The Rejuvenated Austin Motel Welcomes Guests With Upbeat, Midcentury-Modern Vibes

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By Jenny Xie
Liz Lambert and her hospitality group Bunkhouse give the South Congress Avenue mainstay a makeover that celebrates its roots.

Family-run since 1938, Austin Motel on South Congress Avenue was a beloved institution on the famed strip, so when it was sold last May, locals were understandably worried about its fate. 

Luckily, celebrated Austin hotelier Liz Lambert and her hospitality company Bunkhouse were named the new proprietors of the motel. Lambert spearheaded a renovation that preserved the property’s off-beat, Texan spirit while imparting a funky—yet polished—midcentury vibe. With 41 rooms, a new bar, a kidney-shaped pool, and a front desk that doubles as a general store, the new Austin Motel offers an authentic experience of the city at an affordable price, with rooms starting at $125. 

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The lobby of the motel, the Bodega, is part reception desk, part general store, its shelves stocked with snacks and drinks, traveling necessities, hotel and pool memorabilia, and other souvenirs and gifts. It features a refinished Saltillo floor and clean, modern lines.       

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Each of the motel's 41 rooms is outfitted with custom, vinyl, tufted beds that are reminiscent of the property's iconic neon sign, and wall-mounted wood desks with burgundy laminate. Eric Trine-designed Wall Willy robe hooks hold colorful, Southwest-inspired bathrobes, while lip-shaped phones and vintage silkscreened posters complete the playful picture.

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Outside, Bunkhouse retained the kidney-shaped pool and added a new bar by Jack Sanders, while a new cocktail bar called Fine Foods serves frozen drinks, punches, beer, and wine. Jo's Burger Box operates out of an adjacent trailer. Live programming including Richard Simmons-style aerobics has just launched—a bathhouse and rooftop deck are still to come.

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A crowd-pleasing blend of the familiar and new, Austin Motel is the latest in Bunkhouse's idiosyncratic properties. To find out more, visit the website

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