Unique Austin Hotels

Unique Austin hotels offer a chance to experience two different sides of the capital city By: Skye Mayring
Horseback riding is one of many activities that guests can enjoy as part of the Total Travaasa package at Travaasa Austin. // C 2013 Travaasa Austin
Horseback riding is one of many activities that guests can enjoy as part of the Total Travaasa package at Travaasa Austin. // C 2013 Travaasa Austin

Blame it on its world-class dining, numerous outdoor activities or annual festivals - it's clear that Austin, Texas, is becoming one of the hippest vacation spots in the U.S. Keeping in line with the city's unofficial motto, "Keep Austin Weird," visitors should consider booking a hotel stay that is as unique as the destination itself.

Travaasa Austin
It's not too often that you get to zoom through a challenge course on a zipline by day and roast marshmallows around the fire by night, but this is "the usual" at Travaasa Austin. The recently rebranded experiential resort and spa encourages guests to try something new, whether it's saluting the sun with yoga at dawn, learning a little ditty on the harmonica or busting a move on the dance floor.

"Guests who want to master the Texas two-step should take one of our classes and, then, go to a honky-tonk, such as the Broken Spoke, to practice their moves," said sales and marking coordinator Skyler Lewis, who also teaches a weekend drawing class in Travaasa's Solidago Gardens. "Guests can also try our mechanical bull riding class or learn about the health benefits of the region's seasonal fruits and vegetables during the Harvest Juicing class hosted at our 24-hour gym."

The 70-room resort is big on fresh, seasonal produce, and guest will soon figure that out for themselves when lounging at the pool with a fresh mint mojito in hand or dining at the community table at Jean's Kitchen. According to Lewis, the resort is working on becoming a full farm-to-table establishment and has purchased about five acres of land for growing fresh vegetables and herbs.

With the Total Travaasa package, guests receive unlimited access to all of the resort's amenities and programming within a single package rate. The plan includes accommodations, three meals daily, unlimited snacks and a daily spa or golf credit of $125. Total Travaasa rates vary based on the length of stay (booking a minimum of three nights results in a savings of at least $150 per room), and rates begin at $313 per person, per night. www.travaasa.com/austin

Heywood Hotel
Ask locals where to find the coolest neighborhood in Austin, and they'll likely tell you to head east. Until 1893, when the city's river was dammed, East Austin was home to the most affluent of residents. Consequently the wealthy abandoned the area and moved out to the west hills where they had scenic views of the manmade lake, now known as Lake Austin, which was created by the dam. Today, however, East Austin is seeing a renaissance: Families are snatching up historic houses and renovating them, businesses are popping up right and left and some of the best new eateries in town (Franklin Barbecue, East Side King, Hillside Farmacy) are making a name for themselves on the east side.

The owners of East Austin's newest boutique property, Heywood Hotel, are helping to bring life back into the neighborhood while maintaining the integrity of the area. The hotel's design combines an original 1925 Craftsman home with the high-tech gadgetry that travelers have come to expect. Each of the property's seven guestrooms has its own personality and features refinished vintage furnishings, high ceilings (most with skylights), huge flat-screen televisions, complimentary Wi-Fi access and Squeezebox music players. Immaculate bathrooms feature generous-size, high-end bath products by Archipelago Botanicals and Kevin Murphy.

The hotel has been in operation for a little over a year, and the response from guests has been overwhelmingly positive, said owner and general manager Kathy Setzer.

"It has been astonishing to me that our guests have enjoyed themselves so much at our hotel," said Setzer. "People say they love Heywood Hotel because we make them feel at home."

Heywood is currently offering a Stay 5, Save 5 promotion in which guests save 5 percent on stays of five nights or longer. Nightly rates begin at $179. www.heywoodhotel.com

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