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Hotel Saint Cecilia: How a rock and roll exile inspired an inner city sanctum

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Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_sign
The sign outside of Saint Cecilia Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_records
Every detail is approved personally by Lambert to fit seamlessly into Saint Cecilia’s philosophy: “A hotel shouldn’t just indulge. It should enrich.” Thus ensuring no luxury is too small to be overlooked; yet there is never anything superfluous to distract. " Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_porch_bed
The hotel exclusively provides Hastens Beds, handmade in Sweden with all natural horsehair, cotton, wool and Swedish pine. Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_red bathroom
Every detail is approved personally by Lambert to fit seamlessly into Saint Cecilia’s philosophy: “A hotel shouldn’t just indulge. It should enrich.” Thus ensuring no luxury is too small to be overlooked; yet there is never anything superfluous to distract. " Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_porch_antique
Most of the furniture is either antiques that Lambert discovered during her extensive world travels or pieces that have been custom-made or designed specifically for the hotel Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_light fixture
“Ball TYP F” light fixture made of round polypropylen balls, each engraved with the designer’s signature. Designed by Verner Panton, 1969. Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_soul
“SOUL”: Acquired from Evan Voyles of Neon Jungles, this now characteristic piece of the estate was reclaimed from an antique sign, which originally read “Louisiana.” Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_ash tray
Small details with Saint Cecilia logos. Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_tub1
The antique bathtub in Suite 3 with a direct eye line to the HD flat screen in the bedroom. Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_porch
Most of the furniture is either antiques that Lambert discovered during her extensive world travels or pieces that have been custom-made or designed specifically for the hotel Photo by Ramona Flume
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_sign
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_records
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_porch_bed
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_red bathroom
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_porch_antique
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_light fixture
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_soul
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_ash tray
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_tub1
Austin Photo Set: Ramona Flume_St Cecilia_july 2011_porch

In 1971, the Rolling Stones needed to shake off some serious tax-related turmoil, so they fled the UK (and a handful of pricey lawsuits) and took up residence in Keith Richard’s villa in the south of France. They spent six months at Villefranche-sur-Mer, the extravagant 16-bedroom mansion, hiding out from Britain’s taxmen like a gang of rock god refugees and recording their iconic album, Exile on Main Street.

 Saint Cecilia's perfect balance of soulful bohemia and enlightened elegance suggests that maybe everyone needs a lavish, self-indulgent escape every once in a while. 

This now famous example of artistic escapism inspired Liz Lambert, owner and designer of the Hotel Saint Cecilia, to create her own inner-city escape. So much so that she renovated an historic 1800s Victorian home right in the middle of Austin's bustling South Congress neighborhood and transformed it into a Zen-like boutique hotel, named after the patron saint of music and poetry.

Saint Cecilia's perfect balance of soulful bohemia and enlightened elegance suggests that maybe everyone needs a lavish, self-indulgent escape every once in a while. That’s not to say you’ll record a seminal album like Exile after a stay at the Cecilia, but there is a definite element of inspiration in the hotel’s atmosphere that seems to encourage a heightened state of self-reflection.

Every detail is approved personally by Lambert to fit seamlessly into Saint Cecilia’s philosophy: “A hotel shouldn’t just indulge. It should enrich.” Ensuring no luxury is too small to be overlooked and nothing superfluous is around to distract.

The exquisitely diverse decor includes everything from antiques Lambert has discovered on her extensive world travels to pop modern designs and custom-made installations designed specifically for the hotel. Like Adam Bork video installations and a 1969 Verner Panton light fixture with a glowing red hive of clustered polypropylen balls, each engraved with the designer's signature. Or the Hastens Beds, handmade in Sweden with all natural horsehair, cotton, wool and Swedish pine. (The Excelsior and 2000T models run between $17,500 and $27,500.) Saint Cecilia is the only hotel in North American to feature them exclusively. The bathrooms have their own swoon-worthy features, like the antique bathtub in Suite 3 with a direct eye line to the HD flat screen in the bedroom and Cote de Bastide bath products.

Music is the patron saint here at Cecilia and there’s more than enough soul to go around.  Every room is equipped with a Geneva sound system and Whetstone Audio turntables (Riga P1s), waiting with pins up for guests to arrive, unload and get down. The poolside “SOUL” neon, acquired from Evan Voyles of Neon Jungles and reclaimed from an antique sign orginally reading "Louisiana," is now a characteristic piece of the estate.

Original prints from the Morrison Hotel Gallery of artistic iconoclasts and soulful sophisticates of the sixties and seventies, like The Rolling Stones and Hunter S. Thompson, hang throughout the hotel's 14 unique units, but Lambert’s design seems to aim above and beyond the mere homage of a fan.

The mystic ambience of this modern day refuge seems more apt to inspire an entirely new generation of poets and musicians. Maybe all they need is an exile from the city and a little time to see the right light on the wall.

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