Weekend Diary

Hotel Saint Cecilia: A cool place to stay in Austin

Hotel Saint Cecilia: A cool place to stay in Austin

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Hotel Saint Cecilia, a secluded estate in Austin's South Congress district, is named in honor of the patron saint of music and poetry. Photo by Allison V. Smith
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The 50-foot lap pool glows at night with the reflection of the purple "Soul" neon sign. Photo by Allison V. Smith
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The lobby is so, well, chic Austin! Photo by Allison V. Smith
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One of three grand suites in the house. Note the fabulous chandelier. Photo by Allison V. Smith
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Suite One features a sitting room, private study and large bedroom. Photo by Allison V. Smith
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Just one of the many artistic details found at the boutique hotel. Photo by Allison V. Smith
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Breakfast prepared to order Photo by Allison V. Smith
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The Saint Cecilia Library features an extensive collection of vintage vinyl, along with films and books on poetry and poets, writers and musicians. Photo by Allison V. Smith
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Enjoy the outdoors, daytime and nighttime, on the lovely patio. Photo by Allison V. Smith
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The  Hotel Saint Cecilia is not exactly in the business of keeping Austin "weird." But it's a great destination for a chic weekend getaway and a distinctive alternative to the Four Seasons for the best luxury lodging in the state capital.

About a year ago, Greg Marchbanks and his Bunkhouse Management Group, with the help of co-owner Liz Lambert (Hotel San Jose, Jo's Coffee), took a one-acre rolling lot just off South Congress, turned an existing Victorian house into rooms and added some very cool bungalows, creating Hotel Saint Cecilia. Named for the patron saint of music and poetry, it has only 14 rooms (five suites, six bungalows and three studios) and no real restaurant — just a small, very hip bar that makes a great omlette for breakfast. The house and bungalows are separated by a pool with the neon sign that shows up in most reviews.  

The rooms are upscale with a distinct residential feel, but in a good way: No creaky floors and no dusty armoires. Great furnishings and, of course, great beds. The extras, from the mini-bar (in this case a small, built-in cooler) to the bathroom toiletries, are all different here, and selected with an eye for detail.

Look for other noticeable touches and meaningful extras. Stuff you tell your friends about. Not the now-standard iPod connections and CD players, but a turntable. (Turntables play records, you remember?) And the lobby has rows and rows of great albums from past decades you can choose from. The same music that is playing throughout the property. Very Austin!

The hotel location is a great starting point to explore Austin. During the past five years, the city has seen an explosion of local chefs and independent restaurants (like Houston but, of course, smaller). And there's always the much talked-about club and music scene. Check the original Continental Club, located within walking distance of Hotel Saint Cecilia.