Austin has a reputation for not conforming to the rest of Texas. It’s known for its food, progressive politics, music scene, and the iconic South By Southwest film festival. Thanks to the culmination of these hip and trendy features, Austin is quickly becoming a go-to tourist spot for many Americans. But before you book a trip to Austin, where should you stay?
With over 180 years of history, Austin is home to several beautiful and famous historic hotels. You can stay in motels that harken back to the mid-century, luxurious historic homes, boutique hotels, or even a hotspot for politicians and celebrities alike. You just have to know where to stay.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to five of the most famous hotels in Austin, Texas, and guide you through what makes them so special. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
The Driskill, in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt
When cattle baron Jesse Driskill built his eponymous Driskill Hotel in 1886, it was one of the most expensive buildings in the state, costing $400,000—the equivalent of $92 million in today’s money. Driskill had a vision, though, of rivaling even the glitzy hotels of New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
Since then, it’s been a place of respite for countless guests and celebrities, including President Lyndon B. Johnson, his wife, and several other Texas politicians. Going beyond its whopping price tag, the Driskill Hotel can also stake its claim as the oldest and most well-known hotel in the city, having been ranked on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, you can also dine in at the Driskill Grill where they serve massive steaks cut straight from Texan steer. If you get lucky, you can even check into one of the 189 rooms, including a presidential suite or the infamous Room 525, known for its supernatural visitations.
The Austin Motel
If you’re looking for somewhere that’s a little more modern but you still want to harken back to an older time, check out the Austin Motel. Originally opened in 1938, the Austin Motel got its start as a family-run business looking to give motorists a place to rest their heads while out on the road.
Since then, it’s continued to attract travelers with its unique saloon-style neon sign and mid-century mod architecture. When you check into the Austin Motel, you’ll feel as if you’ve been swept back in time to road trips with your parents or grandparents in the 1950s and 60s.
There are 41 available rooms, including suites, all of which are decorated with plush red and yellow beds, fun and excitingly themed wallpapers, hexagon tiled floors. Outback, you’ll find a retro swimming pool shaped like a kidney bean.
Hotel Saint Cecilia
Although not as old and famous as the Driskill Hotel, Hotel Saint Cecilia can trace its history back to 1888 when the Miller-Crocketts originally built this structure as their family home. If the name Crockett sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same family Crockett as the legendary pioneer and statesman Davy Crockett.
Today, though, Hotel Saint Cecilia takes its name from the very same Saint Cecilia—patron saint of poetry, music, and musicians. The interior is unlike anything else you’ll find in Austin. It’s chic yet harkens back to the Rock N’ Roll days of the late 1960s. You’ll find beautiful leather couches, tile floors, luxurious rugs, and exquisite imported furniture.
With only 14 rooms available, though, you’ll have to be quick to snatch up a room at the Hotel Saint Cecilia. In each room, you can find a fully functional turntable, which you can use to play anything from the hotel’s vast collection of vinyl records.
Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection
Odds are, you’ve heard the name Commodore Perry in a high school U.S. history class at some point. He’s the naval officer who played a vital role in opening Japan to trade with the West. Anyway, this is his estate.
The Commodore Perry Estate offers its guests a vast property full of beautiful libraries and suites, revivalist Italian Renaissance architecture, primed gardens, paintings, sculptures, and even an on-site chapel. Yet, if it all sounds rather dated and drab, don’t worry! The Commodore Perry Estate has been painstakingly restored to pristine condition for its guests.
Of the 42 available rooms, five suites have been designed to match a specific theme, named for Commodore Perry’s family members. You’ll find the floral LaVerne suite, the grey-scale Ken Fulk suite, and the safari-themed Matthew Perry suite.
After completing the restoration, this hotel reached such a high level of fame that Vogue even added it to its list of 18 most anticipated hotel openings in 2020.
The Stephen F Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel
If you’re hoping to stay in a grand high-rise style hotel but don’t want to sacrifice history, fame, and luxury, check into the Stephen F Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel. Named for the founding father of Austin Texas, this hotel has become one of the most iconic buildings in downtown Austin since it first opened in 1924.
With 10 floors housing 190 different rooms and suites, the Stephan F Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel features grand marble interiors, golden furniture, an interior swimming pool and jacuzzi, and sweeping views of the surrounding area.
Thanks to its grand design, the Stephan F Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel has been visited by countless celebrities and has even rested the heads of former presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, George Bush Sr., and George W. Bush.
As one of the oldest cities in Texas, Austin certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to grand, historic, and famous hotels. Depending on your style and budget, you can stay in mid-century mod motels, grand mansions styled to a tee, or luxurious high-rise hotels dating back more than 100 years.
Our best advice, though, is that whichever hotel you settle on, be sure to book ahead of time as these famous spots fill up quickly! For all locations, you can call ahead or book a room online.