Fee for in-room Wi-Fi (though free in common areas)
W Austin is a luxury hotel located in the heart of Austin's 2nd Street District, close to sights, shopping, and entertainment. The hotel's 251 rooms are housed on the first 16 floors of a mixed hotel-and-condo tower, and a minimalist design throughout incorporates elements of Southwestern decor. Rooms are average in size, comfortably stylish, and feature modern amenities, like flat-screen TVs, minibars, and espresso machines. The hotel's Living Room bar areas and rooftop pool are popular gathering spots for Austinites, and the on-site restaurant, Trace, is one of the city's culinary hot spots. This is the trendiest hotel in the Downtown area, but travelers in search for a more traditional stay might prefer the beautifully restored 1886 The Driskill Hotel, though there is no pool there.
This minimalist hotel has a definite Austin vibe, punctuated with colorful Southwestern elements
You'll notice the W's minimalist vibe, incorporating concrete floors and walls, as soon as you walk through the glass entry doors. Some guests with more classic taste might find this off-putting, but the young and chic have mostly embraced the W Austin's modern style. The main lobby area is somewhat small, with the front desk occupying the far end of the space. The rest of the lobby is flanked on either side by a small lounge area and the concierge desk. In keeping with the Austin vibe, the concierge area is wonderfully decorated with funky photographs that capture Austin's self-proclaimed "weird" scene. The W is the haunt of mostly young, affluent travelers, and so is staffed and outfitted accordingly.
In the emerging 2nd street district close to shopping, entertainment, and historical sites
The W Austin occupies a prime location in the city's 2nd Street entertainment district. In the area adjacent to city hall, the 2nd Street District encompasses the Austin City Limits concert hall (a two-minute walk from the hotel) and dozens of shops, restaurants, and bars. Austin's 6th Street entertainment district is a 12-minute walk from the hotel. Lady Bird Lake, a popular running/biking trail, is a five-minute walk away. It is a 20-minute drive from the hotel to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Comfortable and modern, though some may feel a bit small
The decor in the modern rooms incorporates silver and blue tones (subtle pointillist paisley wallpaper, light gray Sferra blankets), offset by funky red settees with bright cushions. Black-and-white photographs and industrial floor lamps add contemporary flare. Rooms have windowed partitions decorated with glassware that separates the foyer and bathroom from the main area, creating a studio-apartment-like feel. Contemporary corner desks with USB hubs provide plenty of work space.
All rooms feature 40-inch flat-screen LCD TVs, espresso machines, iPod docking stations, and nicely stocked minibars. Beds are luxuriously comfortable beds with wonderfully soft linens. Bathrooms have sleekly tiled walk-in showers, separate toilet rooms, full-length mirrors, and Bliss Spa bath products.
Rooms on the lower floors may flank the rooftop opposite the pool, meaning noise levels are higher on weekends when parties congregate around the pool. Spectacular Rooms have a view facing Lady Bird Lake, though an industrial-looking rooftop stands between the hotel and the lake, some three blocks away.
In-room Wi-Fi costs a daily fee, though it is free for those on the hotel's loyalty program (which is free to join).
Fine dining and trendy bars with stylish atmosphere, a cool pool, and a high-design spa
Just off the hotel's entrance is The Living Room, featuring chic decor with fireplaces and cool gray couches accented by bright cushions. A large wood-and-concrete wall creates separate bar areas -- Tequila Bar, Records Room, and Secret Bar -- each serving cocktails and light fare. Records Room is one of the coolest spots; it's dominated by a wall of neatly shelved vinyl records on either side of a fireplace. Following the labyrinth through the bar areas eventually leads to Trace restaurant, where the modern, sophisticated vibe continues. Trace features a farm-to-table menu and a pleasant outdoor seating fronting a busy street. Room service is available until late.
W's WET Deck (rooftop pool) is the haunt of young Austinites on weekends, though it's virtually empty during the week. The pool is lined with lounge chairs and pretty cabanas with TVs. The pool is incredibly narrow and only four feet deep, with shallow wading areas on either end -- so it's more for lounging amid a party scene than actual swim-based activities. The seasonal WET Bar occupies a patio adjacent to the pool and serves cocktails and light fare. Austin's growing skyline looms over the gray concrete walls.
The pool is located on the fourth floor, along with the spa and fitness center. The fitness center is quite large and features a good selection of weight and cardiovascular equipment, with nice city views. W's luxurious AWAY Spa features seven treatment rooms and a nail lounge. The 24-hour business center has both Apple and PC work stations and offers free printing and copies. Wi-Fi is free in the common areas, but costs a fee in the rooms (in-room Wi-Fi is free for members of the hotel's loyalty program).