I kid. Of Course, they haven’t gone missing. I am convinced that a leisure village exists somewhere on the outskirts where my people are housed. I hear a border wall may soon be constructed. So, my AARP brethren, get your 50+ fannies over there before our time runs out. Austin is city filled with young adults. Everywhere you look there are man-buns, sleeve tattoos, and partying youngsters (that’s what we call you 20-30 year olds). The city much like it’s residents is vibrant, fun and good-looking. The food scene is worth going for alone but the miles of running trails and the flagship Whole Foods seals the deal. Austin is hip and happening. If you are 50+, you should definitely make your way here before they start age-related deportations.
Austin: Where to Stay
So full disclosure. I arrived in Austin for a conference. While not cool enough to know that I should go to Austin, I did get lucky with the conference locale. Since the conference was held at the JW Marriott (which looked new and lovely, again like many of the residents of Austin), I decided to stay at the W Hotel in Austin. I chose the W based on its proximity to the Marriott and, again, not because I am cool. One morning, I ran by the Four Seasons Hotel which is beautifully located overlooking the Colorado River, and will most likely stay there next time (and there will be a next time) I visit.
So The W has the requisite cool factor. Lots of gray and red, neon, dark corners, expansive pool/bar area with thumping music create the hip hotel vibe. Like all W’s, it’s the place to stay. I booked a room on the fourth floor which included a balcony overlooking the pool.
The Austin W employees very polite and very young employees clearly. The customer service is informal, nonplussed and sweet- I think maternal transference can play in one’s favor. The hotel is the fourth largest building in Austin (however that may change soon judging on the amount of building occurring currently in Austin). The hotel is composed of 251 hotel rooms and 159 condos. Magic Johnson is the primary investor and he’s 57- I wonder if he’s allowed at his hotel?
The room, at first glance, carried the themes of grays and reds with flashes of turquoise. The balcony is a nice touch and allows for a lot of fresh, warm Austin air.
Unfortunately, I read that these very balconies have lost glass panels which fell and shattered in the pool area. Helpful Hint: sit on the far side of the pool.
While at first glance the room was beautiful cleaned and maintained, on closer inspection it looked a little tired. I am no Anthony Melchiorri of Hotel Impossible. I never look at mattresses. I’m strictly “don’t ask don’t tell.” However, when my friend (also attending the conference) lost an earring before going to sleep, we started searching her bed for the errant earring. It was then we noticed that the bed did not have a fitted sheet on it. The bed was made with just a flat sheet which wasn’t tucked in.
We pulled back the flat sheet and noticed her bed was stained and a bit sketchy (on a positive note my bed was perfect, although I only inspected one corner).As well, the red couch had a tear and clear signs of wear and the home depot extension cord under the night stand was not cool or hip.There was no bathroom door presumable because 20/30 year olds don’t need one, but at 5o, I have found my more genteel nature.
The bar is great and spreads out over a few rooms. Shandella (I am so sorry to butcher the spelling of your name) is the greatest server of all times with a great sense of humor and perfect timing. The W changes the elevator mats to match the time of day (Good Morning, Good Afternoon and Good Evening- I am wondering if from 1am-4am they unroll “Good God,” but I wasn’t awake) a nice touch.
The gym is fantastic. One of the best I’ve ever used. Unfortunately or fortunately, if you are a runner the trail system in Austin is EPIC and you won’t make use of the gym preferring to run carefree in a beautiful city.
The Driskill Bar
Okay, so you have to go to The Driskill for drinks. Built in 1886, the hotel is GORGEOUS. The bar is beautiful.
The hotel is at the beginning of the Dirty 6 (strictly for college kids- don’t go if you are averse to stepping in vomit) and is the oldest hotel in Austin. Known for its signature drink The Driskill Juelp, the bar is gorgeous with a punched copper ceiling. Unfortunately, when we stopped by a tech company was having a mixer. The bar being old did not have a lot of ventilation. Now, imagine a whole bunch of young computer nerds who spend far too much time in front of screens and not enough time on their hygiene in a small and enclosed bar. You get my drift, right? The julep is worth the trip, trust me.
So… Cafe Blue is down the street from the JW Marriott and close to the convention center. A cavernous restaurant with a large patio- we picked this place because we were fairly certain that no other conference goers would walk so far (we were right) and we wanted a beer with lunch. Clearly, Cafe Blue is trying to service the convention center. I worried that the food would be uninspired, but was happily wrong. Our lovely server (Austinians are SO nice) informed us that Happy Hour at Cafe Blue is ALL DAY on Mondays meaning that select oysters and shrimp dishes are half off and draft beer as well.
The oysters were superb as was the shrimp cocktail. All tasted fresh, briny, and delicious. The beers were frosty. We left the Cafe Blue after paying $36.00 (20% tip included) for a shrimp cocktail, a dozen oysters and two beers. In Los Angeles, I wouldn’t be able to look at dozen oysters for less than $45.00 and so it goes.
If you are a sushi lover, Uchi is a must go. I admit it. I am a sushi snob. Omakase is my happy place. I believe that California has passionately embraced sushi for years and, thankfully, we possess some of the best sushi chefs (outside of Japan) in the world. My expectations for Austin and sushi were muted. However, Uchi is written up as the must-try restaurant in Austin EVERYWHERE. We decided to walk to the restaurant and took our chances in grabbing a table.
After a 30 minute wait and a lovely glass of pinot noir, we were seated. We asked our server, Samantha, to recommend the signature sushi dishes (a great choice on our part). The presentation was creative and delicate. The flavors while often complex always allowed the subtlety of the fish to shine through.
Uchi provided our pinnacle meal. However, we did not try BBQ (as Lamberts was renovating) nor did we make our way closer to the capital where I hear there are plenty of restaurants worth a try
Although, I am certain we but scratched the surface of Austin. The next trip will solely be for enjoyment. We did not hear music, see the University or explore neighborhoods. While not really my bag, the shopping seemed pretty wonderful with many independent boutiques dotting the streets. I look forward to returning to this young and vibrant town for more history, exploration and great food.