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Hotel Review: The Westin Austin Downtown

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On a recent trip to Texas with her family, TPG Points & Miles Editor Sarah Silbert enjoyed a two-night stay at The Westin Austin Downtown. Read on for details about the experience. (All photos are by the author.)

After a lovely stay at the St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection hotel in San Antonio, my family and I headed to Austin to take in the capital city and its many attractions. We were lucky enough to find a kind Uber driver who was willing to make the 1.5-hour trip, and thanks to a late checkout at our previous hotel, we arrived at The Westin Austin Downtown just in time for happy hour at the lobby bar/restaurant.

Booking

We booked two standard King rooms at the hotel at a rate of about $158 per night, including tax, as part of Starwood’s Cyber Monday sale. While we paid cash for this reservation, you can also book nights at the property with points. The Westin Austin Downtown is a Category 5 SPG property, with redemption rates going for 12,000-16,000 Starpoints (weekdays are more expensive than weekends). If you’re able to find a room during SXSW, that can be a fantastic deal.

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If you’re going to pay for a stay at this Westin (or any one, for that matter), be sure to pay with your Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. Not only do you earn up to 5 points per dollar on spending at Starwood properties if you’re an SPG Platinum member, but TPG also pegs Starpoints at 2.5 cents apiece, making them them the most valuable loyalty program currency out there.

Check-In

There was no wait at the check-in desk when we made it to the hotel, and the only hold-up was an issue with our Starwood Card not being accepted (not the hotel’s fault; requesting a new card from Amex seemed to solve this problem).

The view heading towards the elevators in the lobby.
The view heading toward the elevators in the lobby.

While the staff was courteous and helpful, it was immediately clear that our stay would be impersonal compared to the above-and-beyond friendliness we experienced at the St. Anthony Hotel. This makes sense, as the Westin brand has more of a business bent than Luxury Collection properties do, and it also reflects the difference in cities.

The Rooms

The design theme is vaguely musical — I think those are supposed to be guitar picks above the bed.
The design theme is vaguely musical — I think those are supposed to be guitar picks above the bed.

We were semi-upgraded to Executive King rooms, both of which were on the 14th floor. The rooms overlooked Sixth Street, a nightlife hub with bars and music venues, but noise from the street was thankfully not an issue.

The view from our room.
The view from our room.

In fact, the only noise problem was caused by the people in the room across the hall from us, clearly a group of friends that came to Austin to par-tay. (No judgment here — they picked a great city!)

The room was spacious, with plenty of room to work and relax.
The room was spacious, with plenty of room to work and relax.

As is pretty much always the case at Westin properties, which offer the signature Heavenly Bed, the mattress was comfortable and we slept well.

Beyond that, though, the room was pretty plain. It felt a bit dark, and the white color palette and bland decor was definitely impersonal, but it wasn’t really a disappointment since Westin isn’t known for design flourishes.

There was plenty of workspace in our room.
There was plenty of workspace in our room.

While the rooms were nothing special, the hotel lobby and other public areas offered more city-specific touches, such as a giant marquee-style lightbulb sign spelling out “ATX” by the elevators. And a closer look at some of the blah-ish artwork in the rooms revealed that it was also music-themed — the print over the bed featured guitar picks, for example.

One perk of a cookie-cutter hotel: conveniently located bedside outlets.
One perk of a cookie-cutter hotel: conveniently located bedside outlets.

The bathroom was well-sized but basic, with the usual Westin-brand shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and leaf soap.

The simple, clean bathroom.
The simple, clean bathroom.

Finally, the room included a few amenities especially for guests who are likely in town for work, not play, including a mini-refrigerator and a coffee maker.

You can save your leftover BBQ in the mini-fridge.
You can save your leftover BBQ in the mini-fridge.

Other Amenities

After checking into our rooms, we had about two hours to kill before dinner at Lambert’s, one of our favorite BBQ joints in town thanks to its amazing queso and the fact that it actually takes reservations (unlike most in-demand places in Austin).

Chocolate nibs and an Austin postcard: our welcome amenity.
Chocolate nibs and an Austin postcard: our welcome amenity.

Naturally, we went to the bar, where we quickly learned it was happy hour. Both drink and food prices were very reasonable, with small plates and cocktails starting at $5. Even though dinner was around the corner, we couldn’t resist ordering a few things to share, and everything was very tasty.

The Plum Creek, one of several great craft cocktails on the menu.
The Plum Creek, one of several great craft cocktails available for $5 on the happy hour menu.

I especially liked the biscuits and the spicy brussels sprouts with broccoli, while the two beet fans at the table enjoyed the vegetable chips.

Delicious
Delicious biscuits and spicy broccoli with brussels sprouts at the onsite restaurant’s happy hour.

The lobby got pretty busy on both evenings of our stay — we even saw a band setting up for a live session one night. Very Austin.

Live music in the lobby.
Live music in the lobby.

Of course, one of the biggest selling points of the Westin Austin Downtown is its location, which is indeed very central and, well, downtown. From the hotel, it’s just a four-minute walk to Sixth Street and about a 20-minute walk to the famous Bat Bridge. The location also means a great view from the hotel’s pool deck.

The Westin Austin Downtown's scenic pool deck.
The Westin Austin Downtown’s scenic pool deck.

Set right next to the pool deck is the hotel’s spacious gym, which felt sterile but provided plenty of good equipment along with towels and water.

The large gym at The Westin Austin Downtown.
The large gym at The Westin Austin Downtown.

Overall Impression

The Westin Austin Downtown isn’t the kind of hotel that will blow you away with special features and service, but it’s still a great place to rest your head with a great location to boot. The rooms weren’t particularly amazing, but they were clean and comfortable, and we all enjoyed the happy hour menu.

Have you stayed at The Westin Austin Downtown? Share your experience in the comments below!

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