Austin, Texas: Lodging
If you’ve been keeping tabs on our blog, you’ll know Caitlyn and I were eager to travel somewhere warm and affordable to get away from the Indiana cold and snow for three nights and, if you’ve been neglecting reading our blog (naughty!), now you’re all caught up. What follows is the first of many posts to come on Austin, this one focusing on lodging.
I’m a bit of a hotel snob — I don’t deny it. I prefer my hotels 3.5 stars and up, usually modern in decor (but I’m open to rustic charm and the occasional other motif) and in a great location, preferably near public transit. All that said, I often make the paradoxical choice of going in “blind” by picking a class of unnamed hotels on sites like Hotwire. Just to mix it up, I tried “negotiating” my own price for the first time on Priceline for this trip just to see how it would turn out.
We were able to land the 3.5-star Radisson in downtown Austin for $99 a night (plus tax). Located just blocks from the hustle-and-bustle of busy 6th Street and within easy walking distance of several bus stops, the location couldn’t be beat. As for on-site dining, a new Mexican restaurant, Chavez, just opened in the former T.G.I. Friday’s space and there was even a Starbucks adjacent to the lobby.
Upon entering the hotel, guests are greeted by a modern-meets-Texas style, with big fish tanks, columns of rock and antler chandeliers. An equally modern infinity pool — among the first of many renovations at the hotel — is adjacent to the check-in desk and features fanciful jets, great views of the Colorado River and even some seats in the water. Thankfully, the weather was warm enough the first two days that we could take advantage of the pool.
Now, my research on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor had told me the rooms were going to be “dated” and that I should ask for a room facing the river for the best chance of a more modern-looking room. I did so and was given, what I presume to be, a business-class room. Complete with mini fridge, microwave and separate living room and bedroom, we certainly didn’t have to worry about feeling claustrophobic!
The furniture was, what I suppose you could call, “dated” but that was offset by the cleanliness of the room, the comfort of the bed and the great view of the river. Based on some of the reviews I read, you would have thought the furniture was a deal-breaker but, really, it’s only a part of the equation. Of course, I also paid much less than the sticker price for the room, so my opinions might have been different had I paid full price.
The only hiccup we encountered during our stay was when the shower head and hot water refused to work the first day; however, maintenance remedied that situation quickly (unfortunately, we had tickets to a show and still had to go out after having swam in the pool without showering off).
We also wish we could have seen the famous “Congress Avenue Bats.” We’ve been told it’s especially nice to stay at the Radisson during the spring and summer, when 1.5 million bats return from their winter siesta in Mexico to perch under the neighboring Congress Avenue bridge — easy to see from any south-facing windows. But none of that is the hotel’s fault, of course.
Overall, the Radisson was just what we needed — affordable, comfortable and right in the thick of everything we wanted to do in Austin. So, to all the haters on Yelp, TripAdvisor and wherever else, I have one word for you: Chill.