Four Seasons Austin
98 San Jacinto Blvd., Rainey
The Four Seasons outpost in downtown Austin combines both the luxury of a high-end hotel chain with the charm of one of the coolest cities in the U.S. The lush grounds, for example, are a great place to grab a craft cocktail or stretch out in a hammock. The sprawling guestrooms, all done in soothing earth tones and complete with the most comfortable beds around, look out onto Lady Bird Lake (ask the concierge to set up a quickie boating trip) or downtown.
Four Seasons Hotel Houston
1300 Lamar St., Downtown
A 2017 renovation has given the thirty-five-year-old hotel a glossy new exterior and a sleekly finished leather-and-glass lobby.
1609 E. Cesar Chavez St., East Cesar Chavez
This boutique hotel is set in a 1925 Craftsman bungalow (with two levels, and just seven rooms, each uniquely furnished), but don’t let the old-school edifice fool you: The interiors of this historic house have been totally refurbished and renovated for a polished, modern look. Married partners George Reynolds and Kathy Setzer opened up shop in East Austin in 2012—the up-and-coming area has since grown into a happening, but not unruly destination. You can borrow bicycles for free to explore the area—bars, galleries, food trucks, and some excellent taquerias are all within striking distance.
1070 Dallas St., Downtown
A new addition to Downtown Houston, Hotel Alessandra is a modern, twenty-story building situated near the METRORail, making it the perfect home base from which to explore all of Houston.
1900 Rio Grande, Central Austin
This historic mansion-turned-boutique hotel is all about Texas charm, from the grand wraparound porch, to the meticulously manicured grounds in the pool area, to the plush upholstery in the well-appointed rooms. The best part: it’s all newly renovated and totally up to modern luxury standards. The outdoor pool is lined with cabanas where you can enjoy complimentary 24-hour guest services (the fitness center is also open round-the-clock), making it the perfect place to rest and recuperate while on a business trip. Their on-site bistro, Goodall’s Kitchen, covers brunch, dinner, and dessert. The juicy burger, Tavern Steak with roasted bone marrow, or simply a few snacks to share, mean Goodall’s is worth a visit even if you're not checking in.
Hotel Saint Cecilia
112 Academy Dr., South Congress
In the hospitality world, hotelier Liz Lambert is known for her Midas touch. Case in point: She hand-picked every item—from the silky drapes to the giant chandeliers—in this fourteen-room Victorian mansion with visiting musicians and creatives in mind. (The South Congress Hotel also happens to be named after the patron saint of music and poetry.) There are five suites, six poolside bungalows, and three studios—all outfitted with turntables, monogrammed bed linens, and Le Labo products, although each one has its own distinct character. Guests can borrow LPs from the library too. The hotel bar (for guests only) has a gorgeous view of the grounds—go at sunset and order a margarita. (Lambert's other hotel in South Congress, Hotel San Jose, also has great cocktails, and is a good option if you're looking for a busier atmosphere.) Bonus: The Hotel Saint Cecilia's fifty-foot pool is heated and open around the clock.
Hotel San Jose
1316 S. Congress Ave., South Congress
Smack dab on South Congress Avenue and originally built in 1939 as an old motor lodge, the 40-room property was revamped by hotelier Liz Lambert in the late 90s and has since developed something of a cult following along the way. Here, her minimalist aesthetic translates to a cool gray stucco façade, terra cotta roofs, a bamboo-lined lap pool, and Eames arm-shell chairs. The concrete-floored rooms are sparsely appointed (Sferra linens, Malin + Goetz products), but thoughtful. Slip on one of the custom striped kimono robes—conveniently also for sale at the hotel’s gift shop—and you’ll be hard pressed to take it off. An added perk: Jo’s Coffee next door will deliver your daily Iced Turbo or a breakfast taco right to your room.
Hotel Van Zandt
605 Davis St., Rainey
Part of the appeal of Hotel Van Zandt is its location in Rainey Street Historic District, and close proximity to the Austin-specific, easy-going, bungalow-turned-bars there. The Kimpton hotel has 300-plus guest rooms, decorated in the brand's signature smart style, and a handful of fabulous suites, which have views of downtown, Rainey Street, or Lady Bird Lake. Van Zandt's chic pool and deck also overlook Lady Bird.
2332 Leonard St., Uptown
To some, the décor may seem a little wild; to others, Zaza’s flamboyance is a welcome relief from the neutrals that characterize most hotels. The bones are Mediterranean—tile floors and soaring ceilings—but the guest rooms are a thematic riot, ranging from Moroccan-inspired to Moulin Rouge. The beds are roomy and comfortable, dressed in Italian linens, and the spa has an excellent facial program including impressive peel- and laser-based treatments. While the pool isn’t huge, its location—in a very Zen-ish garden with just a few lounge chairs—feels intimate. It’s the kind of place you want to relax with a book for a few hours before getting ready for a night out. The house bar is good times guaranteed, especially on weekends, thanks to the skilled mixologists, but the nearby Arts District means there are plenty of walkable options for dining, drinking, and wherever the evening may take you.
5701 Main St., Museum District
Hotel ZaZa is right at home in Houston's Museum District, where its themed suites—not for minimalists—are as elaborate as any show in the nearby galleries.
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