Get us in your inbox

Search
Fairmont Austin
Photograph: Courtesy Fairmont Austin

The 14 best downtown Austin hotels

Keep it central with the best downtown Austin hotels

James Wong
Written by
James Wong
Advertising

Though some might argue otherwise, downtown Austin really is where all the best attractions, restaurants and hotels are at. It’s where tourists wander the State Capitol, where the bats emerge from Congress Avenue Bridge, and where bachelors and bachelorettes go wild on Dirty Sixth. Sure, East is hipster, North has better Asian food and South has all the parks, but being central means you’re simultaneously close to them all. Depending on where you’re at, you can even walk to the other neighborhoods (maybe not between June and September). It’s no wonder downtown boasts the highest concentration of hotels, from luxury to business to budget—all conveniently located so that you can dart in and out of SXSW or ACL events, bar hop, or window-shop with minimal effort or rideshare expense. Here’s where to check in and keep things central in Austin.

RECOMMENDED: The best spa hotels and resorts in Austin

Best downtown Austin hotels

  • Hotels
  • Spa hotels
  • Convention Center District
  • price 3 of 4

This ATX skyline icon is the place to be during big sports games and festivals—it’s often an official sponsor for such events so fans can enjoy a connected experience right on-site. But that’s not all that makes Fairmont Austin a magnet for visitors and locals alike. It’s home to acclaimed grill Garrison, helmed by Jakub Czyszczon; rooftop lounge, Rules & Regs, which hosts drag brunch extravaganzas during Pride and beyond; and Italian/Asian (yes, combined) eaterie, Revue. The spa is one of the most beautiful downtown, boasting nine treatment rooms, solariums, a saline soaking pool, eucalyptus steam grottos, and dry heat saunas. The 37-story hotel has 1,048 guest rooms and suites, including the exclusive Fairmont Gold boudoirs for the ultimate VIP upgrade. All boast shiny floor-to-ceiling windows, Nespresso machines, Stearns & Foster pillow-top mattresses and lush Le Labo bath amenities. Easily the best stay downtown, if not the whole of Austin.

This 1960s jazz club turned hotshot boutique hotel is one of Downtown’s greatest stays for a number of reasons. 1. The location by Lady Bird Lake (literally, steps to) makes it one of the most scenic hotels, not least if you have a lakeside room or suite. Even better, it’s next to Congress Avenue Bridge so you can see the bats fly without waiting out in the heat. 2. Its historic heritage can be felt throughout, making it a particular romantic stay with modern members’ house touches. Think crescent sofas, bulb chandeliers, and bathrooms with Cowshed amenities. And 3. It’s got some of the most exciting amenities along the river, including Veracruz tacos, Arlo Grey (Kristen Kish’s beautiful restaurant), and P6 (an open-air rooftop bar perfect for sunsets). Oh, and it smells great too, especially when you light up the complimentary palo santo incense sticks.

Advertising
  • Hotels
  • Chain hotels
  • Congress Ave District

You’re forgiven for skipping over this before—a tired hotel paired under office multiplex wasn’t exactly the sexiest stay on San Jacinto—but turn around now, because you’re in for a surprise. In 2021, downtown’s Omni underwent a multi-million-dollar makeover, and the result is a razor-sleek and simultaneously approachable experience. Interiors embrace Austin’s buzzy entrepreneurial spirit from the airy communal tables and network-friendly lobby bar, Capital A (they also serve chunky scratch-made tater tots!), up to the Premier Floor lounge that’ll make you feel like a Google employee, without the sleepless nights. 393 guest rooms fine tune attention to detail, outfitted with commissioned unicorn sculpture as an ode to Austin’s startup companies, spacious walnut work counters wired up with smart tech (and flawless WiFi), and sumptuous bathrooms lit photo-studio-style and NEST products. Despite being steps from the big attractions, the glass facade cocoons an air of calm; a welcome juxtaposition for those combining business with pleasure.

With sleek black and gold ground floor interiors and a tropical oasis of a rooftop bar, it’s easy to mistake this as a higher-end JW or something from the Proper hospitality group, rather than a humble red-logo Marriott. But this 2021 opening is a surprisingly sweet reward for all those hard-earned Bonvoy points. Rooms are a smidge on the small side, we admit, but white walls, clever compartments and floor-to-ceiling windows significantly stretch said space. The King Corner rooms shine extra bright. You’ll be out and about mingling too: perhaps at Corinne’s brunch, the Lobbyist bar, or our fave bodega-style cafe, Loaf + Vine—where, if you’re not feeling social, has every ingredient to create your own personal mini-bar. Note they have a strict 11am checkout time for non-platinum members.

Advertising
  • Hotels
  • Congress Ave District
  • price 3 of 4

Austin’s status as a festival capital has sprung up an array of boutique lodgings, but the Driskill was around long before the boom of badge holders. Built in 1886, the influence of the developer (a cattle baron, naturally) still exists in the form of hide-upholstered couches and longhorn busts hanging in the bar. The rooms exude old-school Texas elegance: think vintage crown molding, calming desert gold and tan linens, and pearly white accents. You’ll be surprised that the tech essentials are all up to date too, including smart TVs. Afternoon Tea at The Driskill is one of the most sought-after experiences (and booked out for yonks in advance) and the building serves as many a stop of historic tours. Legend has it that the halls are haunted by two ghostly brides who took their lives on their wedding nights 20 years apart, but in the same room (note: we’ve stayed, and no supernatural activity was witnessed). Rather, come to be enchanted.

There are so many Hilton-branded hotels in Austin, that you have to be really careful not to get it wrong. This one on W 17th Street is by far the best. Opened in 2021, it’s more boutique than you’d expect from an inn. Rooms are chic and cleverly designed in dark woods and noir frames, with particularly close attention to lighting whether sensory or beverage overhead. Behind a mirrored barn door, a bathroom with copious amounts of counter and shelf space makes laying out your toiletries a neat possibility. They’ll join Neutrogena amenities. Smart TV, fridge, Keurig and a microwave are also included (you can heat up meals from their on-site mini grocery store). That’s if you have not already opted to dine at Analog Bar, or had a delicious breakfast buffet on floor two—starting at a sweet $10. The downtown slash UT location means the hotel is perfectly situated not only to explore the capitol and Moody Center, but also for viewing them from the 17th-floor Apex Rooftop.

Advertising

2017’s Aloft Austin gets top marks for location, social spaces and affordability; downtown Congress Avenue, awesome brunch spot Caroline’s, and rooms starting from a cool hundred bucks (ish) is a winning combo, especially when you’ve landed for festival season. Inside you’ll find 278-rooms in a loft-style design, with high ceilings, platform beds, large walk-in showers, and carpets with a pinch of turquoise for good buzz. The furniture’s bold and wide open (there are no drawers to stash privates, so keep them in your bag and stack them in the wardrobe). Smart TVs, fridge under the sink, and ergonomic workspaces complete a neat personal space. At the lobby on level 2, by the always-lively Upstairs at Caroline’s bar, there’s a grab-n-go kiosk with all the snacks and drinks one could need, 24 hours a day. Just the trick after a long day out on Zilker with the squad.

  • Hotels
  • Downtown
  • price 4 of 4

Towering 34-stories into the skyline, this 1,012-room JW Marriott is a mighty urban resort with on-site spa, multiple bars and restaurants and even a Starbucks. Though it's best suited to business travelers, the amenities make it an equally welcoming recreational stay. The Edge is their chic rooftop bar from which to take a dip, enjoy a frozen cocktail, then watch the famed Congress Ave Bridge bats emerge, while the streetside Corner Restaurant is forever a social spot. Opt for a Lady Bird Lake view room for the best indoor sunset experience, though you won’t be disappointed come curtain close with 48” HD LED Smart TVs, super soft bedding, and calming earth-toned bathrooms for company. Executive options include lounge access with awesome little nooks to work from (and rooms are equipped with desks, ergonomic chairs and high-speed Wi-Fi, too).

Advertising
  • Hotels
  • Chain hotels
  • Convention Center District
  • price 2 of 4

If you're in town for an event at the Convention Center, Hilton Austin will likely serve as your homebase. The twinkling lobby houses a Starbucks, restaurants (Cannon & Belle and the awesome Austin Taco Project) and lounge area that acts as a meeting spot for business and family gatherings. Being one of skyline’s mature builds, at nearly 20 years young, one of those perks means space. Rooms and suites are significantly roomier than Hilton’s all-glass neighbors like the new Marriott, and have understated ATX quirks that nicely balance professional with fun lovin’. They’re also ultra clean, well kept, and well stocked, including mini-fridge and hot beverage amenities, work spaces and full bedside tech. TVs don’t stream, however, and guests are required to call down for drinking water. Bathrooms contain Crabtree & Evelyn products in eco-friendly pumps and we love the night light. Take advantage of their huge health center, with separate cardio and weight rooms, plus warm oak locker rooms with sauna and steam cabins, and the outdoor pool and hot tub. 

  • Hotels
  • Town Lake
  • price 3 of 4

Kimpton’s Hotel Van Zandt is located in the heart of Rainey Street, formerly a strip of sleep bungalows that has morphed into the city’s premiere bar-hopping district. With one of the most impressive lobbies in town (the light fixtures made from trombone bells are truly stunning), a restaurant with views of Lady Bird Lake and live music all week, it’s an undeniably hip place to be seen, but an even hipper place to stay. Its 319 rooms are outfitted with dark woods and patinated bronze fixtures that add intrigue, and soaker tubs overlooking the cityscape make your stay that much more special. The beloved on-site restaurant, Geraldine’s, is a must for any itinerary—with live music, brunch, and a happening roof side bar.

Advertising

Another top location if you want to be based by UT, yet stay within walking distance to all the big attractions downtown. AT&T Hotel and Conference Center is exactly as you’d expect: it has excellent connectivity throughout the property, and a slew of corners to do business in. The hotel is almost like a fancier extension of the University itself…if it were to marry a museum. Limestone archways and nods to the campus mascot, the Texas Longhorn, might have something to do with it. Inside 297 guest rooms are adorned with wooden furnishings, vintage campus photography, and a large, flexible workspace. Bathrooms come with Essential Elements Bathe collection products, and there are fluffy hotel branded robes to slip into after your ritual. Check out The Carillon Restaurant down on LL: the all-day dining destination just re-opened for dinner, and there’s a double chocolate dessert with your name on it (or a longhorn-patterned gym if not).

Smack dab in the middle of Congress Avenue, this historic stay is one for the traveler who desires personality and old-world charm—this ain’t no cookie cutter new-build. The near-centenarian hotel is a step back in time as you stroll hallways of vintage red doors and golden wall sconces, before entering a suite adorned with rich dark woods, warm tones and furnishings that appear worn in a beloved family-treasure kind of way. Some rooms offer views of the Texas State Capitol and the Paramount Theatre’s flashing light bulbs. The indoor pool is nothing to IG about, but at least it’s indoors and can be enjoyed no matter the weather. F&B amenities include the Roaring Fork (FYI the burgers are huge), Stephen F’s Bar and Terrace (the only outdoor terrace along Congress Avenue), and a casual breakfast is served at Café Fuller.

Advertising
  • Hotels
  • Warehouse District
  • price 2 of 4

In the heart of it all (and a stone’s throw from trendy restaurants like The Well and La Condesa) the W is one of those places that you don’t really need to leave for the good times to roll. The Living Room bar is a fixture for midnight memories, and the rooftop pool parties are legendary. Rooms are a comforting contrast of gray suede sofas, metallic-based lamps and sleek white tables. The Cool Corner Suite has a sexy Kohler bathtub nestled in the window-side niche, filled with Momo by Davines pamper products—a bubbly fun nook. Big Samsung LCD TVs, musician photography, and guitar pick keys add to the rockstar feel. It’s worth checking out their notable farm-to-table dining experiences at TRACE (including drag brunch) and excellent AWAY spa (by their massive gym) for when you need to detox to retox.

Revelers to Antone’s Nightclub need only cross the road to get to bed. The Westin is located between the iconic live music venue and Sixth Street. Inside there are 366 rooms and suites—all are airy and large with a contemporary design and Westin’s signature Heavenly beds. TVs sadly, don’t have streaming, so the newest episode of Bridgerton will have to wait till you get home (but then, you’ve not come to ATX to sit and watch Brits on TV) and if you’re the type that needs Instagrammable corners this probably isn’t the hotel for you, since the WiFi is patchy. But for a decent location, lots of space (we like the 20th-floor gym, and the pool has fab views!) this isn’t a half-bad stay. Especially if you pay with points.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising

    The best things in life are free.

    Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

    Loading animation
    Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

    🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

    Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!