Where to Stay in Austin, TX
Great food. Amazing craft beer. Endless watering holes. A thriving arts scene. Sun almost every day. Good Music. What’s not to love about the capital of Texas? And everyone from the tech-savvy SXSW crowds to hipster music crowds to Tex-Mex loving foodies wants in.
Austinites are a diverse mix of government employees, college students, musicians, high-tech workers, blue-collar workers, and a vibrant LGBT community. The mix really gives the city a unique feel. Big city and small community, all at once. It’s been called one of the Best Cities and Neighborhoods for Millennials and one of the best places to live in the US. I can see why. And it only has a little to do with the abundance of delicious tacos….or the fact that they play chicken shit bingo on Sundays.
Long renowned for its live music scene, Austin exudes cool from every neighbourhood and now regularly tops lists for best cities for weekend mini-breaks, bachelor parties, girls trips, and romantic getaways. It can be daunting to pick the right area to stay in Austin for your vacation, so I want to give you my opinion.
Hostels and Hotels Near Downtown Austin
There’s a lot to consider when trying to find the best area to stay in Austin. How close are you to the best restaurants? Live music? Trendy cocktail bars? And most importantly, how close are you to tacos? Though the capital is relatively small, each neighbourhood has its own vibe and personality.
Personally, I think the best area to stay in Austin is anywhere within a 25min walk of the Congress Avenue bridge. It’s where I stayed when I was in the city and it’s what I’d recommend for anyone planning the perfect trip to Austin. And there are plenty of great hostels and hotels near downtown Austin to choose from.
Downtown is where you’ll find the majority of the best restaurants, tourist attractions, and nightlife like Rainey Street and the notorious Dirty 6th. It’s the epicentre of your Austin vacation.
So where should you stay in Austin?
If you love boutique hotels but also like saving money, Native Hostel is your spot. While the rooms are shared, each bunk has its own reading light, power outlet, storage locker, and heavy curtain. The ceilings are high so both top and bottom bunks are large enough to sit up straight without worrying about hitting your head.
Each room has one toilet and two shower rooms, with the nicest fixtures and decor that I’ve ever seen in a hostel. This isn’t a party hostel. The common area is more likely to be filled with digital nomads banging out work on their laptops at 8am than hungover 20-somethings.
And if you don’t feel like venturing far in the evening for food and atmosphere, Native has a great kitchen and is a popular hang out spot with locals.
If all hostels were like Native Hostel, I might never stay in a hotel again. I’m a serious fan.
- What: Native Hostel
- Where: 807 E 4th St, Austin, TX
- Rooms: 12 rooms, 66 beds
- Price Range: From $45 USD
Built in 1885, Firehouse Hostel is located in the city’s oldest standing fire station. It’s filled with ambiance and charm and since opening in 2013, have become the largest hostel in Texas. They have four styles of rooms to choose from whether you’re on a tight budget or travelling with a couple friends and want some privacy. And some of the nicest hostel bathrooms you’ve seen.
You couldn’t ask for a better location, right in the heart of downtown just steps from 6th Street and the Texas State Capitol Building.
Tip: open the bookcase in the lobby to discover a hidden speakeasy.
- What: Firehouse Hostel
- Where: 605 Brazos Street, Austin, TX
- Rooms: 4, 6, 8 bed dorms, 4-bed private rooms
- Price Range: From $33 USD
Guild Lamar Union
If you want to stay in an apartment but would rather avoid AirBnB, then you want the Guild. You’ll have access to a full kitchen, washery & dryer, fitness centre, outdoor pool, with food and entertainment only steps away. The apartments are spacious and decorated with an artistic, modern flair that I really loved.
I stayed there in the fall and was thrilled to find, not only a handful of restaurants (including a Shake Shack), but the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema where my friends and I could order dinner and pints while watching our movie. The Highball next door also hosts one of the most notoriously weird Austin events: BS Bingo.
- What: Guild Lamar Union
- Where: 1100 S Lamar Blvd #1136, Austin, TX
- Rooms: 10 apartments
- Price Range: From $193 USD
If you really want a memorable design experience with your hotel, then check out the Austin Motel. The Austin Motel opened its doors in 1938, and its landmark neon sign has been brightening South Congress Avenue ever since.
The motel was recently remodeled with a kitschy retro design that fits neatly into the Keep Austin Weird mindset. It’s centrally located in the heart of SoCo, Austin’s most interesting cultural district, and is close to downtown, the Congress bat bridge and other area attractions. The iconic motel’s amenities include a swimming pool with pool bar, communal hangout spaces, free WiFi, flat-screen TVs, and complimentary parking.
- What: Austin Motel
- Where: 1220 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX
- Rooms: Full, Double, Queen, King Rooms + Suite
- Price Range: From $117 USD
If you want to live the high life in Austin, you stay at the Driskill, the oldest operating hotel in the city. For more than a century, this iconic hotel has hosted restful nights, inspired gatherings, momentous occasions and then some. Completed in 1886, The Driskill was conceived and built by Col. Jesse Driskill, a cattleman who spent his fortune constructing “the finest hotel south of St. Louis”. It remains a place of elegance and luxury in the heart of Austin.
It’s had a bit of a boom and bust history, much like the city of Austin. It closed in 1887, less than a year after opening, and then proceeded to change hands a few times. In 1969, it came dangerously close to being demolished before a last minute fundraising effort for renovations saved it. As of 2013, it’s part of the Hyatt family of hotels.
It is also well known as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States, featuring a variety of alleged supernatural activity throughout the building, including the spirit of Colonel Driskill himself. Visit the nearby Museum of the Weird and learn all about the Driskill’s hauntings.
- What: The Driskill
- Where: 604 Brazos Street, Austin, TX
- Rooms: 189 rooms: Queen, King, and Suite
- Price Range: From $266 USD