From new construction to renovations of historic properties, Austin’s hotel scene is thriving. The long-awaited Hotel ZaZa opened downtown in September, and two stylish sister properties—the Otis and the AC hotels—opened near the University of Texas in February. In late spring, the highly anticipated Hotel Magdalena, from Bunkhouse Group (Hotel San José, El Cosmico), is scheduled to be ready for guests in the South Congress area. The hotel boom not only gives travelers to the capital more lodging choices, it also brings new restaurant and bar options to lucky locals. Here are three more hotels that are a win-win for Austinites and visitors alike.
Austin Proper Hotel & Residences
If you feel the gaze of someone (or something) as you approach the Austin Proper Hotel, in downtown’s Second Street District, it’s most likely the two 10-foot-tall owl sculptures perched at the entrance. Part of the city’s Art in Public Places program, Kempelen’s Owls are interactive statues; you can move their heads by turning a wheel hidden in each base. The wise birds are permanent greeters for the 244-room luxury hotel, the first Proper to open outside California. Step into the lobby and you might feel as if you’ve entered an actual work of art, complete with cozy sitting areas and a large sculptural wooden staircase accented with dozens of vintage carpets. It’s all the vision of internationally renowned interior designer Kelly Wearstler, who continues the craftsman feel in the guest rooms, with textured walls, patchwork throws, and local art. (Wearstler also designed the 99 luxury residences located above the guest rooms.) Back on the ground floor, the Proper’s main restaurant, the Peacock, serves Israeli- and Turkish-inspired fare. McGuire Moorman Hospitality, known for Austin favorites such as Jeffrey’s and Perla’s, oversees the Peacock, as well as all of the Proper’s food and drink offerings, including the intriguingly named Goldie’s Sunken Bar (which, alas, is for guests and residents only). Rates start at $350.
Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection
Surrounded by a stone wall, the historic Commodore Perry mansion and gardens, along Waller Creek and across from the 121-year-old Hancock Golf Course, have the ambience of a countryside retreat, but the property is right there on busy Red River and 41st streets—if you live in Austin, you’ve probably driven past it many times. The 10,800-square-foot Italianate manor, built in 1928, originally served as the country home for “Commodore” Edgar and Lutie Perry, who loved to entertain in true Roaring Twenties style. The Perrys later sold the estate, which, starting with St. Mary’s Academy, in 1947, became home to a succession of schools. The urban oasis is now ready for its next life when it opens in May as an upscale boutique hotel operated by California-based hospitality group Auberge Resorts Collection, known for high-end properties in locales such as Napa Valley, the Greek islands, and Fiji. The renovated mansion will serve as the entertainment hub of the resort, with dining and lounging options on the ground floor that will be open only to guests and members of the estate’s private club. The home’s original five bedrooms have been turned into themed suites, but the majority of visitors will stay in the Inn, a new three-story courtyard-style building behind the mansion with 42 guest rooms and 7 terrace suites outfitted by the Commodore’s interior designer, Ken Fulk. Softly curved ceilings, rough-hewn walls, and antique light fixtures give these spaces the same European-villa vibes as the main house. Also new to the grounds are an elegant pool, an organic farm, and, most importantly for locals, Lutie’s, a restaurant run by chef couple Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu, veterans of Austin’s Barley Swine and Odd Duck. They plan to offer seasonal lunch, dinner, and brunch menus featuring American fare with a Texas twist, as well as a beverage program heavy on local options. While enjoying your cocktail, you can gaze out at the gardens and fountains and toast the Roaring Twenties 2.0. Rates start at $583.
You won’t find a lobby at the 83-room Arrive Austin; instead guests check in at the bar, which seems appropriate for hip and hopping East Sixth Street. The hotel, which opened last summer, boasts industrial touches softened in the guest rooms by boho-chic wallpaper, throw rugs, and light-wood built-in beds. Locals have many reasons to hang out here, starting with Vixen’s Wedding, the Goan-inspired concept from chefs Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher, of celebrated Austin restaurant Lenoir. Set in a beautiful, bright space, the restaurant serves samosas and other small plates, and shareable entrées such as whole fish in green curry. Next door is the casual Lefty’s Brick Bar, which is housed in a hundred-year-old warehouse that Arrive preserved on the site during the construction of the hotel. Up on the roof, the Gin Bar offers more than ninety kinds of its namesake tipple. Order an Aviation and enjoy being above it all. Rates start at $169.
This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Room, Board, and More.” Subscribe today.