Visionary hospitality group checks into South Austin with biggest hotel ever

Visionary hospitality group checks into South Austin with newest hotel

Hotel Magdalena
The Magdalena is the first first mass timber hotel constructed in North America and was assembled in pieces. Photo by Nick Simonite
Hotel Magdalena
The lobby features a tambour front desk and a custom terrazzo floor. Photo by Nick Simonite
Hotel Magdalena
Each room comes with one of four color schemes. Photo by Nick Simonite
Hotel Magdalena
The rooms invoke '70s lakehouse vibes. Photo by Nick Simonite
Summer House on Music Lane Hotel Magdalena
Bowtie pasta bowl from Summer House on Music Lane. Photo by Jess Attie
Summer House on Music Lane Hotel Magdalena
Cocktails, including frozens, round out the offerings. Photo by Jess Attie
Hotel Magdalena
The hotel bar is for guests only. Photo by Nick Simonite
Hotel Magdalena
Hotel Magdalena
Hotel Magdalena
Hotel Magdalena
Summer House on Music Lane Hotel Magdalena
Summer House on Music Lane Hotel Magdalena
Hotel Magdalena

Bunkhouse Group, the visionary hospitality company behind properties such as Hotel San Jose, Hotel Saint Cecilia, and Marfa's El Cosmico, is checking in with its biggest hotel to date. Hotel Magdalena quietly opened on South Congress in late September, forming the cornerstone of the trendy Music Lane development.

At 89 rooms, the Magdalena is the largest hotel to date for the Bunkhouse brand, which sold a majority stake of its company to Standard International in 2016, but still oversees much of the day-to-day operations and design. By contrast, the Saint Cecilia, which shares a property line with the Magdalena, has just 14 rooms, while nearby the San Jose boasts 40.

Checking in and checking out
Guests of the Hotel Magdalena are greeted by a massive heritage oak with branches snaking through the first two levels and setting the tone for the '70s lake house vibes that inspired the design. Impeccable landscaping by Ten Eyck Landscape Architects is weaved throughout the property, and adds cohesion to the hotel's four distinctly different buildings, designed by the San Antonio-based Lake Flato Architects.

Exterior walkways connect the spaces, adding another element of the lake house look. The walkways, notes a release, are composed from mass timber, or wood that has been glued together under pressure or nailed in layers. Mass timber is not only stronger than traditional materials, but more environmentally friendly. The Magdalena, according to a release, is the first mass timber hotel constructed in North America. (Like all things chic, mass timber has already caught on in Europe, according this article by the Yale School of the Environment.)

Hotel rooms are outfitted with their own color scheme — red, blue, yellow, or green — reenforced by custom Spanish tile and accented with walnut wood built-in beds and inlay desks, Sferra bed linens, and Santa & Cole lamps.

Each room is outfitted with windows at both ends (to help facilitate a cross breeze, notes a release, which is very lake house) and poured concrete floors. Even the TVs are thoughtfully placed, hidden behind a curtain so as not to draw focus from the design.

Amenities galore
Outside the rooms, there is much to explore including the hotel's thoughtful lobby shop — a Bunkhouse calling card. The shop itself is naturally very, very cool, offering a mix of locally made goods, sundries, and hard-to-find books. The space, with its Scott Newton photographs lining the walls and in the incense-filled air (another classic Bunkhouse moment), also sells vintage-inspired bathing suits and Magdalena-branded gear for those ready to fully commit to their (temporary) new digs.

And what's a lake house-inspired hotel without the, ahem, lake? The guest-only pool bar surrounds a 900-square-foot pool, complete with stamped concrete tile walls and loungers. Just above the pool area sits an event space. That building, like the rest of the hotel, was built at a different elevation, a design choice meant as an "homage to the slopes of Barton Springs."

Leading the hotel's onsite restaurant, Summer House on Music Lane, is Austin hospitality vet Jeffrey Hundelt, who previously worked at Launderette and Fresa's. As executive chef, Hundelt has crafted a menu focused on grilled local meats and seasonal vegetables. Both menus are currently available for in-room dining, and the restaurant opens to the public in November.

A breakfast menu of classic fare — think eggs in Purgatory, a breakfast sandwich, and pastries — gives way to an accessible all-day menu that will feel familiar to Launderette fans. (Hot tip: the delicious Forager isn't to be missed and don't skip dessert.)

A beverage menu rounds out the options, including a wine program boasting "a vast selection of bold wines with a focus on sparkling varietals including organic and biodynamic producers." Cocktails, including frozen drinks and classic hot-weather sippers, and a locally sourced beer list are also available.