Courtesy of W Austin
Super hip digs for the cool kids
Popular plate: Don't miss out on the excellent on-site Trace restaurant, which showcases fresh seasonal fare produced at the region's surrounding farms.
Word to the wise: There's a wide range of room choices, but your best bet is to opt for a "Spectacular" room with panoramic views of Lady Bird Lake.
Embodying all the cool, playful, interesting elements of this zany, downright weird (not an insult, they embrace the weirdness) city, this sleek, glass-clad hotel is at the epicentre of all the action. Its opening has been credited with revitalising the Second Street District, a walkable area packed with bars, boutiques and live music venues (in fact, next door is the famed Austin City Limits recording studio), and it is close to the lively 6th Street (it's the street that never sleeps) and across the bridge from cool South Congress.
While the guest rooms here are modern and chic, living up to the W's brand style hallmarks, they're also infused with the city's fresh and fun culture with bright midcentury blue colour schemes and unexpected design elements like floral wallpaper and red serpentine banquettes juxtaposed against lots of white lacquer. The king-size bed was supremely comfortable - as were the 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets - and there's bonus points for the bedside box of chargers for almost any device, highly useful iPod docking station, wonderful Bliss toiletries and the full-length mirror.
But where the W Austin really excels is in its buzzing, 'see and be seen' communal spaces that also draw in the hip locals. This is especially so at ground floor living rooms which flow into one another, with guests partying and sipping handcrafted cocktails as DJs spin some of the 8,000 vinyl records found on the surrounding shelves. The fourth-floor outdoor pool is also a real scene - the perfect spot for whiling away those hot Texan afternoons. We especially enjoyed ending our day wining and dining at Trace restaurant, which far surpasses the usually stale hotel restaurant experience for delicious, healthy farm-to-table cuisine at its finest.
Put simply, it's heaps of fun to stay here.