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Carpenter Hotel
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Austin’s best hotels for design lovers

These chic hospitality spaces are a cut above the cookie-cutter international chains

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Carpenter Hotel
| Via Carpenter Hotel/Facebook

Forget the carbon-copied interiors of international hospitality chains: Austin’s most well-dressed hotels prioritize highly localized styles—historic and new iconography, one-off artisanal objects, and even modernist simplicity—in their designs. From a grand downtown hotel built for a cattle baron in 1886 to an art-focused South Austin space accented with Eames and Arne Jacobsen chairs, we’ve rounded up 17 Austin hotels with distinctive flair that set them apart from the pack. What they have in common is that they represent at least some small piece of Austin's character, in its ever-changing variety.

If hotels aren’t your bag, be sure to see our roundup of vacation rentals, updated every month or so.

Did we miss your favorite design-forward hospitality spot? Let us know in the comments.

Hotels are mapped from north to south.

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1. Lone Star Court

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10901 Domain Dr
Austin, TX 78758
(512) 814-2625
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Lone Star Court, a sort of 1950s Hill Country simulacrum at The Domain, might not be a high-design affair (though what does that mean, really?), but its guest rooms and public facilities do a good job of referencing, without replicating, a rural motor hotel of days gone by. The outdoor courtyard with fire pits, live music, and service from its restaurant add a glamping-at-a-1950s-KOA-campground vibe to the mix.

Open bedroom with bed, sitting area, refrigerator, concrete floors, and a barn door at one end.
Lone Star Court King Room
Courtesy of Lone Star Court

2. Hotel Ella

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1900 Rio Grande St
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 495-1800

A boutique hotel fashioned from a landmark local mansion near the University of Texas campus, Hotel Ella is luxurious but laid back, a place with a history of eccentric owners and a variety of uses. It has beautiful rooms, grounds, porches, and verandas for relaxing—and its pool and park area in back is home to a modernist sculpture garden for even more eye candy.

3. The Driskill

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604 Brazos St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 474-5911
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The Driskill Hotel was built for a cattle baron in 1886, and its vintage grandiosity is still largely intact. For many decades, it was the finest and best hotel in the city, the place where politicians, socialites, and other fancy or powerful people gathered. And, in fact, it’s still pretty special. The beautiful lobby has recently been remodeled, and its bar is lauded for its bar-ness as well as its historic atmosphere.

4. Austin Proper Hotel

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600 W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 628-1500
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Designed by New York-based Handel Architects, the new downtown high-rise is the first Proper Hospitality location outside of California, but interior designer Kelley Wearstler spent years traveling to and from Austin to make sure its design draws on regional styles old and new. Some of its inspirations include the city’s historic, Craftsman-style homes, including references to Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts motifs, joinery techniques, textures, and materials. The lobby features a wooden staircase covered in more than 60 conjoined vintage carpets topped with an assortment of pots by local ceramicist Rick Van Dyke. Austin’s trademark neon signs are also referenced in lobby signs, and the textiles motif carries over to the hotel’s restaurant.

5. East Austin Hotel

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1108 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
(737) 205-8888
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East Sixth Street (not to be confused with Dirty Sixth) has rapidly become a relatively small-scale entertainment and hospitality district similar to South Congress Avenue, and East Austin Hotel is one of the boutique spaces there that carries a deep local pedigree. It was designed by architect studio Rhode in collaboration with longtime Austin designers Robin Kelley, who has worked on a number of hospitality projects for Bunkhouse’s Liz Lambert, and Kathy Steele, also a local designer of note. Its roots show in the posh/hip modernist decor and the inclusion of a pool that’s kind of perfect—convenient and necessary for quick dips or luxurious lounging during the long, hot summer.

6. Native Hostel and Bar & Cafe

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807 E 4th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 551-9947
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Native describes itself as an “experiential hostel” that combines boutique hotel design and amenities with the social interaction more typical of a hostel. It comes by its raw industrial design, by award-winning local legend Joel Mozersky and Jared Haas, naturally, as it was converted from a longtime locksmith’s shop.

7. The Line Austin

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111 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 478-9611
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Built in 1965, the Line started life as one of Austin’s most stylish modern hotels and continued to be a storied destination as a Radisson for decades. The Line chain took over the property in 2016, when notable local architect Michael Hsu and LA-based designer Sean Knibb oversaw a thorough renovation with fantastic results. The rooftop deck, restaurant, and bar, which reference its midcentury-style past and provide incredible views over Lady Bird Lake.

8. The Carpenter Hotel

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400 Josephine St
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 675-5020
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Located in the repurposed Carpenter’s Union Hall and, appropriately, in a grove of pecan trees, the boutique hotel Carpenter Hotel is small and sophisticated, offering the perfect launching pad to all things South Austin and all the breeze block you could ever want. The hyperlocal focus and adaptive reuse make sense when you note that it’s co-owned by former Ace Hotel group co-owner Jack Barron, who still owns the Ace Hotel in Portland (home of regional adaptive reuse hospitality titan McMenamins), and his wife, Jen Turner, an architect who co-led the design team with Barron as part of hospitality group The Mighty Union. Austin/New York-based Specht Architects designed the award-winning building.

9. Four Seasons Hotel Austin

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98 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 478-4500
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Yes, it's a Four Seasons, but this one has been the celebrity go-to in Austin far longer than any of the hotels (save the Driskill) have existed. It could be because it's tucked back from the street and fronts the river—offering privacy and unobtrusive convenience—the dependability of its soft lighting and its luxurious decor, or the discretion of its staff. Or maybe it's the spa. Whatever the case, if you hang out in the comfy bar long enough, you'll probably see somebody who's Somebody at some point, and redesigns have kept the place visually interesting over the years.

10. Arrive East Austin Hotel

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1813 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
(737) 242-8080
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Arrive comes from a group that operates out of California but takes pains to incorporate local vernacular in its builds. The East Sixth Street hotel, which replaced an unimaginative, unused office building, incorporates industrial elements referencing the neighborhood’s recent past with a sort of mod-rustic chic that typifies a style the adaptive reuse and DIY renovation common to the area in the past couple of decades. Rooms feature the polished concrete floors, graphically bold wallpaper, and collages by local artist Sarah Presson (whose work also adorns the key cards).

11. Hotel Van Zandt

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605 Davis Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 542-5300
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Hotel Van Zandt is a Kimpton Hotel, but it takes Austin and its music seriously, from its namesakes (both the late musician Townes and his deeply rooted Texas family that includes Isaac Van Zandt, the first ambassador to the United States for the Republic of Texas, his great-great-great-grandfather) to its live-music stage that focuses on local musicians, especially songwriters. Most of its presidential suites are named after Townes Van Zandt or characters from some of his most well-known songs (there's a Pancho and a Lefty, as well as a Loretta). Many of them feature a poker table and record player and collections, and some have upright pianos.

12. Heywood Hotel

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1609 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702

A bungalow retrofitted with a modern addition, the Heywood Hotel marries the two styles in elegant fashion and features local artists, makers, and textile designers throughout as well as outdoor lounging areas perfectly designed for hot weather, relaxation, and slack.

13. Hotel Saint Cecilia

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112 Academy Dr
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 852-2400

One of transformative local hotelier (patron saint of Austin hotels?) Liz Lambert's projects, Hotel St. Cecilia was conceived as a rock & roll hideaway—it was created in honor of a patron saint of music and poetry—and it delivers. It's located off busy South Congress, but the generous grounds, grand oak tree out front, and overall vibe make it seem like it's miles away from the fray. Think the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour or Bob Dylan and the Band at Big Pink.

A bedroom in Hotel Saint Cecilia. There is a bed, a pink trunk, a red couch, and a United States flag hanging from the ceiling.

14. Austin Motel

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1220 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 441-1157

A fixture on South Congress for more than 80 years, Austin Motel has vintage appeal with comforts of the modern age. It was recently remodeled in a way that appeals to the contemporary traveler while nodding in completely innovative ways to its colorful past. The hotel’s redesign includes landscaping by Mark Word Design, a pool bar by Jack Sanders and Design Build Adventure, and custom woodwork by Enabler.

Red sign that says Austin motel with marquee that says “Let Love In”

15. Hotel San Jose

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1316 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 444-7322
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Once a seedy motor hotel, Hotel San José was reinvented in the 1990s by visionary owner Liz Lambert and Central Texas architecture firm Lake/Flato, who together might, arguably, be credited/held responsible for Texas modern style and kicking off the New Austin. Whatever the case, Hotel San José is a bungalow-style oasis on the bustling street, with lush gardens, a welcoming courtyard bar, and its own kind of fun inside.

Hotel San José courtyard
Hannah Koehler

16. Kimber Modern

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110 The Cir
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 912-1046
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Kimber Modern holds a special place in the heart of traveling design nuts. Owner Kimber Cavendish worked with local architect Burton Baldridge to create a boutique hotel that’s an ode to architectural goodness and nationally recognized local art. This is a place that details the materials and furniture—Eames molded plastic desk chairs, Arne Jacobsen egg chairs, Philippe Starck and Duravit bathroom sinks—on its website. Despite being in a conveniently located area of South Austin, it manages to feel private and comfortable, not to mention full of eye candy.

17. South Congress Hotel

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1603 South Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

South Congress Hotel—designed by lauded locals Michael Hsu Architecture—has shifted the design conversation on its namesake strip from Texas modern and highway-strip vintage, bringing to the table an eclectic mix of 1960s roadside modernism and traditional Japanese design, with some upscale retail and restaurants thrown into the mix.

1. Lone Star Court

10901 Domain Dr, Austin, TX 78758
Open bedroom with bed, sitting area, refrigerator, concrete floors, and a barn door at one end.
Lone Star Court King Room
Courtesy of Lone Star Court

Lone Star Court, a sort of 1950s Hill Country simulacrum at The Domain, might not be a high-design affair (though what does that mean, really?), but its guest rooms and public facilities do a good job of referencing, without replicating, a rural motor hotel of days gone by. The outdoor courtyard with fire pits, live music, and service from its restaurant add a glamping-at-a-1950s-KOA-campground vibe to the mix.

10901 Domain Dr
Austin, TX 78758

2. Hotel Ella

1900 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX 78705

A boutique hotel fashioned from a landmark local mansion near the University of Texas campus, Hotel Ella is luxurious but laid back, a place with a history of eccentric owners and a variety of uses. It has beautiful rooms, grounds, porches, and verandas for relaxing—and its pool and park area in back is home to a modernist sculpture garden for even more eye candy.

1900 Rio Grande St
Austin, TX 78705

3. The Driskill

604 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701

The Driskill Hotel was built for a cattle baron in 1886, and its vintage grandiosity is still largely intact. For many decades, it was the finest and best hotel in the city, the place where politicians, socialites, and other fancy or powerful people gathered. And, in fact, it’s still pretty special. The beautiful lobby has recently been remodeled, and its bar is lauded for its bar-ness as well as its historic atmosphere.

604 Brazos St
Austin, TX 78701

4. Austin Proper Hotel

600 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

Designed by New York-based Handel Architects, the new downtown high-rise is the first Proper Hospitality location outside of California, but interior designer Kelley Wearstler spent years traveling to and from Austin to make sure its design draws on regional styles old and new. Some of its inspirations include the city’s historic, Craftsman-style homes, including references to Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts motifs, joinery techniques, textures, and materials. The lobby features a wooden staircase covered in more than 60 conjoined vintage carpets topped with an assortment of pots by local ceramicist Rick Van Dyke. Austin’s trademark neon signs are also referenced in lobby signs, and the textiles motif carries over to the hotel’s restaurant.

600 W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701

5. East Austin Hotel

1108 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

East Sixth Street (not to be confused with Dirty Sixth) has rapidly become a relatively small-scale entertainment and hospitality district similar to South Congress Avenue, and East Austin Hotel is one of the boutique spaces there that carries a deep local pedigree. It was designed by architect studio Rhode in collaboration with longtime Austin designers Robin Kelley, who has worked on a number of hospitality projects for Bunkhouse’s Liz Lambert, and Kathy Steele, also a local designer of note. Its roots show in the posh/hip modernist decor and the inclusion of a pool that’s kind of perfect—convenient and necessary for quick dips or luxurious lounging during the long, hot summer.

1108 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702

6. Native Hostel and Bar & Cafe

807 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78702

Native describes itself as an “experiential hostel” that combines boutique hotel design and amenities with the social interaction more typical of a hostel. It comes by its raw industrial design, by award-winning local legend Joel Mozersky and Jared Haas, naturally, as it was converted from a longtime locksmith’s shop.

807 E 4th St
Austin, TX 78702

7. The Line Austin

111 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701

Built in 1965, the Line started life as one of Austin’s most stylish modern hotels and continued to be a storied destination as a Radisson for decades. The Line chain took over the property in 2016, when notable local architect Michael Hsu and LA-based designer Sean Knibb oversaw a thorough renovation with fantastic results. The rooftop deck, restaurant, and bar, which reference its midcentury-style past and provide incredible views over Lady Bird Lake.

111 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701

8. The Carpenter Hotel

400 Josephine St, Austin, TX 78704

Located in the repurposed Carpenter’s Union Hall and, appropriately, in a grove of pecan trees, the boutique hotel Carpenter Hotel is small and sophisticated, offering the perfect launching pad to all things South Austin and all the breeze block you could ever want. The hyperlocal focus and adaptive reuse make sense when you note that it’s co-owned by former Ace Hotel group co-owner Jack Barron, who still owns the Ace Hotel in Portland (home of regional adaptive reuse hospitality titan McMenamins), and his wife, Jen Turner, an architect who co-led the design team with Barron as part of hospitality group The Mighty Union. Austin/New York-based Specht Architects designed the award-winning building.

400 Josephine St
Austin, TX 78704

9. Four Seasons Hotel Austin

98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

Yes, it's a Four Seasons, but this one has been the celebrity go-to in Austin far longer than any of the hotels (save the Driskill) have existed. It could be because it's tucked back from the street and fronts the river—offering privacy and unobtrusive convenience—the dependability of its soft lighting and its luxurious decor, or the discretion of its staff. Or maybe it's the spa. Whatever the case, if you hang out in the comfy bar long enough, you'll probably see somebody who's Somebody at some point, and redesigns have kept the place visually interesting over the years.

98 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX 78701

10. Arrive East Austin Hotel

1813 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Arrive comes from a group that operates out of California but takes pains to incorporate local vernacular in its builds. The East Sixth Street hotel, which replaced an unimaginative, unused office building, incorporates industrial elements referencing the neighborhood’s recent past with a sort of mod-rustic chic that typifies a style the adaptive reuse and DIY renovation common to the area in the past couple of decades. Rooms feature the polished concrete floors, graphically bold wallpaper, and collages by local artist Sarah Presson (whose work also adorns the key cards).

1813 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702

11. Hotel Van Zandt

605 Davis Street, Austin, TX 78701

Hotel Van Zandt is a Kimpton Hotel, but it takes Austin and its music seriously, from its namesakes (both the late musician Townes and his deeply rooted Texas family that includes Isaac Van Zandt, the first ambassador to the United States for the Republic of Texas, his great-great-great-grandfather) to its live-music stage that focuses on local musicians, especially songwriters. Most of its presidential suites are named after Townes Van Zandt or characters from some of his most well-known songs (there's a Pancho and a Lefty, as well as a Loretta). Many of them feature a poker table and record player and collections, and some have upright pianos.

605 Davis Street
Austin, TX 78701

12. Heywood Hotel

1609 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702

A bungalow retrofitted with a modern addition, the Heywood Hotel marries the two styles in elegant fashion and features local artists, makers, and textile designers throughout as well as outdoor lounging areas perfectly designed for hot weather, relaxation, and slack.

1609 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702

13. Hotel Saint Cecilia

112 Academy Dr, Austin, TX 78704
A bedroom in Hotel Saint Cecilia. There is a bed, a pink trunk, a red couch, and a United States flag hanging from the ceiling.

One of transformative local hotelier (patron saint of Austin hotels?) Liz Lambert's projects, Hotel St. Cecilia was conceived as a rock & roll hideaway—it was created in honor of a patron saint of music and poetry—and it delivers. It's located off busy South Congress, but the generous grounds, grand oak tree out front, and overall vibe make it seem like it's miles away from the fray. Think the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour or Bob Dylan and the Band at Big Pink.

112 Academy Dr
Austin, TX 78704

14. Austin Motel

1220 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Red sign that says Austin motel with marquee that says “Let Love In”

A fixture on South Congress for more than 80 years, Austin Motel has vintage appeal with comforts of the modern age. It was recently remodeled in a way that appeals to the contemporary traveler while nodding in completely innovative ways to its colorful past. The hotel’s redesign includes landscaping by Mark Word Design, a pool bar by Jack Sanders and Design Build Adventure, and custom woodwork by Enabler.

1220 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

15. Hotel San Jose

1316 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Hotel San José courtyard
Hannah Koehler

Once a seedy motor hotel, Hotel San José was reinvented in the 1990s by visionary owner Liz Lambert and Central Texas architecture firm Lake/Flato, who together might, arguably, be credited/held responsible for Texas modern style and kicking off the New Austin. Whatever the case, Hotel San José is a bungalow-style oasis on the bustling street, with lush gardens, a welcoming courtyard bar, and its own kind of fun inside.

1316 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

16. Kimber Modern

110 The Cir, Austin, TX 78704

Kimber Modern holds a special place in the heart of traveling design nuts. Owner Kimber Cavendish worked with local architect Burton Baldridge to create a boutique hotel that’s an ode to architectural goodness and nationally recognized local art. This is a place that details the materials and furniture—Eames molded plastic desk chairs, Arne Jacobsen egg chairs, Philippe Starck and Duravit bathroom sinks—on its website. Despite being in a conveniently located area of South Austin, it manages to feel private and comfortable, not to mention full of eye candy.

110 The Cir
Austin, TX 78704

17. South Congress Hotel

1603 South Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

South Congress Hotel—designed by lauded locals Michael Hsu Architecture—has shifted the design conversation on its namesake strip from Texas modern and highway-strip vintage, bringing to the table an eclectic mix of 1960s roadside modernism and traditional Japanese design, with some upscale retail and restaurants thrown into the mix.

1603 South Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704