At this point in my travels, it’s no big secret that I’m a fangirl of Fairmont properties. I’ve stayed at Fairmont hotels in, literally, more than a dozen cities—which is a substantial percentage for a curated collection that boasts just over 70 properties—ranging from Shanghai to Vancouver. And when I saw one was opening in downtown Austin, one of my very favorite U.S. destinations, I may have squealed with joy. But even knowing what I do about the brand, the experience at the Fairmont Austin exceeded all expectations.
There’s a certain kind of funky vibe to Austin; it’s equal parts hip and hipster with a dash (but not too much) of that country-western vibe that pulses through Texas infiltrating certain neighborhoods. The Fairmont Austin’s theme matches suit, utilizing a variety of patterns and colors throughout the 37-story hotel to make it both uniquely Austin and uniquely Fairmont.
It had been two years since my last visit to Austin and I couldn’t believe how the downtown area just north of the Rainey Street Historic District has changed. On my first visit to Austin a decade ago, there wasn’t a whole lot to do on that end of downtown; today, we could easily just spend a weekend exploring the area immediately surrounding the Fairmont Austin.
Many first-timers to Austin may not realize that Town Lake—or Lady Bird—divides the city, and the Fairmont Austin is situated just a couple blocks from Waller Beach on the water. It’s also an easy walk to go see the famed bats as they take their flight each night from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge.
The 1,048 rooms comprising the Fairmont Austin are decked out in rich hues, bold patterns and brilliant gold hardware that had me rethinking my own home design.
But the big selling point, in my opinion, is the view, which peeks through floor-to-ceiling windows. I mean, can you even? It’s like a scene out of a movie. After dinner one night, SVV threw a pillow down in front of the window as he digested and marveled at the sparkling lights glittering hundreds of feet below us. I’ve never seen Austin from this vantage point.
Definitely request a room on as high a floor as you can get when booking at the Fairmont Austin.
Let’s be frank here: If you’re going to visit Austin in the heat of summer, you must have a pool. It’s simply a non-negotiable for me and SVV, and the Fairmont Austin’s pool was one of the best I’ve seen in ages.
Despite being a city hotel, which usually translates to a pool barely bigger than a hot tub, the pool deck was massive with chairs that actually sat in the water. Groovy!
We contemplated spending our entire last day in Austin at the pool, too—100+ degrees will do that to a person!—but ultimately decided to get out and explore instead. I’m still wishing myself back to that spot, though, the hotter it gets back home in Tennessee.
The Fairmont Spa—where do I begin? Well, first of all, let’s talk about how the women’s lounge is pure heaven.
Or maybe we should discuss the blissfully indulgent Texas Hill Country Awakening that both SVV and I had—in separate rooms (his decision, boo), but also available as a couples treatment—that incorporates a foot massage, body scrub, scalp massage and full-body massage using mesquite wood (similar to a hot stone treatment) and aromatic herbs from the surrounding Texas Hill Country.
Either way, if I were to do it all again (and I definitely will!), I’d plan a full spa afternoon with no evening obligations so I could take full advantage of all the services and facilities included with my treatment.
The Food + Drink
Our two-hour flight from Nashville to Austin fell over lunchtime, so we arrived ready to eat—and the Fulton lounge was right there waiting for us upon check-in.
I’ll fully admit that we stopped in at Fulton several times in the coming days. There are always small bites available, as well as a broader food menu, but more importantly, the cocktails are divine. And how funny that one of the featured drinks comprised George Dickel Rye, from my hometown in Tennessee!
For dinner, we headed to Garrison, a modern American grill house that not only boasts hearty cuts of steak, but also has plenty for vegetarians to order, too. Even though I’m very much a meat eater, I also lean heavily veggie at times simply because I find the vegetarian dishes more interesting, and Garrison’s BBQ cauliflower, truffled tater tots and fermented carrot dishes were all truly divine. The hand-rolled dandelion pasta with braised rabbit, ricotta and pickled ramps, however, was the overall winner for me.
In the same area of the hotel as Garrison, there’s also food hall, Revue, with a few different stations ranging from French to Asian fusion that is ideal for groups of diners with different tastes.
On our one full day at the Fairmont, we planned to get out and about and explore Austin—then got lured in by the pool and never left the hotel. And when I say “never left,” I mean never left the seventh floor where the pool was located! Lucky for us, the pool has dedicated servers, so we ordered poke bowls and kombucha mocktails off the Rules & Regs menu without ever leaving our poolside perch. My idea of a dream day on the road!
I regret we didn’t check out Good Things coffee shop right next to the food hall, but that’s because we were simply too stuffed from all the other meals we ate.
The Fairmont Gold Lounge
We stayed on the Fairmont Gold floor, which gives us access to the lounge—complimentary meals and snacks throughout the day, free non-alcoholic beverages and an honor bar—and also offers some sweeping views of Austin. The Fairmont Gold floor offers several different room levels, in addition to suites, and it’s nice to have your own dedicated staff member always on call in the lounge should you need anything.
Our time in Austin was such a spectacular excuse to unplug, and I’ll be writing a full weekend guide to the city next, as camping out in the Fairmont Austin was not all we did. (We also electric scootered around town!)
Anything you want to know about my favorite city of Texas?
This project is a collaboration with Travel Mindset and Fairmont. All opinions are my own.