Austin has had several new hotel developments recently, like Hotel Van Zandt (Kimpton) and the JW Marriott with its The Corner bar and its Burger Bar window. But the one I’ve been most intrigued by is the Westin Downtown.
That’s because it’s right smack in the middle of the music and bar scene, on the edge of Dirty 6th.
I didn’t stay at the Westin Downtown, I live in Austin now. It’s been open for three months, and I finally got around to visiting. So I’ve seen the rooms and the public spaces, and I’ve spoken with the General Manager about Platinum benefits, but I haven’t slept there yet.
While the hotel’s smells and furnishings are definitely ‘new Westin’ the hotel also offers a real sense of place, and homage to Austin’s music scene. The lobby is inspired by a Gibson guitar, from the artwork behind the check-in desk to the strings in the lobby to the art that hangs above the bed in the guest rooms and in the bathrooms as well.
The rooms are standard Westin, with the heavenly bed and heavenly bath of course.
What’s ‘Austin’ about them is the guitar pick art above the bed, a piece of art in the bathroom, and the colorful chair.
The king rooms all have walk-in showers, while half of the doubles have tubs and half have walk-in showers. The bathrooms have the ‘heavenly mirror’ that’s well-lit.
There are plenty of outlets in the room, by the desk and the bedside. All of the rooms have refrigerators and coffee makers.
And with windows spanning floor to ceiling the views from the hotel are pretty good.
Pool and gym
Both the pool and gym are on the very top floor of the hotel, so the gym features outstanding views — run on a treadmill looking out over the city, and relax by the pool with a view of downtown. And of course the equipment is all high end and brand new.
On the weekends they ask guests to use wristbands to identify themselves as having access to the pool, in order to preserve the space for hotel guests only. This is similar to what the W hotel does, since they’d otherwise be invaded by locals.
The bar by the pool is beside a living wall that they’re growing, and that they’re going to add to and enlarge to triple its height so that you’ll be able to see it atop the hotel from street street level in the city.
There’s no club lounge so breakfast is served in the restaurant and Platinums opting for breakfast as their amenity choice can choose any item off the menu marked in green.
There are only 4 suites among the hotel’s 366 guest rooms (the hotel is about a third the size of the new JW Marriott). So Platinums won’t see a lot of complimentary suite upgrades here, in contrast to the W hotel about half a mile away. Upgrades are much more likely to Corner King rooms which are ‘-12’ rooms on the 15th floor and below. (1612 – 1912 are the four suites, and the end of the hallway where the room is located can be closed off and the guest room across the hall sold to make an interesting connecting room.)
Corner kings have glass all the way around on two sides to make for an impressive room.
You’re in the middle of downtown Austin, on 6th street no less, the epicenter of bars and music venues so there’s going to be noise. The location is mostly a plus for the hotel, but the drawback is the same as it’s core selling proposition.
The hotel was built with dampening noise in mind, and since they opened they’ve double-pained the windows on the 6th street side. They’ll be doing the same around the rest of the hotel as well.
So if you’re sensitive to noise, and want the quietest room possible, definitely request something on the 5th street side.
There are two floors of meeting space. The ballroom seats 300, but they can handle receptions up to 600 people. Many of the conference rooms line the walls and have the same floor to ceiling glass windows as the guest rooms. And there’s both strong soundproofing and an HVAC system that can adjust the temperature several degrees in a matter of minutes.
Meeting rooms are named for local music venues.
Good Value In-Season On Points
The W Austin is now a category 6 hotel, so at least 20,000 points per night — and on peak weekends rates there can be well over $500 a night.
The Westin on the other hand is a category 5 hotel. It’s new but already pulling rates over $350 much of the time. They’ve clearly found a market, despite all the new properties in the area. A nice hotel near the action is a draw. When the hotel is available at 12,000 points despite tax-inclusive rates over $400 it’s a great time to redeem Starwood points.