Austin may no longer be quite as weird as it once was, but don’t throw in the towel just yet. Not all change is change for the worse: enter South Congress Hotel. In realizing its scope and purpose in the established “SoCo” neighborhood, Michael Hsu (architect) and MAI Studio (interior design) set out to accentuate, rather than quash, the character of their surroundings.
The building goes wide and relatively low-slung at just three stories, a conversation piece, to be sure, though not in the obnoxious-façade mode; muted colors and natural materials reign supreme inside and out. One negotiates the public spaces in series, passing through cool and inviting rooms in a tranquil succession of blued steel, rusticated bronze, white bricks, terra-cotta, and cedar accents — we expect it will age rather well.
The guestrooms sublimate those patterns via geometrically calming color blocks, hardwood flooring, and a light-flooded layout. Pillowtop beds with bespoke Matteo linens ensure comfort, as do the walk-in showers with Aesop amenities. You’ll find many a reminder that this is still funky, accessible Austin: caged pendant bulbs, articulated bedside lamps, stationery, locavore minibars, etc. Tech-wise, they’ve set a new standard with room-specific wi-fi networks and LED TVs. Upgrade to a suite for pluses like furnished balconies, full bars, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
There’s a street-level lobby bar, separated from reception via extended bookshelves lined with design and travel volumes. The requisite pool bar graces the second floor, and besides the all-day, continental comfort plates on offer at Café No Sé, a family of additional eateries are in the works; expect haute Japanese, a new American bar and grill, and a by-now-mandatory array of cold-pressed juices and locally roasted coffee. Take your beverage of choice in the courtyard “greenscape,” or, you know, don’t be such a hermit — the South Congress is great as an all-in-one hotel, but let’s not forget that it’s the folks outside who make South Congress (the neighborhood) worth visiting in the first place.
Text Courtesy of Tablet Hotels