by Sarah Owen

Hotel San Jose, Austin

A minimalist chic, eco-friendly, and charming sanctuary-like retreat in Austin's hipster central.

Absolute Highlight

Our time lounging in San José’s courtyard over a coffee, Michelada, or wine, depending on the time of day, was memorable. Whether enjoying some rays of sun around the pool, or sitting around the fire meeting visitors and locals alike, the space combines a peaceful vibe with an old Hollywood glamour of sorts.

In a nutshell

No. of rooms
40, including 14 suites
The design aesthetic is...
an urban bungalow-style hotel defined by Texan and Western elements polished with chic, minimal design.
The typical guest is...
passing through or local, chilled-out, a lover of music and arts, and open to experience the Southern charm.
The sustainability features (ie. plastic free, recycling, green wall, garden) are...
renovations using recovered materials, the use of biodegradable cleaning products, organic and locally sourced food, drought-friendly plants, and subscribing to Austin’s renewable energy program.
The location is...
15 minutes away from the airport, walking distance from downtown and situated on South Congress, one of Austin's happening spots for people watching, boutique shopping, and sampling local joints.
Interaction is encouraged by....
the warm and genuinely friendly staff, the communal courtyard space and lounge, and the overall cozy, welcoming architectural set up.
You should stay here because
it provides a secluded, amicable, calm, nature-themed atmosphere, while still in the city and anchoring the ‘SoCo district’ with music venues, eclectic shops, and slick bars.
What took you there?

My companion and I are editors. We wanted a reputable, local and hip but calm place to work while also having a staycation in my husband’s city, Austin. Hotel San José – a masterclass in stylish understatement – with its chilled-out charm and loungy, secluded, serene vibe, was an ideal choice.

What was your room like?

Spacious and designed for an organized stay, minimalistic with rustic handmade furniture, polished concrete floors, and pop art decoration. No textile or furniture felt generic or without purpose. We also welcomed the quirky but thoughtful touches like the custom-made kimono bathrobes and the complimentary rentals such as the Polaroid camera, a music and movie library, and TOMS shoes. The room also included a flat-screen TV, CD/DVD player, an iPod dock, Malin + Goetz products in the bathroom, free bottled water, and a minibar of gourmet treats which surprisingly included gummies and pistachios.

What about the venue

Built in 1936 as an “ultramodern” motor court, the property was transformed by owner Liz Lambert – in partnership with architecture firm Lake/Flato and the artist Mark Word – into a self-contained world tucked behind stucco walls and set amidst lush garden courtyards. Some of the original architectural details such as the arbor and parabolic arches, and the tile shed roofs, are repeated throughout the complex. The rooms, hidden away in a collection of ivy-covered buildings of plain concrete with Spanish-tiled roofs, are connected through a series of garden courtyards, ponds, and arbor-lined walkways. Without being too posh or snazzy, the central backyard serves as an outdoor pool area, lounge, and lobby, drawing in both locals and transient visitors alike, serving as a lively but calm gathering place.

Tell us about the destination

Situated on South Congress Avenue, we were just down the road from a plethora of great boutique shops – like Tesoros, which sells folk handicrafts, Allens Boots, the enormous costume outpost Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, and Parts & Labour – as well as live music venues such as the Continental Club, Boy’s Heart & Soul, and Güero’s Taco Bar, which rotate a roster of country, jazz, rock and blues acts. The iconic hole-in-the-wall karaoke bar Ego’s is worth the visit. The food scene around the hotel is impressive as well. Whether heading to more laid back spots like Torchy’s Tacos, around the clock dinner at Magnolia, Jo’s Coffee literally around the corner, locally prized Home Slice Pizza, and the impressive standout seafood joint Perla’s; or looking for a more formal place like Botticellis or nationally-recognized Otoko; there are choices for every mood and every crave. The hotel is also within walking distance of the downtown area (including the infamous Sixth Street), and provided you’re in a strolling mood, one can easily make it to the Capitol or local staples such as Whisler’s or Franklin’s Barbecue.

Who did you meet there?

Throughout our stay, which lasted a few days, we met the chief editor of Kinfolk magazine, producer Mark Ronson, and a state champion barista.

Austin, United States
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Surrounding Activities

Lady Bird Lake

Kayaking at Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake

Book People

Getting lost in the endless bookstore, Book People

Book People

Barton Springs

Taking a swim at the local spot, Barton Springs

Barton Springs

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