The Line Austin is hip and trendy, an addition to an already hip and trendy city scene, so it wasn’t surprising to have a take it or leave stay. The 428-room hotel was once the Crest Inn, which had an in-house jazz recording studio, and also a very tired Radisson. Its current life invigorates the downtown Austin location, which overlooks Lady Bird Lake and the Congress Bridge, and creates a lively venue within walking distance of scores of bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues.
The lobby and indoor public spaces feel like your outdoors, but without the Texas heat and humidity. The palette is neutral colors and natural materials broken up with floral chairs, a hand-carved wooden bar, and the greenery of lots of tropical plants. A fireplace helps create a cheery vibe. Front desk staff gets the job done, but I felt like I wasn’t quite hip enough to get their undivided attention. That’s not to say that they were rude – they weren’t – I just felt like I wasn’t their target demographic beyond an income to pay for the room.
A ground floor pool is surrounded by umbrella-covered seating and lounging that provides respite from the Texas sun. During my stay, there was more sunbathing than swimming, a little bit of the “I’m here to be seen” vibe. A small workout room is nearby.
Guest rooms are also decorated in earthy and neutral tones. There’s a good sense of style in the rooms, with textured headboards, cluster hanging lights, and original art by Texas artists – I had horns hanging in my refreshment area – and the hotel also has an artist residency program. My traveling friends loved the industrial-chic styling far more than I did; we just have different aesthetic tastes. We all agreed, however, that the minimal closet and drawer space was fine for staying a night or two, but annoying for a longer conference or vacation stay.
The bathroom has upscale amenities, a rain shower, but counter space is frustrating and you’d be hard-pressed to accommodate two people getting ready at the same time. The bathroom lighting was flattering, rather than practical, making it difficult for putting on makeup. The room was comfortable, just a little quirky.
Although the neighborhood boasts lots of food and beverage choices, don’t pass up the hotel venues.
- Arlo Grey features Italian and French-themed dining from season 10 Top Chef winner Kristen Kish. The lakeside restaurant also offers a tasty weekend brunch. Mondays offer half-price off the reserve list wine, making some of the pricey bottles within budget range.
- Dean’s One Trick Pony is named for a former host and performer dating back to the Line’s 60s era. You’ll find the typical bar food and specialty drinks, and the extended happy hour on Thursday (until 10 pm) makes it a popular Thursday choice. The burgers are big, juicy, and worth the calories.
- P6 is the rooftop bar set on what was once the top floor of the parking garage. There’s a lot of floral seating, plants, and flowers, giving it an open-air greenhouse feel. The views of the city skyline, lake, and Congress Avenue are nice accompaniments to the specialty cocktail menu. The menu is diverse – the patatas bravas give a respectable nod to Catalonia – with competitive happy hour pricing. Sunsets are gorgeous and this is a prime spot for the nightly bat viewing. I’ve never been able to time my stay in Austin to catch the bats, but from March to October over a million and a half bats come out each night from the underside of the Congress Bridge. Time it right, about 20 minutes before sundown, and you get both bats and sunset.
While the Line Austin has lots of quirks, or maybe I’m just not hip enough, it’s location is superb. For a stay in downtown, it’s a solid choice. Plus it’s pet-friendly. If you’re looking for a longer stay hotel, perhaps more luxury than hip, check out the Lost Pines Resort.
The Line Austin is located at 111 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, Texas. Rates start around $200 per night. You can go to Hotels.com or other online booking sites to compare rates.