OPULENT UPGRADE

Iconic Austin hotel unveils modern Texas makeover of historic suites

Iconic Austin hotel unveils modern Texas makeover of historic suites

The Driskill
The 135-year-old hotel is in the midst of a major upgrade. Courtesy of The Driskill
Cattle Baron suite
The Cattle Baron suite's living room area. Courtesy of The Driskill
LBJ suite bathroom
The bathroom in the LBJ suite. Courtesy of The Driskill
LBJ suite living room
The LBJ suite's living room. Courtesy of The Driskill
Brazos suite balcony
Downtown views from the Brazos suite balcony. Courtesy of The Driskill
The Driskill
Cattle Baron suite
LBJ suite bathroom
LBJ suite living room
Brazos suite balcony

The legendary grande dame of Austin’s lodging industry has unveiled some newly renovated guest suites that are now available for hotel guests to reserve.

The Driskill, the Austin hotel built in 1886 and long an iconic Sixth Street destination, announced Thursday, September 9 that renovation on 14 of its guest suites on the historic side of the property has been completed as part of a major ongoing refresh of the entire hotel.

Local architecture firm Clayton Korte (previously Clayton & Little) led the design for the newly revitalized suites, which now embody a stylish testimony to modern Texas charm, according to the hotel.

This upgrade marks the first renovation of the hotel’s rooms since 1998.

Located downtown at 604 Brazos St. on the corner of Sixth Street, The Driskill boasts 189 guest rooms and signature suites and possesses an elegant flair and opulence. And with its long history of providing guests — including a few U.S. presidents — a measure of luxury not often found elsewhere in the city, the hotel showpiece for the one-time frontier town of Austin still rivals the palaces of other big cities. 

“Throughout history, The Driskill has been a legendary landmark in Texas hospitality,” says Chris Collins, general manager. “We’re excited to invite Texans and visitors alike into the newly updated suites, which have been modernized for maximum comfort but still maintain the same historic charm with their own personality.”

When The Driskill was originally imagined and built by cattle baron, businessman, and civic leader Colonel Jesse Driskill in the 1880s, the concept cost an estimated $400,000 — the equivalent of $92 million in 2021. In 2013, the hotel was acquired as a part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, with $8 million in upgrades planned for the property.

Plans for future hotel upgrades include a full renovation of all 175 guest rooms, which will begin in September 2022. Other hotel spaces, including The Driskill Bar, will also be refinished.

(It’s fair to assume that despite the renovations, the captivating spooky quality of the so-called haunted hotel remains, and guests may still smell wafts of Colonel Driskill’s cigar or hear the laughter of a little girl who died in the 1880s after falling from the grand staircase.)

The renovation of the 14 guest suites further gives the custom-designed spaces a sophisticated air, but with a more modern feel that maintains references to the property’s rich 135-year history.

Working with interior designers from Houston-based Rottet Studio, Clayton Korte aimed to uncover architectural details that summon the unique personality of each space, carefully repurposing existing artwork and historic paintings while also creating more functionality for the suites. In addition, redesigned bathroom layouts, new fixtures, and finishes aim to enhance guests’ experiences as they slip into the kind of sleek luxury that is uncommon in historic hotels.

The newly renovated Cattle Baron suite, for example, a posh 1,200-square-foot space, now includes even more luxurious amenities, like a clawfoot soaking tub, a walk-in shower, a spacious living and dining area with a private wet bar, and a separate bedroom with two queen beds, a vanity area, and a vast closet.

“We are honored to continue working at The Driskill with the Hyatt Unbound team and Rottet Studios,” says George Wilcox, associate partner at Clayton Korte. “We believe that our design involvement at this Austin icon should always be tempered with respect for the history of the hotel, with an eye towards keeping it as a relevant and current part of Austin’s ever-changing hospitality landscape.”