In the spring of 2022, we paid a visit to the award-winning Austin outpost of the Fairmont brand, a sky-high hotel that defies its size with surprising surprise.
With The Proper, Hotel Van Zandt, and the Commodore Perry Estate, Austin doesn’t want for luxe, high-end hospitality. In the spring of 2018, however, the city’s lively downtown neighborhood welcomed its largest hotel to date — the Fairmont Austin.
At a Glance
The gleaming, 37-story tower features 1,048 rooms, five restaurants and bars, a gorgeous spa, and a prime party pool (the largest in downtown Austin). But despite its grandness and direct access to the convention center, the Fairmont Austin maintains a surprising warmth. This might be why, in addition to being the largest US outpost of the hotel chain when it debut, the Fairmont Austin is also one of the most loved — it currently sits in the number one spot of Conde Nast Traveler‘s Top 20 Hotels in Texas: Readers’ Choice.
The Little Things
In every room, expect plush bathrobes, a Nespresso machine, and luxe Le Labo products, including the Fairmont’s signature scent, Rose 31.
The Gold Lounge
We were lucky to score one of the 131 upgraded rooms under the Fairmont Gold umbrella. Billed as “a hotel within a hotel,” the experience delivered. A Gold room key grants you access to a dedicated concierge team, private check-in and checkout, and most importantly, the Gold Lounge, which offers an expansive breakfast spread, evening hors d’oeuvres, and impressive downtown Austin views.
Who Stays Here?
Everyone. We saw couples of all ages, although that weekend was particularly youthful — a high school girls’ volleyball tournament was happening in the area. Given its proximity to the convention center, the hotel is an obvious stop for conventioneers, but talking with local friends, it’s clear that Fairmont Austin also makes for an excellent staycation.
A good deal of families also made an appearance that weekend. Our group included a 5-year-old, who found plenty of new friends to play with at the pool.
The Fairmont Austin Spa
My visit to the Fairmont Spa — a gorgeous space that could go toe to toe with some of the best in Dallas — was a bit last minute, so a massage or facial was off the table. Fortunately for me, something just as comforting awaited: an appointment with Ni Saletta.
I say this in all seriousness — Saletta gave me the greatest manicure and pedicure of my entire life. (And I consider myself relatively seasoned in the mani-pedi department!) Honestly, I would consider making the three-hour drive from Dallas just to spend some time with her magic hands. If you don’t take my word for it, just peruse the many, many 5-star TripAdvisor reviews for the Fairmont Austin Spa, many of which call out Saletta.
Dining at Fairmont Austin
In addition to Saletta’s transcendent pedicure, another highlight was Garrison. It felt strange not to be venturing out into a city filled with incredible independent restaurants, but it turned out, there was a hidden dining gem right under our noses.
Before getting to Garrison, however, I should set the unique and expansive dining scene at the Fairmont Austin. Just off the lobby, Fulton, home to elevated bar snacks and a towering, twinkling oak centerpiece, is the first of five bars and restaurants you’ll discover at the hotel. Just beyond, you’ll find Revuea Las Vegas-style food court (cuisine offerings include Japanese, American Italian, Thai, and more) and Good Things, which doubles as a hotel gift shop and a cozy coffee outpost. Ascend to the seventh floor to find Rules & Regs, which offers vibrant views of Rainey Street and sits next to Fairmont Austin’s buzzy full-service pool.
Venture past all the l0bby-level destinations mentioned above to arrive at Garrison, tucked behind the façade of a classic Southern home (pretty front porch, Greek Revival columns, and all). We tried every inventive dish our waitress confidently suggested: truffle tater tots, tuna Crudo with yuzu koshö, Parker house rolls with fermented honey, and the Green Circle Chicken with black truffle. We would order every last bite again — paired with the restaurant’s award-winning wine program.
Pro Tip: Sit at the bar if you can to watch executive chef Jakub Czyszczon and his talented team make dining dreams a wood-fired reality.
Don’t dismiss the Fairmont Austin as just another link in a hotel chain. Sure, there are moments of hospitality homogeny, but there are also plenty of thoughtful touches and luxurious amenities to set the downtown destination apart.