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Austin City Guide

By: Amy Lemen

Austin Hotels Guide

©2006 ACVB Photo/Hilton The Hilton Austin, convenientlylocated across the street fromthe Austin Convention Center, isone of the city's newest hotels.

Austin has been hopping when it comes to hotels. The Mobil Three-Star Omni Austin Hotel (700 San Jacinto Blvd) was recently renovated. The Hilton Austin (500 East 4th St), across the street from the Austin Convention Center and within walking distance to several bars and restaurants, opened about a year ago. The Mobil Three-Star Hyatt Regency Austin (208 Barton Springs Rd) is a contemporary hotel located on the shores of Town Lake in downtown Austin.

When it comes to hip and cool, however, the only place to hang your hat is at the bungalow-style Hotel San Jose (1316 South Congress), where you're likely to see musicians, celebrities, and a wide range of folks hanging out at the hotel bar, or around the boutique-size swimming pool. After all, who has time to swim when The Continental Club is across the street? With just 40 rooms, this place fills up equally fast with both out-of-towers and locals looking for a hip getaway without ever leaving town, so make reservations well in advance.

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If you're looking for luxury accommodations, the place to stay is at the Mobil Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Austin (98 San Jacinto Blvd). It's the place to see and be seen, since it's a favorite celebrity hangout, and the hotel is known for its stellar service -- and its $195 margarita!

Another favorite is the legendary Mobil Three-Star Driskill Hotel (604 Brazos St). Built in 1886, this historic Texas hotel features opulent furnishings, a marble lobby floor, and Art Deco styling. It's also known for its political ties -- then and now. President George W. Bush made the hotel his headquarters while awaiting the results of the hotly contested 2000 presidential election as did Lyndon Johnson in 1960 and 1964.

The Mobil Three-Star InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel (701 Congress Ave) is another favorite with its upscale Texas decor, primo bar overlooking the Congress Avenue streetscape, and a great view of the State Capitol building at night.

The Mobil Three-Star Mansion at Judge's Hill (1900 Rio Grande) is a luxurious addition when it comes to boutique hotels. This 48-room hotel and restaurant with its indulgent massages, 310-thread count sheets, and top cuisine is another favorite.

More hotels are also in the works as the city continues to attract more and more tourists, business and convention travel, including a massive Marriott hotel complex proposed for the block surrounded by Congress Avenue and Second, Third, and Brazos streets.

Anytime's a good time to visit Austin, but be forewarned that hotel rooms can be difficult to come by during the month of March (South by Southwest), during UT football home games, and during the Austin City Limits Music Festival (September). Plan well and make reservations as soon as you can to ensure you have a place to stay during these busy times.

Hotel taxes are 15 percent, the city sales tax rate is 8.25 percent, and hotel parking can cost anywhere between $8 and $15 per day.

When it comes to Austin cuisine, you'll find some fine Mexican and barbeque fare, as you'd expect, but that's not all. Keep reading to learn about dining in Austin.