Long known as a bastion of live music, stellar BBQ and hyper-local culture finely tuned to the best in underground art, food and film, Austin, Texas is known more for its quaint B&Bs and converted motorcourt hotels oozing with hipster ease than anything tall, gleaming and corporate.
But somehow, the W Austin manages to pull it off, ruffling a few locals’ feathers but generally blending into the city’s vibrant lakefront culture with style and just a bit of sparkle.
Visit the Lone Star State’s capital city and it becomes evident while strolling through downtown that — as the old Sesame Street song goes — “one of these things is not like the others.”
The tony 2nd Street District stands alone in its ultra-polished storefronts catering to an upper crust crowd, seeing a disproportionate amount high heels trampling its sidewalks compared to the laid-back TOMS and flip flops seen elsewhere around town.
So perhaps it’s fitting that, when the global force that is W Hotels decided to open a space in Austin, that’s the neighborhood they chose.
Carefully making sure not to rock the locavores’ boats (or perhaps upsetting them even more in the process), the W made a pledge to offer a borrowing library for local DJs from its extensive collection of vinyl in one of its three street-level bars, and also to build a state-of-the-art music venue to house live tapings of the famed PBS music show, Austin City Limits.
The Moody Theater, commonly referred to as “the ACL live stage,” now counts itself among Austin’s many storied performance halls and live music venues.
Towering above the city from its spot at 2nd and Lavaca streets, the W Austin’s average room rate is $350 per night.
Celebrity-seekers might note that local legend Willie Nelson hosted his annual new year’s eve party at the hotel this past year, and Oprah Winfrey reportedly slept there during a recent stay when she visited Austin for her groundbreaking interview with controversial cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.
Ever the bellwether of all things beloved by millions of Americans, if it’s good enough for Mama O, it’s likely a safe bet for your next stay deep in the heart of Texas.
Photos: The W Austin