You can’t miss the distinctive sign erected in front of this retro establishment, serving as a gateway to the hip South Congress scene. The Austin Motel (1220 S. Congress Ave., 512/441-1157, www.austinmotel.com, $100 d) is a SoCo stalwart, particularly for its kidney-shaped pool, surrounded by funky old lounge furniture and enough vegetation to offer some privacy from the nearby streetscape.
Spring for one of the motel’s larger rooms overlooking the pool ($117), complete with a fridge, stylish 1950s bathroom, and carport parking. Smaller single rooms overlooking the parking lot go for $85.
Considered by many to be the best lodging in Austin, the Hotel San Jose (1316 S. Congress Ave., 512/693-9317, www.sanjosehotel.com, $195 average d) is the definition of cool—simple, clean, bright, and relaxing. Vintage and modern furniture rests on smooth concrete floors, fresh-cut flowers and bottled water catch the sun’s rays, and intermittent garden areas offer songbirds, citrus trees, and peacefulness as an idyllic backdrop. Enjoy San Jose’s cozy pool, video and music library, and charming room-service breakfasts (fruit, cereal, juice, and coffee).
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition