In a city that seemingly snubs big-brand hotels and, more specifically, hotel restaurants (they're still recovering from the old TGI Fridays at the Radisson), the 2015 trend that’s taking over Austin has certainly been embraced.
With a new hotel popping up on every other street corner this year, Austinites were apprehensive about what the change would bring. Almost all the openings in 2015 came from international hotel brands that were surprisingly met with open arms and praise, beckoning travelers and residents alike.
We took a look inside Austin’s newly acquired accommodations and discovered a common thread: attention to detail in design, culinary excellence, and an emphasis on all things local. Tapping into the Austin culture in their own unique ways, here are the city’s coolest new hotels of 2015.
JW Marriott Austin
With 34 stories, 1,012 guest rooms, and 112,000 square feet of event space, JW Marriott is the massive new hotel that opened in February 2015 along Congress Avenue. The hotel had over 300,000 reservations lined up before it even opened, opening right before the onslaught of SXSW.
Highlights of the JW are the outdoor pool deck and bar available to guests and its three dining concepts: Osteria Pronto, Corner, and Burger Bar. While Osteria Pronto serves upscale Italian, Corner is devoted to serving Texas-style cuisine (think street tacos and braised short ribs) utilizing locally sourced ingredients from the food to the bar’s well selection. Burger Bar is an accessible walk-up stand outside the hotel serving a must-try double patty with bacon, cheddar, candied jalapeños, and blistered peppers for just over $6.
Hotel Van Zandt
Rainey Street became almost unrecognizable as the 16-story Hotel Van Zandt opened its doors. The luxurious boutique hotel is beautifully designed with vintage flair like plush velvet lounge seats and smoked mirrors with every last detail thought out.
Opened in November 2015, the hotel features 319 guest rooms, 41 suites, and 12,000 square feet of meeting space. The lobby cafe serves as a great spot for a morning coffee, while Geraldine’s on the fourth floor provides an exciting dining destination with live music and an expansive pool deck and bar overlooking the Austin skyline.
South Congress Hotel
The only Austin-born-and-bred hotel to open in 2015, South Congress Hotel is the new boutique concept from New Waterloo, the group behind Hotel Ella, Sway, La Condesa, Qui, and many more. After much anticipation, South Congress Hotel opened in September with 71 guest rooms, 12 suites, and a rooftop pool and bar. (See a pattern here?)
Other amenities at the property include the stylish and tasty eatery Café No Sé, helmed by Executive Chef Michael Paley and Executive Pastry Chef Amanda Rockman, and women’s apparel and accessory shop Sunroom. The hotel’s newest restaurant, Central Standard, opened last week and is already creating a buzz. Still to come are nail salon Tenoverten; Paul Qui’s 12-seat omakase-style restaurant, Otoko; and coffee and juice bar Mañana.
Hotel Granduca Austin
Opening in November, Hotel Granduca brings a breath of fresh Italian air to the Texas Hill Country. The hotel in West Lake Hills hosts more than 1,000 pieces of original Italian art and is also home to the delicious Ristorante Visconti.
With six meeting rooms, a grand ballroom, pool and spa area, outdoor gardens, and fitness facility, Hotel Granduca is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. And it has already received top accolades. Granduca Austin is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World organization, an honor held by only one other Texas hotel: the original Hotel Granduca in Houston.
The Westin Austin Downtown
Going to the new Westin in downtown Austin is worth it for the rooftop pool alone. It’s the highest hotel pool in Austin, coming complete with a cocktail bar. The 20-story tower boasts 366 guestrooms and suites, a 24-hour workout area, 16 meeting rooms, and more than 14,500 square feet of event space.
The Westin, which opened in July, also debuted a new restaurant that is attracting Austinites along with out-of-towners. Stella San Jac is an “Austin-American” restaurant with unique cocktails and Southern-style cuisine set in a stylish space.