The iconic Austin Motel debuted a new-and-improved look during SXSW 2017, under the guidance of a celebrated Austin hotel group.
The South Congress staple was family-owned from 1938 until last year when it was scooped up by Greenfield Partners LLC, which owns Hotel San Jose and several other SoCo spots. Liz Lambert and her hospitality group Bunkhouse were tapped to take over the 79-year-old property.
The team promised that the name, iconic sign, unique vibe, and affordability would remain. However, a few updates were in order — after all, it has been around for nearly eight decades.
The funky lobby space now doubles as a retail store offering branded goods and accessories. Changes to the 41 guestrooms highlight the midcentury vibe, with vinyl tufted beds and vintage music posters. Rates start as low as $125 per night for a full bed.
The outdoor pool also received a few additions, including a rooftop deck and bathhouse. A new bar by Jack Sanders and Design Build Adventure offers beverages and snacks. Pool programming is in the works, from live music to punk rock water ballet.
The motel's change in ownership led to the closure of Snack Bar, the kitschy restaurant attached to the property. The space is still being renovated, and a new eatery is expected to open this summer.
Bunkhouse is responsible for revitalizing neighboring hot spot Hotel San Jose, in addition to operating other boutique hotels like Hotel Saint Cecilia, Hotel Havana in San Antonio, Marfa's El Cosmico, and the new Hotel San Cristobal in Mexico.
The group will also open an 89-room boutique hotel, called The Magdalena, on Academy Drive near Hotel Saint Cecilia. Nearby, local hotelier Kimber Cavendish is working with the owners of Guero's Taco Bar to open a second Kimber Modern in the corridor.