Postcard Plans

Curated Travel Inspiration and Musings

Enjoying Downtown Austin at Hilton Austin


If you are planning to attend a conference at the Austin Convention Center, or looking for a Central Austin hotel in general, then most likely the Hilton Austin will be on your list of prospects.  And if you plan to explore 6th Street or the newer Rainey Street, then Hilton Austin should definitely be on your list even if you are not on a business trip.

On our recent visit, it was clear from the moment we entered the lobby that there was a conference underway with a large gathering of people who were already enjoying the alcohol delights in costumes.  Honestly, I had a moment of concern that we had booked a party hotel.  But once we got to the elevators, I saw the signs warning against loud partying past 11PM, and as we entered the elevator then all the noises were left behind. But you do need to understand the scene and how that will affect your experience.  For our visit, a Downtown adventure is what we were looking for.

As this trip was work-related for my husband (who works in sports radio), we were seeking a location near the University of Texas campus and thought it would be fun to be in Downtown Austin.  Usually when we visit the city, we lean toward vacation rentals in neighborhoods and stay as locals, but we thought it would be fun to be tourists and enjoy some of the central attractions.  And with Hilton Austin being on 4th Street, you’re blocks away from nightlife, restaurants, and about a mile away from UT Austin’s main campus.

While we were not in town for a convention, the hotel is located across the street from the Austin Convention Center as well.  It doesn’t get much closer actually, and with conferences such as SXSW, this hotel has a demand for rooms that often mean it is sold out. So when we were looking at possible locations to plant ourselves, I was happy to see that it was not only available but that the standard room prices were reasonable compared to similar offerings in the city.

The inside of the hotel is spacious.  The lobby has tall ceilings, complimentary infused waters and newspapers, and friendly staff to check you in. On arrival, we checked in and found out that we were upgraded to a King Suite* which was a fabulous surprise as well. The Marketing staff also greeted us with a lovely cheese and wine tray.  So very, very nice.  The average guest might not get these lovely perks, but I hope to give an honest overview of the property that I think will help you decide if this is the best fit for you in any room.

You should also know that Hilton Austin is currently undergoing a multi-million $ renovation, which I think is timely, so I will have to come back to experience all the upgrades that are coming.  While I found our room to be super spacious and nice, there were a few quirks with our keys in the parking garage.  There was no fridge in our room, and the decor was perhaps not as contemporary as I would have expected.  All of these things are by no means deal-breakers for us, and it is also important to know that they are in the process of improving them.  The most important aspects, such as cleanliness, comfortable beds, friendly staff and good showers were on-point.  If you are lucky enough (or wise enough to ask) for a higher floor room, then the view of Downtown is just awesome.  Well worth the extra expense if you can swing it.

Before booking, I read reviews from Yelp and Tripadvisor and noticed common complaints about wi-fi and parking which both come with fees.  To be honest, I did not have a problem with these extra expenses as I have found it to be fairly common practice in the larger hotels where you get more amenities.  Plus, parking is a premium in Downtown Austin.  You are going to pay to park if you are going out to dinner, seeing a show or having a drink.  It is very rare that you can luck into a free street spot, which is not secure to be frank.  The parking fee did not bother me, but guests should plan to pay $26 for overnight parking or $30 for valet.

And as far are wireless goes, with a little research you learn that if you join the Hilton Honors program, their loyalty rewards program, that you get wireless for free!  So, I did not pay for wireless at all during my stay though I did have to scramble to remember my log-ins.  Additionally, the coffee shop Java Jive provides free wireless which essentially powers the entire lobby.  Perhaps this work-around could be better communicated with an option for signing up at the front desk, but I figured it out myself when I logged online.  No complaints for me.  I had free wireless.

And if you do not want to join the rewards program, then Java Jive is a lovely option where they serve Starbucks and have quick snacks.  We frequented their café.  Unfortunately we never tried the other dining and bar options on-site but they all seemed nice as well. Loft Bar offers cocktails, Finn & Porter is a steak restaurant, and Liberty Tavern is a good-looking sports restaurant. These are all very convenient options, but with so many wonderful restaurants nearby, we opted to hit the streets for food and drinks.

On the other hand, we were SO BUMMED that we did not discover Tower Health Club & Spa sooner.  As we departed, we stopped by the 8th floor and realized that we had totally missed out. On our visit, it was much too cold to swim outside but I might have worked up a sweat if I realized that the views on the treadmill were so lovely.  To be honest, we ran Lady Bird Lake trail instead and it is certainly better in my opinion but I might have lifted some weights afterwards.  Don’t miss out on the 8th floor if you go, especially if the weather is nice and you can have a drink at the pool bar.  They have a 48-feet saline pool or unwind in the whirlpool overlooking the Austin skyline that should not be missed.  There is also a spa where you can indulge in massage, facial or manicures before a night out on the town.

Some other fun tidbits about the property is that the 100 City bus, which only costs $1, is a great transportation option from the airport.  It stops about a block from the hotel.  Also, dogs are allowed at the hotel with a deposit.

All in all, we had a great stay at Hilton Austin and would definitely stay again.  We enjoyed walking from the hotel to Rainey Street and 6th Street, and highly recommend all guests stop for the Sunday brunch at Moonshine Grill for a fantastic Southern buffet.  But you should expect this hotel to be  adult-oriented geared toward business travelers who are enjoying the Austin night scene.  Also, even on one of the top floors, we could hear the live music of 6th Street in our room late into the night.  We enjoyed the unique environment and joined in the fun – but if that is not what you are looking for then there is quieter, more family, or more romantic destinations in the city that might be a better fit.  But for young couples, groups of friends, and business travelers, this is a top option.

If you are looking for a good time with style, then I suggest you call Hilton Austin.


*Sponsored by the Hilton Austin.

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