I struggle to put into words just how meaningful the Driskill Hotel — that imposing and slightly out-of-place-looking building on the corner of 6th and Brazos — is to me and what an affect I think it's had on the city.
I've never actually stayed a night in the Driskill, even once, but in the four years I've been in Austin it's been the setting for many memories: Walking in the first time and feeling like I had stepped back through time. Tucking in to warm up on a cold winter day. "Ghost hunting" one Halloween evening. Drinks with friends. Hot chocolate at the 1886 Café & Bakery. The multiple times I've brought out-of-town visitors to Driskill for drinks when I wanted to impress them.
The Driskill Hotel isn't the tallest or biggest building in Austin. It's not full of the latest design trends or modern furniture by big-name designers. But it is relevant — it exists not as a musty time capsule, but as a thriving example of the class and elegance of another time that still charms the pants off of visitors today. With all the new designs, architecture and businesses that dot Austin, it's important to take a moment to remember one of the first examples of its style.
In my opinion, the real charm of the Driskill is in the details. The numerous columns in the lobbies that draw your eye up to the impossibly tall, coffered ceilings with amazing lights. The cowhide-upholstered furniture sprinkled throughout. The stunning Texas, cow and cowboy-themed artwork that hangs on the walls. The giant statue under a stained-glass dome in the bar. The giant taxidermied long horn head that hangs so seriously over a couch. The touches of gold and brown and how the whole place just seems to glow.
The Driskill Hotel isn't the tallest or biggest building in Austin. It's not full of the latest design trends or modern furniture by big-name designers. But it is a thriving example of the class and elegance of another time that still charms the pants off of visitors today.
Built for an estimated $400,000 and completed on December 20, 1886 as a showplace of cattle baron Colonel Jessie Driskill, it's actually one of the oldest historic buildings in the state and features 189 jaw-dropping rooms. It's had a long tradition of being the place to hold governor inaugural balls and stunning events for international dignitaries, and is noted to have a been a favorite spot of President Lyndon Johnson.
You can check out all the historical facts on the hotel's online historic timeline to find out more interesting tidbits — like how many times the hotel's changed owners, when additions were made and when President Johnson had his first date with his wife.
As I walked through the Driskill a few weekends ago taking photos, I came across a lot of memories being made. A soldier home from service about to have a welcome dinner with family. Two road-weary travelers debating the finer points of Texas roadways. A young toddler mesmerized by Christmas decor going up. A group of curious tourists asking an employee about the hotel's ghosts. All folding into the history of one pretty darn cool, 125-year-old building.
What are your memories of the Driskill Hotel? Have you stayed there as an overnight guest or ever popped into the bar for a whiskey on the rocks? Ever stood in awe at all the columns or listened intently as an employee shared a ghost encounter? Let us know. Let's add to the history of the Driskill Hotel by sharing all of our own memories of the place.