Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wanderlust: Austin's Hotel San José

Austin, Texas ranks pretty high among my favorite places on the planet. There's just something about that city -- I love its laid-back vibe and lack of pretense, incredible music scene, funky vintage shops, fiery Tex-Mex fare and savory barbecue, and its citizens' seemingly universal dedication to having a good time. (Plus, you really haven't lived until you've seen Junior Brown at the Continental Club.)

In fact, Nick and I would pull up stakes and move to Austin in a heartbeat if I wasn't so pathologically averse to the heat. (I get borderline homicidal any time the mercury inches past 70, and verge on psychotic when it crosses 90. Strangely, though, I did just fine during both of our summertime stays in the Texas capitol. I think maybe I psychologically fight the heat at home here in Northern California, but have no choice but to surrender to it in the sultry South.)

Anyway, I've been daydreaming about our (purely hypothetical) next trip to the Lone Star State -- maybe we could hit SXSW next year? -- and was just reminded of Austin's Hotel San José. We've never stayed there, but know several devotees of the revamped 1939 motor lodge and its utilitarian-chic decor. It's definitely on the "must" list for a future visit, and with rooms starting at $95 a night, it's not a bad deal, either.

Take a gander:

Photo from Southern Living

Have you stayed at the Hotel San José? If so, what did you think? Any other Austin tips? Please share!

(Also on the agenda for our next venture south: A side trip to Marfa. Super-trendy, I know -- but it looks amazing.)


Elizabeth said...

trendy or not, Marfa is one of my favorite places ever. I seriously think about moving there at times.

Leah said...

Elizabeth -- I didn't mean that Marfa itself is trendy, just that saying that one wants to go there probably is. ;-)

Anyway, check out Allison Smith's photos of Marfa. Breathtaking.

JPM said...

You are so on my wavelength today! :) I am from Austin, but living far away in Zurich now. Last trip home we stayed at the San Jose for three seperate visits, in my old neighborhood. These pictures are sublime, but even they don't do justice to the gorgeousness of the hotel, the unique furnishings, and lush foliage, not to mention the staff and their wonderful friendliness and hospitality. I think there is no better place to stay for a true Austin feeling, and so much to see and do and walkable from there. True it does get hot :), but if you go, remedy the heat with a dip in Barton Spring Pool. If you go in the evening it will cool you down beautifully for a good night's sleep. Also I believe the proprietors of the San Jose are doing similarly wonderful things now at a hotel in Dallas, the Belmont Hotel.

Just today I was looking for images of the San Jose, particularly the beds...I am in love with the simple modern custom bed frames in all the rooms.

If you go for SXSW or anytime in the spring, book early early early!
If you can't get in to the San Jose, for comparable convenience and a heavy dose of quirk, you might consider its next door neighbor, the Austin Motel motor court hotel. Just down the road towards the capital, it is a reasonably priced second choice. The decor is unusual and heavily air conditioned!, though not anything like the sparse modern heaven of the San Jose. You can walk to all the interesting things on South Congress, and even enjoy Jo's Coffee or the bar lounge at the San Jose from there.

In Marfa, be sure to check out Foodshark!

huebscher said...

But Leah, that's why God created A/C...and Barton Springs Pool, a mere mile away from the HSJ and 72 degrees year-round!

If you make it to Austin, I'm buying the champassions/micheladas at the hotel bar.

Tiffany S. said...

Lovely - I've actually always wanted to go to San Antonio but would check out Austin if I had the chance.

It's going to be 82 in VA this weekend when we visit and I'm NOT looking forward to it.

Random thought - if you ever want to hit the Coachella Music fest...I have a casita you can stay in. You just have to wave to my mom now and then (she's wildly wacky...those are her words).

Thanks for the beautiful pics!

Lisa said...

Long time reader, first time poster - I'm an Austinite and have stayed at the gorgeous Hotel San Jose. It is as beautiful as the pictures make it seem. The walls are paper thin though so make sure you plan on staying up as late as your neighbors, that or bring ear plugs :-) Love your blog!

Sherra said...

I have lived in TX for 10 yrs and never heard of Marfa! Sounds like something to see. I have heard of the San Jose though and have heard it is the coolest place to be in Austin. Also heard it is impossible to get in to during SXSW because it is the celebrity hang out during the festival. Just FYI!

Turquoise said...

These images look so familiar...I have seen this hotel before (in a magazine a few years ago) and loved it. Thank you for posting the images...looks like wonderful place to stay.

Leah said...

Huebscher and Tiffany -- you guys are on! ;-)

Everyone else -- thanks so much for the tips!

CJ said...

I haven't stayed at the Hotel San Jose but they have an excellent bar/cafe that I have hung out in.

LB said...

JPM is dead on. I live in Dallas (moved here from San Francisco - very hard to do) and I escape to Austin whenever I can. San Jose is very cool, as is the entire street it is on (South Congress). I second checking out the Belmont in Dallas if you find yourself in the Big D, if not for the night then at least the bar.

Catherine said...

Love, love HSJ. Its owner, Liz Lambert, is beloved here. She actually just opened another hotel nearby called St. Cecilia (patron saint of musicians, I believe) which is equally special.

While you're here, take a walk north on Congress Ave. (or take the Dillo (trolley) that runs up and down Congres for $.50 all day) and check out 2ND Street District--six blocks of shopping and dining, and more! It's the perfect example of the "newer" Austin, but still mostly locally owned and very Austin.

marquel said...

love the san jose! i've stayed there a few times and have never been disappointed...all of south congress is a great place to visit.

we moved to ft. worth from austin...and try to get back as much as possible, though we feel like ft. worth may be an up-and-coming austin-type city.

el cosmico (another liz lambert propert) should be opening in marfa soon!

Social Marketing Mama said...

..the photos are AMAZING!!! what beautiful clarity.

casacaudill said...

Back when I was just starting out my PR career, I had a client in Austin. They wanted to fly the "whole team" out there to meet the execs and spend the whole day brainstorming. I said, "I know where we should stay - The San Jose Hotel!" The supervisor was like, "oh yes, please." Then she told me to arrange the airfare and book the rooms. Then, she told me I wasn't going b/c I was too junior. To this day, I am so peeved that I missed out on probably my one and only opportunity to stay there. :-)

Dirk said...

Interesting photos. You have a nice blog. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I love the Hotel San Jose! It's amazing! I enjoyed 5 days there- you'll love it!


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