Historical to hipster: 24 of our favourite hotels in Austin, Texas

5d ago

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You’re finally doing it: You’ve decided to visit Austin, Texas — once lockdown is over, of course.

You’ve booked your flight and you’ve planned out your local activities. You’re ready to explore the amazing food scene and experience Austin nightlife, and you even have a few day trips planned.

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But the all-important question remains: Where should you stay? The capital city of Texas has a wide variety of properties from major brands, as well as quirky boutique hotels and plenty of Airbnb options.

Here are some of the best picks, whether you’re paying in points or cash.

Marriott

(Photo courtesy of Austin Proper Hotel)

Fans of Marriott’s Bonvoy programme are the clear winners in Austin, with dozens of options to choose from. Pricing across Marriott’s portfolio in the city is relatively affordable compared to its rising cost of living: Here, you’ll find some great deals and unique experiences from Category 2 to Category 6 properties. In fact, Austin might be a destination where it’s worth your while to book in cash in order to earn points toward stays at properties where your points can provide outsized value for very expensive hotels.

Take the JW Marriott, for example. This Category 6 property is located in the heart of Austin’s business district, and the points rate is a standard 43,000 points per night thanks to the chain’s current promotion. However, you can book a room right now from just $134 per night before taxes and fees.

Similarly, save your points and use cash to book the affordable Aloft/Element hybrid hotel near the iconic Paramount Theatre. The Aloft hotel is a Category 5 property while the Element is classified as a Category 6. Cash rates begin as low as $82 per night for the Aloft and at $89 for the Element, while standard award nights are currently priced at 31,000 and 43,000 Bonvoy points, respectively, per night.

Even if you’re a fan of the W brand, I’d skip the Austin location. While the pool deck is cute and offers great private cabana space in addition to a few lounge chairs, the pool itself is shallow, narrow and usually crammed with people drinking White Claws during non-pandemic times. If you want a great pool with a stunning view of downtown, check out the Westin a mile or two east instead.

Forget everything you think you know about Texas. This beautiful new hotel in downtown Austin is the latest outpost of the luxury boutique Proper brand, which itself falls under Marriott’s Design Hotels umbrella. Somehow, the hotel manages to layer a million different colours and patterns into a cohesive, beautiful experience: Kelly Wearstler’s vision blends local designers and materials with unique pieces sourced from around the world.

(Photo courtesy of Austin Proper Hotel)

The 244 hotel rooms and suites at the Proper span 10 tiers, from the base-level King room all the way up, literally, to the Penthouse Suite. The King room is the only option that’s bookable on points, at 43,000 Bonvoy points for a standard award night or $260 per night before taxes and fees. All rooms are available to book in cash, including lake-view balcony suites that can cost up to $3,100 per night.

(Screenshot courtesy of Marriott)

Hyatt

Rooms at the iconic Driskill Hotel combine a century of history with modern comforts. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

If you’re a World of Hyatt member looking for a luxurious getaway, you’re in luck: You can book one of Austin’s nicest five-star retreats, the all-inclusive Miraval Austin resort, located just outside the city near Lake Travis.

Since the property is all-inclusive, you’ll be charged by the number of people rather than a flat room rate. Cash rates begin at $640 per night for the first occupant, with an additional charge for a second person. Award night rates begin at 45,000 World of Hyatt points and you’ll pay an additional 20,000 points for the second occupant in the room. Reservations can only be booked by calling an agent at 866-792-3395.

(Photo courtesy of Miraval Austin)

Each award night at Miraval includes luxury accommodations, a $175 nightly resort credit per person, healthy meals, freshly prepared snacks and nonalcoholic beverages, plus access to a wide array of complimentary daily wellness activities, lectures, yoga, meditation, fitness classes and more. The resort is a non-tipping property.

For a more down-to-earth stay, the Category 4 Hyatt Regency Austin overlooks the gorgeous Lady Bird Lake and its hike-and-bike trails. Rates begin at $110 or 15,000 Hyatt points per night.

True budget travellers will also be happy with two different Hyatt properties in the downtown area. As with the Marriott hotels in Austin, you’ll get a better deal paying in cash and saving your points for more valuable redemptions.

Cash rates for both the Category 4 Hyatt Place and Category 3 Hyatt House properties in downtown Austin begin at $71 to $75 per night right now, while you’ll spend 15,000 and 12,000 Hyatt points, respectively, for each night booked in points.

The stunning Category 5 Driskill hotel in downtown Austin is a beautiful relic of Texas history spanning as far back as the 1880s, while offering all the contemporary amenities needed to keep a modern traveller comfortable. You’ll be in the heart of Austin at this beautiful destination, with the famous Sixth Street nightlife scene spanning both sides of the street surrounding the hotel, with both the Capitol and the Congress Avenue Bridge within easy walking distance.

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

You won’t lack for fine dining here, either. The Driskill Grill served President and Lady Bird Johnson — for whom the nearby lake is named — on their first date, and the Driskill Bar serves up some of the best cocktails in the state of Texas.

Just keep an eye out for ghosts: Both the spirits of hotel founder Jesse Driskill and a jilted bride are said to walk the hallways.

The Driskill is part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, and even participates in the Work From Hyatt programme from unheard-of rates beginning at $110 per night before taxes and fees. Or pay with points: This Category 5 property offers award nights from 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

IHG

(Photo by Katherine Fan for The Points Guy)

You can get some great IHG redemption value in Austin, as TPG’s own Katie Genter has proven. If you time your plans right, you can snag a room at the Hotel Indigo downtown for as little as 15,000 IHG points per night or from $120 per night.

Kimpton Van Zandt in Austin. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

If you’d prefer a little more personality, the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt has created a beautiful homage to Austin’s art and music scene in its lobby and room decor. Rooms are lower than usual in 2021, beginning at 30,000 IHG points most nights, or $175 before taxes and fees.

Unfortunately, the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt is one of IHG’s only luxury properties in the Texas Hill Country. Budget travellers can choose from a slew of Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express properties scattered throughout popular areas of Austin, with prices for all properties beginning at $78 or 20,000 IHG points per night.

IHG is the exception to the cash versus points value; all points rates fall pretty closely in line with the cash value of each room.

Hilton

Hilton’s rendering of the newly opened Canopy by Hilton Austin Downtown. (Image courtesy of Canopy by Hilton)

Hilton was one of 2020’s most customer-friendly brands, with the Hilton Honors rewards programme taking home the prestigious title of “best hotel loyalty programme” at the 2020 TPG Awards.

I personally find the Hilton hotel options in Austin a little lacklustre despite having top-tier Diamond status. A number of budget brand hotels are available from $60 or 14,000 Hilton Honors points per night, including Hampton Inn and DoubleTree properties sprinkled throughout the Hill Country.

That being said, there are a few noteworthy deals for Hilton enthusiasts who want a little bit more luxury. The eponymous Hilton Austin is centrally located near the Austin Convention Center, and can be booked in cash from $102 per night, or as low as 19,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

The newly opened Canopy by Hilton Austin Downtown may be popular with travellers interested in staying in the heart of the nightlife district. (Phrased another way, this might not be the best property for people who value going to bed early in a super-quiet environment.) Cash rates begin at $156, or 34,000 Hilton Honors points for a double queen room. Once again, you’ll get the best value if you pay in cash.

Accor

This French chain isn’t as well known as its major competitors. However, the five-star Fairmont Austin is a solid contender for your attention on your next trip down to Austin. Its central location right at the top of Rainey Street, great restaurants and stunning pool deck add charm and attraction to the huge property, which hosts many South by Southwest events during non-pandemic times.

(Photo courtesy of Accor)

Free agents

Austin is home to dozens of beautiful, independent hotel properties. The lobby of the South Congress Hotel combines pops of colour with serene, natural neutrals. (Photo courtesy of South Congress Hotel)

The following properties aren’t affiliated with any major hotel chains, but are some of my favourite spots in Austin and can easily be booked through Hotels.com for a unique, local experience:

Featured photo courtesy of Colton House Hotel by Ayuma Photography

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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