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.
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.
W Austin Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The W Austin, opened in December 2010, is one of the city's newest luxury hotels. Featuring a minimalist design that incorporates elements of southwestern decor, its 251 rooms are housed on the first 16 floors of a mixed hotel-and-condo tower. It's well located in the heart of Austin's newly emerged 2nd Street District close to sights, shopping, and entertainment. The rooms are average in size, comfortably stylish, and feature modern amenities. The W is the haunt of mostly young, affluent travelers, and so is staffed and outfitted accordingly. The Living Room bar is a popular gathering spot for Austinites, and the young and hip congregate at the W’s WET Pool on weekends. Trace, its signature restaurant, is one of the city's culinary hot spots.
Four Seasons Hotel Austin Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The Four Seasons Austin is one of the city’s most beloved and well-known luxury properties, enjoying a prime downtown location and phenomenal lake views. The service and amenities are top-notch, as you’d expect from the Four Seasons. The rooms, however, do not deliver the level of luxury you'd expect from the brand; they're comfortable enough, and feature up-to-date technology, but the decor feels generic and a little dated.
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, 48-room Mansion at Judges’ Hill 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 are quaint (some might say dowdy), the American fine dining restaurant is elegant, and the sprawling veranda is a great place to sip cold drinks in the warm weather. But the Mansion lacks the features of a larger hotel, including a pool and on-site fitness center.
The Driskill Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The 189-room Driskill Hotel sets a new standard for historic hotels. The hotel was built in 1886 and beautifully restored, and the the gleaming marble floors, towering columns, and stained-glass ceilings evoke a bygone era. Tasteful, elegant rooms follow suit with designer furnishings, towering ceilings with crown moldings, brocade carpeting, and pretty bathrooms with black marble floors and counters (but shower/tub combos). They're a bit small, though -- but that's to be expected in an historic downtown hotel. There's no pool or other on-site amenities besides a nice fitness center and small massage room, but the location in the heart of Austin's famous Sixth Street entertainment district is prime.