The Driskill truly is a grand hotel in the late 19th century tradition. Built in the 1880s, this hotel was intended to be the most luxurious accommodation in the Austin area. Even if you don't stay here, it is worthwhile to go inside and look around. The lobby and mezzanine are breathtaking, from the enormous arched doorways to the marble columns to the stained glass skylights. Walking into the lobby each evening after dinner was like stepping back in time. I would immediately feel a sense of serenity and security. The chairs in the lobby are very comfortable as well, if you are inclined to just sit and drink it in.
My husband and I stayed here for two nights to celebrate his birthday. The elevator, which I realize is almost certainly not from 1886, looked as if it might date from the same time as the 1930 addition. The doors are brass with engraved designs, and above the doors on the lobby side is one of those floor indicators with the arrow that moves to show which floor the elevator is on. If you have ever seen a 1930s film depicting a scene in a hotel lobby, you know what I am talking about. Our room was on the 5th floor, the top level of the historic (1880s) section. The hallways in this section are unusually wide, a legacy of the late 19th c. fashion for hoopskirts. The decor of our room was elegant and tasteful, and the bed was very comfortable. The peephole in the door had one of those sliding covers over it which you now usually see only in old movies. The bathroom was beautifully updated with granite countertop and tub/shower enclosure and a lovely porcelain sink with a painted flower design. The light switches took a little time to figure out as there are so many. One of them controlled a very low-light setting which was perfect as a nightlight. I usually dread trips to a hotel bathroom in the middle of the night as I have to choose between fumbling around in the dark or having my eyes blinded by a too-bright light. Not here! Kudos to the Driskill for providing this small but much appreciated amenity. Colonel Driskill is said to have designed his hotel to be as fireproof as possible, and built it with 18" thick walls between the guestrooms and steel barriers between the floors. These design elements, intended to serve as fireproofing, also serve to make the hotel rooms QUIET. We slept very well both nights, and never heard a peep from any of our neighbors. We also heard no noise from the hallways in the morning, from the housekeeping staff or anyone else, so apparently the "Do Not Disturb" signs are taken seriously here, whereas in so many other establishments they are not.
The hallways of the fourth and fifth floors are more or less of an art gallery, and I spent a good deal of time just walking around looking at all the paintings. The supposedly haunted painting of the little girl holding the letter was just down the hall from our room, but I didn't experience anything odd while looking at it. (This painting is supposed to depict a little girl who died from a fall down the grand staircase while chasing after her ball, and her ghost is supposed to haunt the staircase.)
The grill was closed the two evenings we were there (Sunday and Monday) but we did eat lunch in the 1886 cafe on Monday, and I had breakfast there both mornings (my husband is a late riser). Everything we had was delicious. The cinnamon rolls are fantastic, and I highly recommend both the cheese soup (it does have a little kick to it, so beware if you don't like spicy food), and the chocolate cake, which is supposed to be an authentic recipe form 1886. If so, then all I can say is that they knew how to cook in those days, because the cake was superb! After dinner on Monday at a local Japanese restaurant, we came back to the cafe for some ice cream, which they make on the premises in their kitchen. It was also very good and fresh tasting.
The location is ideal if you want to explore downtown Austin. We spent Monday touring the Capitol grounds and ate both nights at downtown restaurants, and we walked everywhere. About the only thing lacking is that the Driskill has no pool, which is understandable for an 1886 property. Swimming pools just were not common in those days, and there is really no way to add one. I highly recommend the Driskill to anyone who wants a taste of history or just a beautiful, relaxing, luxurious environment.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to The Driskill Hotel. Built in 1886 as the showplace of a cattle baron, The Driskill remains a landmark of legendary Texas hospitality. Located on Sixth Street in the heart of downtown Austin, the luxurious, historic hotel is convenient to all that the city has to offer, including the Texas State Capitol, convention center, opera, symphony, fine dining, shopping, and Austin's 6th Street music scene. Known as the "Live Music Capital of the World,®" Austin is home to nearly 200 music venues, many within walking distance of The Driskill. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Driskill Hotel Austin
- Driskill Hotel Austin
- Driskill Austin
- The Driskill Austin, Texas