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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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
The bathroom was well-sized but basic, with the usual Westin-brand shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and leaf soap.
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.
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).
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.
I especially liked the biscuits and the spicy brussels sprouts with broccoli, while the two beet fans at the table enjoyed the vegetable chips.
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.
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.
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 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!
There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.
- Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
- Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
- Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Terms and Conditions apply.
- See Rates & Fees