At my first SXSW as an official Austin resident, I found myself sipping a frozen mezcal margarita and lounging at the bamboo-lined pool at the Hotel San Jose, surrounded by a sea of hip denizens wearing jeans, Stetsons, and intricately designed sleeve tattoos. Jason Schwartzman and his French bulldog had just ambled by, and Johnny Depp was brooding in the only dark corner of the light-filled courtyard. And I thought to myself, Okay, Toto, we may not be in Kansas anymore, but that’s okay—because this is the coolest city in Texas, and quite possibly America.
When it comes to hotels in Austin, distinctive coolness shines through in a myriad of ways. Think inventive restaurant concepts from Netflix-popular chefs, bohemian-inspired décor juxtaposed with haughty Texan grandeur, and hip, sleekly designed pools dotted with canned rosé-sipping locals and tourists alike (hey, it’s humid as heck here for most of the year!) From tiny, no-frills boutiques to grand downtown properties to modern art marvels, here are some of the coolest hotels in the city.