The hotel scene in Austin really started to come alive when former lawyer Liz Lambert opened the Hotel San Jose in 2000. She turned a decrepit flophouse into a gorgeous little boutique hotel in the heart of South Congress Avenue—helping to set the stage for the street's rise in popularity in the 2000s. In a few years, Hotel San Jose was joined in the South Congress area by another Lambert creation, the Hotel St. Cecilia, and then the Kimber Modern. Now creative hoteliers are branching out in Austin, with the Heywood Hotel in East Austin and Lone Star Court to the north. And there's more to come. Just as there's a boom in construction of big hotels in Austin, plans are also in the works for new boutique hotels, including new offerings from Lambert and the owners of the Kimber Modern. In the meantime, check out my picks for the best boutique hotels in Austin.
Hotel St. Cecilia
Another Lambert creation, the St. Cecilia (opened in 2008) is also in the South Congress area, but it has a personality all its own. Here, the vibe is bohemian luxury with rock 'n' roll flair. Appropriately, every room has a turntable, and you can borrow albums from the lobby.
With bright-white stylings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and high-end furniture like Eames desk chairs, this sleek boutique property will appeal to travelers seeking luxury, privacy, and modern convenience in the center of the city. The hotel is as small as they come, with just five rooms around a leafy courtyard, set on a hilly half-acre spot in South Austin.
If you're coming to Austin ready to eat (and you should), the Heywood, opened by George Reynolds and Kathy Setzer in 2012, puts you within walking distance of some amazing East Austin restaurants. Each of the seven well-designed rooms has a distinct look, and some have private patios. Explore the area on the hotel's loaner bikes.
Lone Star Court
Opened in late 2013, Lone Star Court by Valencia group proves that creative hotels are not limited to Central Austin. This one is at the Domain, the shopping/dining area about 10 miles from downtown Austin. Texas retro is the theme, and amenities include a pool, fire pits, a courtyard and a food-truck court.