Travaasa Austin Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Travaasa Austin is set on its own nature preserve on a hilltop amid forested canyons 20 miles west of downtown Austin. Its 72 rooms are housed in seven buildings built on three different levels, with correspondingly different views from their balconies. Hiking trails, an infinity-edge pool enclosed by a wooden deck, a luxurious spa, and a restaurant with panoramic views are just some of the amenities providing inspiration and relaxation for visitors. It's far from the city's downtown core, but that's probably why most guests are looking to stay here.
Hotel Saint Cecilia Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Stylish Hotel St. Cecilia, with just 14 rooms, is a boutique hotel in the truest sense of the word. It features a sexy lounge (complete with patio seating), spacious grounds, and uber chic rooms that meld with Austin's weird vibe and cool music scene via distinct decorative touches and amenities. The centerpiece is an historic Victorian home fronting spacious, sylvan grounds and harboring four of the hotel’s beautiful suites. The long, narrow pool offers a classy place to beat the Austin heat. But its biggest perk is likely the ideal location in one of Austin's coolest neighborhoods, close to downtown shopping, historic sites, and entertainment.
Hotel Ella Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The upscale Hotel Ella oozes atmosphere and history. Built in 1900, the white, neoclassical building is located in the University of Texas area, a 5-minute drive from downtown. Rooms were renovated in 2013, the American fine dining restaurant is elegant, and the sprawling veranda is a great place to sip cold drinks in the warm weather.
Heywood Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This seven-room hotel, situated in an intimate Craftsman-style house in the up-and-coming East Austin area, lives up to its "unique boutique" billing. Rooms all have distinct, trendy decor with pops of color and smart details such as black make-up towels and eco-friendly, big-bottle toiletries. Free perks include parking, Wi-Fi, and bikes loans, and rooms come stocked with large flat-screen TVs, French presses, and minibars with fair prices. But the hotel's size means limited service hours, and virtually no amenities.
Lake Austin Spa Resort Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This lakeside retreat along the shores of Lake Austin is more than a spa resort -- with kayaking, canyon hikes, yoga and "discovery programs," Lake Austin Spa Resort is a true wellness destination. Its log-cabin-like exterior is enhanced by its natural surroundings, while the French-inspired interior is bright and elegant. The 40 rooms continue this look, with classic but stylish furnishings, and feature modern technology (iPod docks and flat-screen TVs). Gorgeous lake views can be seen throughout -- from the sun-soaked dining room, cheerful lobby, upstairs living room, and even the modern fitness center. There are three pools, one of which is housed in a barn, and outdoor massage facilities are surrounded by trees. The cooking class kitchen is cute and homey, just like the rest of the resort.
Kimber Modern Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This stylish boutique hotel in South Austin has only five guest rooms, and caters to guests looking for a truly private and relaxing hideaway. An outdoor courtyard is shaded by tall trees and features a sleek water feature and hammocks. Just off the courtyard is the hotel's common area, where guests will find cool mid-century modern seating, a trendy Apple iMac computer and printer, and a full kitchen. The bright and airy rooms all have platform beds with comfy bedding, iPod docks, LCD TVs, and white decor. Suites have spacious bathrooms with freestanding tubs, and each room has a mini-fridge.
Hotel San Jose Rating: 3.5 Pearls
They say everything's bigger in Texas, but this intimate "bungalow-style" boutique hotel might be the exception. The 40-room property, originally built as a motel in 1939, incorporates a stylish, minimalist design and sits at the center of Austin's SoCo neighborhood, a trendy area known for great music. The hotel reflects its hipster surroundings by offering lots of cool stuff on loan: an excellent music library (both CDs and pre-filled iPods), a video collection, Polaroid cameras, bicycles, and even a Remington typewriter. There's a small swimming pool, an outdoor lounge serving drinks and snacks, and the locally famous Jo's Coffee next door. Urban-chic rooms have modern wooden platform beds, polished concrete floors, paisley bedspreads and flat-screen TVs, though noise can occasionally be a problem and the bathrooms could use some updating and cleaning. It's an excellent boutique pick overall, and is especially popular during the South by Southwest music festival.