The Hyatt Regency Austin’s View of the River from a Confirmed Suite

One of my favorite things is a great hotel suite. I recognize that’s not everyone’s preference, many of my readers will say “I don’t need a suite, I don’t spend time in the room anyway, get out and see a great city!” And I don’t disagree with that. But I also enjoy a resort that I can spend time at and relax, a vacation where I’m not running around the whole time. My normal life is at warp speed so being able to take time where I’m sedentary means a lot.

Even in a city, and when not on vacation, I love a sanctuary. By my nature I’m an introvert. So if I’m attending a conference, or a bunch of meetings, or even just doing sightseeing it’s nice to have a great space to return to — large, gorgeous, a place to spread out and relax in and decompress because even just being around masses of people tires me out. Plus I just enjoy different spaces, and appreciating rooms that are almost works of art.

So I’m always after great suites, and try to flag hotels that offer them attainably and strategies to get them (see for instance “How to Score the Best Hotel Room Upgrades” and “Using Hotel Points for Suites and Upgraded Rooms”).

Meanwhile I wrote recently that Austin is a great city, one of my favorites for culture and for food. It’s also a pretty good (though not great) hotel city, with plenty of options.

I recently stayed at the Hyatt Regency Austin and confirmed a suite there at time of booking, and found the suite to be notable so wanted to pass along the experience.

Now, my all-time favorite ‘entry level’ suites that you can confirm with points or a Diamond confirmed suite upgrade are at the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, and the Andaz 5th Avenue.

And I don’t think the suite at the Hyatt Regency Austin quite compares to those!

I stayed at the Hyatt seven months earlier, not in a suite and found the hotel perfectly serviceable. It’s a busy atrium-style hotel that can get a bit noisy (oddly, I can hear plenty of noise right in the doorway of the room but step back a few feeet and it goes silent).

I needed to be back in Austin. Because my confirmed suite upgrade at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco wasn’t honored, I had an expiring Diamond suite upgrade certificate that needed to be applied to a reservation by the end of February (though the stay can be consumed any time after that which is bookable by the expiration date). The only stay longer than a couple of nights that I could reserve at the time was Austin so I went ahead and applied the upgrade.

I was actually briefly tempted to cancel my Hyatt Regency stay and book The Driskill which just became a Hyatt. It was initially showing no availability, but finally opened up just before my stay. It was more expensive than the Regency with no suites available, and giving up the Regency booking would have meant letting my confirmed suite upgrade cert go unused so I decided against. I actually met Mommy Points and her husband for drinks there, and judging from the lobby and bar and from her review of the hotel I’m actually pleased with my decision. It’s a gorgeous old-line property but I prefer modern, and it seems like it could use some investment to bring it up to par.

The suite I had at the Hyatt Regency Austin had a bedroom and separate large living room with comfortable seating area and high top dining table. It had separate full bathrooms off of both the bedroom and living area. That’s common for suites that are basically two rooms put together, and I really like an extra large bathroom (though also like a small bath off the living area for guests to use without their having to enter through the bedroom).

The nice thing about two full baths though is two full sets of bath amenities. The hotel stocked with more than just the standard array of KenetMD that Hyatt Regency has been using — they added in KenetMD sunburn lotion and chapstick for instance to the shampoo, conditioner, soaps, and bath gel even. And of course everything was replenished daily. Since Hyatt invites you to steal their bath amenities, that’s very tempting…

The most distinguishing thing about the suite though was the balcony overlooking the river which extended across the entire length of the suite.

Breakfast is also good for a Hyatt Regency in the U.S. I love a good restaurant breakfast, but usually when the dining is a specialty and not just an afterthought. I don’t really like the sorts of buffets you’d find at an airport hotel, but do love breakfast in the sort of restaurant that draws in business from the local community and not just from people who don’t want to leave the hotel (people eating for convenience rather than taste).

While they offer a buffet that looks decent enough and with a made-to-order station, I actually prefer ordering off of the menu.

I found that the ‘South Austin Eggs Benedict’ were especially good, and I had them twice during a three night stay.

It’s worth noting that whereas some hotels are especially generous with how they handle their Diamond breakfast benefit, this one is very much by the book in that the credit they’ll honor is pretty much exactly the cost of the buffet plus tax and a very modest tip, tip a couple bucks too much and you’ll have a small amount remaining on your bill. So I’ve seen lots of comments about $2 and $3 charges remaining rather than the full bill being wiped. That was certainly my experience on my last visit and on this one. That’s fine, and I’ll tip however I feel appropriate, though I do wish what the hotel did and didn’t cover was more clearly spelled out.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It seems to me that the hotel did clearly spell out what was and was not covered for breakfast – you said so yourself – “this one is very much by the book in that the credit they’ll honor is pretty much exactly the cost of the buffet plus tax and a very modest tip”

  2. Although I often find myself wanting trip reports to dig much further into the local scene I can also understand wanting a refuge away from the chaos. Some trips I’m out and about virtually the whole day and only come back to sleep. Other trips I spend almost entirely at the hotel. I’ve only stayed at the Austin Regency once and found it rather lackluster for a Hyatt. Maybe not as bad as an airport Regency but certainly nothing special. On the other hand this was several years ago so maybe things have changed since then. Come to think of it most Hyatts in central and south Texas seem pretty dull to me. I do enjoy visiting Austin though and it’s interesting to hear that the Driskill is joining Hyatt so I might give that a shot sometime.

  3. Readers should be aware that only one floor at the hotel comes with a balcony. I have stayed their twice in a suite upgrade, but on higher floors. I remember being jealous of those in the rooms with a balcony.

  4. There is also now a brand new Hyatt Place right in downtown Austin. I was there last week for a function at the convention center and, if that is where you need to be, this new hotel is far more convenient. I know Hyatt Places aren’t all that special, but this one fills a need. There is a brand new JW Marriott being built right next door, too, so the area has a lot of dining options (upscale, expense account-type options, but options nonetheless). Parking at the hotel isn’t outrageous (by downtown standards)…and it is absolutely the nicest, newest, shiniest, prettiest Hyatt Place in which I have ever stayed.

    It has only been open about a month and change, but there was almost too much staff (if that can be a complaint??). People were almost tripping over themselves to see if you needed any help.

    I have stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Austin and find it to be a serviceable hotel, but this was a GREAT Hyatt Place.

  5. Did MP refer to you as ‘Gary’ during your visit with her?

    Or ‘Mr. Fancy Pants in his big old suite’? 🙂

  6. Lark, ha – both?! Mostly Gary though. 😉 I have also never had a balcony there – even when in a suite, so you lucked out!

    I agree with your assessment of the Driskill though. I’m glad I stayed there, and it is a hotel full of history, but it needs a little update to go with its history before I’d be chomping at the bit to go back.

  7. I stayed at the new Hyatt Place in downtown a few weeks ago, and it’s fantastic. Brand new, shiny, and staff is amazing. Points cost is the same as the Regency, but the location is perfect for walking home from 6th St. in the evening. As a Plat I got upgraded to their corner room, which had floor to ceiling windows on 2 sides of the room. The only thing is parking is $25 a day, but it’s connected to the hotel (you take the same elevator to the garage as to your room). As a side note, Max’s Wine Dive across the street has awesome fried chicken.

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