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What's the best neighborhood in Austin for a first time visitor?

I've never been to Austin and I'm a little overwhelmed by all the hotel options. I'd like to stay in a hotel that is central and gives me good sense of what Austin is like. I'd love to know where locals tell their friends to stay when they visit, and why those areas and hotels are special. thanks!

2 Answers

answered by
Janelle from Charleston

For a first-timer to Austin, I'd recommend staying downtown north of the river.  There are options at all budgetary ranges.  Austin's downtown is a great area, although it can get rather crowded and noisy on Friday and Saturday nights as the tourists and hipsters come out to party.  I don't know what your budget is, but I can tell you that if you can afford it The Driskill Hotel (a historic property with a great vibe) is a great place to stay.  Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown Convention Center is a great mid-range choice.  Another person recommended the Hotel San Jose - I haven't stayed there but I did have a few drinks with some friends at their courtyard bar and it's a great spot to hang out.  It does tend to draw the Birkenstock wearing, Taliban-bearded hipster sorts though, something to ponder if that's a turnoff for you.  When I was with Mum and Dad years ago we stayed at the Four Seasons, but I wouldn't recommend it as it is a bit stuffy.

On a side note, if you're going to have your own car, downtown Austin is a traffic gridlock 24/7 and driving through it is best avoided.  Leave the car at your hotel or at one of the lots on the outskirts of downtown and walk.  It's flat and the grid system makes it easy to find your way.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Driskill Hotel (hotel)
  2. Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown Convention Center (hotel)
  3. Hotel San Jose (hotel)
  4. Four Seasons (hotel)
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answered first by

If you're not doing Airbnb to infuse yourself into an actual Austin neighborhood home (Hyde ParkTravis HeightsEast Austin depending on your scene), I'd go with Hotel San Jose on South Congress. I've never stayed in a room since, well, I already have a home here, but the hotel and immediate area are quintessentially Austin. Not just the Austin of today, but the area visitors [and certain crowds of hip locals] have flocked to for decades. You'll have a direct view up to the Texas State Capitol, and easy access to downtown when you're done checking out small businesses in that area. I tend to focus half of my trips around food, but just tell anyone who's been here for 10+ years what you're into (casual, quiet, bustling, nature-driven), and we'll hook you up with a good recommendation based on that. You're right, it's easy to get overwhelmed until someone helps you narrow down your options.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Austin (city)
  2. Hyde Park (attraction)
  3. Travis Heights (neighborhood)
  4. East Austin (attraction)
  5. Hotel San Jose (hotel)
  6. Texas State Capitol (attraction)
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