The Suite life

Unusual South Congress spot will house Austin's newest boutique hotel

Unusual South Congress spot will house Austin's newest boutique hotel

The Guesthouse Chicago
The Guesthouse Hotel in Chicago has a No. 1 rating thanks to amenities like larger-than-average rooms.  The Guesthouse Hotel/Facebook

An $18 million boutique hotel is planned for an unusual spot on South Congress Avenue — the site of a now-closed restaurant, between an H-E-B grocery store and a church.

The project, first proposed in 2015, is working its way through the City of Austin’s permit approval process. If all goes as planned, construction will start in the first quarter of 2018, and the hotel will open in the second quarter of 2019, David Krug, developer of the hotel, tells CultureMap.

The 78-room hotel would sit on a narrow 1.5-acre plot at 2510 S. Congress Ave. where a Chinese restaurant previously operated. The site is just south of West Oltorf Street.

The hotel is being designed by Austin-based Levy Architects, and is slated to feature studios, as well as one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, with an average size of 600 square feet. That’s roughly double the size of a typical hotel room.

Krug says room rates will be comparable to those charged by other boutique hotels in Austin.

Amenities on tap for the four-story project include a coffee bar, meeting space, an exercise room, a rooftop deck, a swimming pool, and three cabanas.

Neither a restaurant nor a traditional bar is in the works. However, each studio will have a kitchenette, and each suite will be equipped with a kitchen.

Krug says the South Congress location was chosen to create an “urban oasis” in a neighborhood where guests could take advantage of local culture, restaurants, and retail establishments.

“Our location is a hidden gem, and we have 1.5 acres to create a very unique hotel experience and are really happy with our site selection,” he says.

The project had been called The Guesthouse Hotel, but Krug says a new name will be unveiled at the groundbreaking.

Eighteen months ago, Krug and his family moved from Chicago to Austin to help push the project toward completion.

The developer says the hotel will serve three categories of “modern traveler” — families, small groups, and “road warriors.” The hotel’s marketing slogan is “Live Like a Local.”

“We plan to partner with as many local businesses as possible to provide a unique lodging experience for our guests,” the developer wrote to residents of the Dawson neighborhood, where the project is set to be built. “We hope we will be the first place you think of when a friend or family member is visiting and is looking for a local place to stay.”

Some neighbors have objected to the planned hotel. For instance, in a filing with the City of Austin, a representative of a church adjacent to the 1.5-acre lot complained that the proposed “noisy vacation/party hotel” would not be a good fit for the area.

The Austin property will be owned and managed by the same team behind Chicago’s The Guesthouse Hotel, which Krug owns. The hotel, housed in a former condo building, is in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood; room rates recently started at $169 a night. On TripAdvisor, it’s rated No. 1 among 192 hotels in Chicago.

“We offer something that doesn’t really exist. It’s an experience that marries the best of what people get through an Airbnb or HomeAway booking with a professional staff and amenities on-site,” Krug says. “We want people to feel at home.”