Archive for Austin Hotels

Deep In The Heart of Texas…

Posted in Food, Hotels, Travel with tags , , on March 17, 2009 by travelwizard


It’s Texas time. Yep, SXSW is here again, the annual, Austin based music festival that spans a week in the middle of March each year. In preparation for 6 solid days of beer at breakfast, BBQ and bands, I have been steadily increasing my beef  and beer’s kinda like training for the marathon, except instead of improving my BMI, I will be expanding my stomach so that I arrive in Texas prepped and ready Here’s a rundown of my favorite spots to take a break from music madness – and it is truly madness. If you’ve never been, it’s like nothing you have ever done and it requires great stamina, a good pair of sneakers and a full stomach.

Here’s my quick guide to navigating Austin and surviving SXSW:

Where to Stay: The Driskill Hotel

The Driskill is one of the oldest establishments in Austin. Started in 1886 by a distinguished cattle baron, The Driskill is one of my favorite hotels in Austin. It’s design is distinctly southern, right down to the hospitality and taxidermy animals. Each room is stately and luxurious and it’s location right on 6th street makes it a perfect hotel to navigate the festival. 

Eat right:

Texas cuisine offers up two distinctly delicious choices – Tex Mex and BBQ. You can’t go wrong with either but lucky for you, there is plenty of time for both. For breakfast, I always make a point to head to Polvo’s, an Austin institution for Mexican food. GOD, Tex-mex is amazing. I especially crave the breakfast taco’s here. I don’t even want to know what kind of calories exist within this food because I don’t want to kill my buzz. I shall refrain from investigating. 

For lunch, there is BBQ. Delicious, delicious BBQ. The brisket, those ribs, THAT SAUCE. It’s criminal how good it can be. It’s really the only time I feel justified eating numerous animals at the same time. There are a few place in and around Austin I tend to hit up. The first being Rudy’s…a fantastic spot right outside of town that seriously has the best brisket and baby backs west of the Texas border. Okay..maybe it is not that good but it’s pretty special. This year I might venture to Green Mesquite or Salt Lick if I procure a car but sometimes that can be tricky when navigating set times for over 1500 bands. Green Mesquite was recently featured on one of my favorite late night food network shows – Diners, Drive In’s and Dives. I swear Guy Fieri has the best job but I really want home to lose the bleached hair – but that’ s a side issue.

What to See… many great bands to see…The Temper Trap, Fool’s Gold, Lissy Trullie, Little Boots, Pains at Being Pure At Heart, Glasser, Rye Rye and so on and so on. 


Did I mention I went to the Rodeo pre-sxsw? A staple of Texas culture. 



Five Hotels Under 250 In Places You Actually Want To Go

Posted in Hotels with tags , , , , on September 19, 2008 by travelwizard

Nothing spells inspiration for me quite like a nice hotel for a good price. Call me shallow, call me a woman of material pleasures- whatever you like- but I am simply tickled pink when I find a a great deal on a stylish and chic hotel. Since my dollars are never seem to flow with any great abundance, I have mastered the art of finding such places. Below are five  of my favorites from over the years:

1. Gaige House – Sonoma, California

Gaige House, j’ai taime. Each of the twenty-three rooms in this boutique inn is decorated with Asian -inspired elegance and many feature a Japanese-style soaking tubs. There is a pool and spa on -site so if you feel like skipping the usual winery hoping, you can still treat yourself to plenty of pampering. The rooms are on the bigger side and feature all your standard luxuries, flat screens, know..the usual. Each afternoon, there is complimentary wine tasting and every morning, a wonderful breakfast awaits you. I am still amazed that I can actually afford this place because it truly is great value for the money.

2. Hotel San Jose – Austin, Texas

Austin is a great town. I was born in Texas so I visited there a bunch growing up and now my work brings me there once a year for the SXSW Music Conference. There are tasty restaurants, stylish shops and above all, great hotels. There is also a thriving music scene and it is particular fun to hit the town during two of it biggest events, Austin City Limits in September and SXSW in March. I came across the Hotel San Jose on my last visit to Austin and I was really excited to find such a modern boutique hotel right in the heart of downtown. Texas isn’t exactly known to be cutting edge and many of the hotels, while nice (particularly The Driskill), aren’t exactly hip. The Hotel San Jose is perfect example of a small, hip, minimal boutique hotel. The hotel describes themselves as a”hotel with soul” and I think this is an apt statement. Austin is an incredibly youth-oriented city and the hotel reflects its residents. It is fun and modern while managing to retain it’s southwestern charm. Give it a try next time you are in Austin.

3. Borgo Argenina – Tuscany, Florence

Ever see the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun” ? Well, if you haven’t you aren’t missing’s shylock really, but the scenery is amazing. Why does this movie matter to this post? Well, because Borgo Argenina is located across the hillside from where the movie was filmed. It is truly gorgeous and the innkeeper, a former fashion designer turned hotelier, was a dream as far directing us to the finest restaurants the region has to offer. If a sleek, chic and well appointed room is the peanut butter, than a good host/hostess is surely the jelly. Put them together and you have a tasty…er..hotel. Smack dab in the middle of Tuscany, this is a beautiful place to set up camp while taking day trips to many of the amazing towns that dot the region. Borgo Argenina is everything you hope to discover when searching for a hotel in Tuscany. It exteriors are rustic and indicative of their history and it’s interiors are comfortable, welcoming and utterly calming. It is also tucked away up a dirt road, making it incredibly serene for maximum relaxation.

4. The Palomar – San Francisco

The Palomar is one of several Kimpton Hotels in the San Francisco area but it is by far my personal favorite. As far as San Francisco goes, this hotel is steal compared to the rest of them. First off, there is free wi-fi. One of the things I hate when I go to a hotel is paying for wi-fi. It is ridiculous to pay what roughly amounts to your monthly wi-fi bill for five days of internet. In this day and age, I find it pretty unacceptable. Beyond the benefits of free technology, the rooms are incredibly spacious as is the bathroom. The decor is modern with somewhat gaudy accents but beds are huge and comfortable as are the bathrooms. The Palomar is better located in downtown than most hotels as you are conveniently situated close to the shops, the freeway and The BART! All of this for an average price of 220 a night. For San Francisco, this is a steal.

5. Mas De Bassette – Provence, France

This charming provincial French B&B is located right in the middle of one of the prettiest regions of France.  It is virtually equadistant from Avingon, Gourdes, St. Remy and Isle Sur la Sourge (home to some of the best flea markets in France). The property itself is sprawling and if you explore around, you will find peacocks are among you, squawking away to their hearts content. The rooms are sparse and modern and lit in a way that is extremely warm and welcoming. Like all B&B’s, breakfast is included and if you are not an early riser, your hosts will leave your breakfast on a tray in the dining room, where you an take it anywhere on the property and eat it. Our hosts made for wonderful tour guides, and they were all too happy to give us great restaurant recommendations along with maps of the region and suggestions on things to do. It is a fantastic place to get away in relax. go make those reservations with all of your disposable income in this booming economy. 🙂