Hotel Saint Cecilia, Austin

Hotel Saint Cecilia, Austin
Photograph by Casey Dunn

Is that Mick Jagger taking an evening swim? It’s hard to tell in the glow of the neon “SOUL” sign that illuminates the tree-lined pool at this coolly decadent boutique hotel, but spotting rock royalty here is about as surprising as encountering a lion while on safari in the Serengeti. Lushly landscaped and well hidden even though it’s only a block off touristy South Congress Avenue, the Saint Cecilia is an ideal urban hideout, whether you’re dodging paparazzi or your preschoolers. Each of the rooms—there are five suites in a white-clapboard Victorian house, three studios, and six poolside bungalows—are stocked with “basics” like Geneva sound systems hooked up to turntables and handcrafted Hästens beds swaddled in expensive Rivolta Carmignani cotton sheets. In the moody lounge, which is open only to guests, a stuffed white peacock presides over the black marble-topped bar, where you can order the signature Two Saints cocktail (gin, St-Germain, and Topo Chico with orange) and a $32 cheese and charcuterie plate. Though there’s enough booze and snacks (buttered caramels, duck rillette, bison jerky) in the minibar to live off for at least a week, lunch and dinner have to be procured elsewhere. When a sudden evening downpour botched my plan to walk to a nearby restaurant, the hotel clerk graciously ordered a pizza for my companion and me. When it arrived, I put on the Bill Withers record we’d checked out from the lending library of vintage LPs, and we had a candle-lit picnic on the Turkish kilim rug in our suite. The next morning, after an in-room breakfast of crepes and sausage and Bloody Marys, I said a prayer to Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, asking her to gift me with the rights to even one Rolling Stones song so I could afford to stay in this heaven for the rest of my life.  112 Academy Drive, 512-852-2400,  hotelsaintcecilia.com 

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