LivingTravelWestin Austin Downtown

Westin Austin Downtown

When I walked into the Westin outpost in downtown Austin for the first time, I couldn’t help but notice the upbeat attitude of the valet and front desk staff. His sunny dispositions may have had something to do with the fact that it was a beautiful early spring day, but it was an excellent first impression nonetheless. At the front desk, I was offered some of the hotel’s fruit-infused water, but a staff member said, “It might have too much lemon.” My involuntary frown confirmed that this was indeed the case.

Still, you get bonus points for honesty.

Hotel Tour

The open and airy lobby has a fish tank feel, but in a good way. The floor-to-ceiling windows are just feet from the street, making it as if you are part of a bustling street scene while simultaneously relaxing in heated comfort. Adding to the Zen setting, a vertical garden or ‘living wall’ provides a relaxing focal point near reception. The chain is incorporating gardens into many of its hotels in response to research showing that bringing a touch of nature indoors can improve air quality and possibly even lower blood pressure.

Next to the living wall is the VIP Dog Guest Board, featuring the names of the canine companions currently in the hotel. The hotel welcomes dogs up to 70 pounds.

Jamie Moore, the hotel’s senior marketing manager, pointed out elements of the guitar motif throughout the property. Without their help, I’m sure I would have missed half of them. In fact, I didn’t even notice the big picture of a guitar behind the reception desk until I saw it from a distance. The long ropes hanging from the ceiling in the dining room of the restaurant represent the ropes. The cutout shapes in the lobby ceiling and living wall were inspired by cutouts on a Dobro guitar.

And frets and strings, well, they’re everywhere: on the stairs, on the carpet, in the artwork. The tiles around the rooftop pool look like mother-of-pearl spike guards. Although the motif is ubiquitous, it is not dominant. All in all, the 366-room hotel is beautifully designed with clean lines and tons of natural light.

Even in areas that do not have natural light, the lighting is very similar to sunlight. When you look in the mirror in the morning, you will see a reasonable facsimile of yourself and not some strange green monster. The 16 meeting rooms, which can be configured in various ways, also feature excellent lighting and / or large windows. I guess long meetings would be much more bearable, and productive, without the buzz and flicker of fluorescent lights.

Wellness on the go

Business travelers in particular will appreciate the many ways Westin helps them maintain their exercise routine while on the road. The huge, well-equipped gym is open 24 hours. If you need a quick snack, there is fresh fruit and water in the gym’s mini fridge. Guests can also borrow running shoes so they don’t have to pack them. The hotel’s career concierge can provide route recommendations and help organize group tours. In-room menus even feature dish suggestions that provide an energy boost or promote restful sleep.

Antone is at your door

With the help of concierge Dave Dart, I took a quick tour of Antone’s new nightclub, which is right across the street. It is a large open space with the stage to the rear and a long bar running along the left side. The room is smaller than the last location, but there is also a second floor reserved for special events. Co-owner Will Bridges said they briefly considered removing part of the first-floor ceiling to open up the space, but that would have removed a significant amount of square footage.

Instead, they decided to connect music from the first floor for those attending special events on the second floor. The club stays true to its blues roots with a full lineup of local and regional blues, funk and R&B acts.

If you’re looking for another style of music, Dart can point you in the right direction. He has been involved in the Austin music scene, in various capacities, for decades. He even started his own non-profit organization, Dart Music International, to bring innovative musicians from around the world to the United States. As part of his role as a janitor (and because he loves discovering new artists), he strives to see new bands on a regular basis. base and stay on top of Austin’s ever-changing music landscape.

Stella San Jac

While waiting for my table at the hotel restaurant, I enjoyed a slice of something I’ve never had before: beetroot chips. They are quite similar to French fries, but they are a bit thicker and have a hint of sweetness. I also tried the San Jac lemonade, made with lemon-infused vodka, mint, and fresh lemon juice. Unlike the infused water at the reception, the refreshing cocktail had just the right amount of acidity.

Shortly after I sat down, the waiter suggested the cured cheese and meat appetizer. I immediately said “yes,” completely forgetting about my plan to order the cookies. Virtually every Stella San Jac review mentions cookies in brilliant terms. When I realized my mistake, it was already too full. I’ll have to go back to try the cookies. However, the prosciutto and butter-rich cheese were excellent.

For my entree, I ordered the fillet steak. I probably should have ordered one of the “Stella signature” dishes, but what can I say? My tastes are simple, and the steak, served with a homemade hot sauce and potato gratin, was simply delicious.

My sweet suite

The two bedroom suite would be excellent for someone traveling on business. The outside living / dining room could be used for small gatherings or entertaining guests. It even has its own HDTV, along with a sofa and dining table. Of course, it can be difficult to focus on working with the incredible views in both rooms. The double pane windows also do a great job of blocking noise from the streets below.

My attention, however, was immediately drawn to the hot tub. I started it up, jumped inside, and was happily hit by jets of water. I found that the long handles on the faucet made it easy to adjust the hot and cold water with your feet.

After a long, relaxing bath, I settled into the luxurious bed and watched TV for a while. The Heavenly Bed lived up to its name because the next thing I knew it was morning.

When I stumbled upon the outer room, I noticed that the curtains were still wide open, and it wasn’t decent. Fortunately, the closest skyscrapers are a few blocks away, so I hope no one saw me before I rushed back to the bedroom.

Now fully dressed but still dazed, I started making coffee. But where is the coffee pot? It is in a small corner and almost hidden by the heavy curtains on the adjacent wall. I suppose the unconventional design of the room was largely dictated by the fact that two walls are made up almost entirely of windows.

After enjoying my coffee, I was tempted to return to the hot tub. Instead, I stepped into the spacious glass shower. The massive 6-by-6-inch “rain” shower head produces a shower experience similar to taking a stroll in a light summer rain. It also leaves you very clean, from head to toe.

Westin Austin Downtown / 310 East 5th Street / (512) 391-2333

As is common in the travel industry, the writer received ancillary services for review purposes. While you have not influenced this review, believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

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