Austin's unofficial slogan might be "another day, another boutique hotel," but the newest one on our radar—The Highlander—goes a long way toward mixing up the formula.
For one thing, it's not in Central East or on South Congress. The converted Travelodge, painted purple and gray and now festooned with pink plastic sheep (they hope to see "ewe" soon) is on Middle Fiskville Road. That would be the north central area near the ACC Highland campus/Highland mall, the DPS office, and a few decidedly unhip strip malls.
Second, kind of unbelievably, they still have openings for SXSW. That, along with its fresh, quirky design and stealth convenience to Michi Ramen, Lucy's Fried Chicken, and Stiles Switch BBQ, makes it an officially qualified undiscovered gem.