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Where to Stay Now 2016

Hotel Van Zandt


Photograph by Matthew Johnson

Austin is booming, as you’ve heard, and Rainey Street is the happening hood that best encapsulates the city’s sea change. The once-quiet residential stretch, which spoons I-35 near the banks of Lady Bird Lake just south of downtown, has become the kind of uber- (and Uber-) concentrated string of backyard bars and cocktail bungalows that fulfills visitors’ fantasies of a city shimmering with youthful vigor. And now those hopeful future Austinites can lay their heads—or just continue their booze cruise—at the Hotel Van Zandt, a sixteen-story, post-slacker utopia in the middle of it all. Here, living room–like nooks and deep leather couches double as co-working spaces. Just off the lobby, Cafe 605 sells homemade granola bars, quinoa salads, and Antone’s T-shirts. There are USB charging ports and Bluetooth speakers in the rooms, and the whole place is wired with super-speedy fiber-optic Internet connections. Meanwhile, free loaner bikes and doggy beds and cold beer at check-in are doled out like necessities. Though its name is also a nod to Republic of Texas diplomat Isaac Van Zandt, a generous hat tip is given to his great-great-grandson Townes and the homegrown music scene that influenced the talented troubadour. Go ahead and drop a Townes classic onto the record player in your suite or, at Geraldine’s, sip a Willie’s Cup (a whiskey, sage, and hemp-seed-milk cocktail wrapped in a red bandanna) while bands croon every night from the corner stage. The Van Zandt may be a harbinger of the “new” Austin, but it’s still a place where you can respectfully revel in the countercultural cool of the city’s bygone generations. Opened November 2015; 319 rooms; starting at $239; hotelvanzandt.com

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