turned into what may be the hippest hotel in town, with creative, contemporary interiors and a hillside location that makes for a killer poolside view of the downtown Dallas skyline. Colors are contemporary, furnishings are comfortable and modern, and the amenities are perfectly up to date.
Hotel Derek |
Houston TX – Hotel Derek would easily hold its own against most of its swanky coastal cousins. This was the first independent boutique hotel in Houston, and its location in the shopping and entertainment district of Uptown sets it up as a nice alternative to the office towers and chain hotels downtown. The Sixties-inspired modernist décor lends it plenty of visual character — a look whose appeal is even wider in the post–Mad Men era.