Having never been to Austin, the only thing I’d ever heard about was how hip it is and, well, “weird”. Every person I’ve met in recent years that’s visited this funky little Texas town, has talked about the “vibes” and energy that Austin oozes out of every side street and eclectic corner bar. Needless to say, I had high hopes for how cool the Van Zandt would be. Well, I’m happy to report that it really was as cool as the city itself! From a complimentary social hour set to vintage vinyl, to groovy art and contemporary room styles, we were ecstatic to discover this gem of a hotel in the center of Austin.
The Hotel Van Zandt is centrally located right off of Rainey Street in the Rainey Street Historic District. This is the hub of bar and nightlife and just a short 20-minute walk from South Congress (SoCo) across the bridge (or 10 minutes on a handy electric scooter, like Skip or Bird).
Its position by the river gives it an epic view of Lady Bird Lake from many of the rooms. A short, 5-minute walk will take you down to the famous riverside trail, where you can engage in a little exercise, or simply enjoy watching the vibrant Austinites hike, bike, kayak and, well, whatever that was.
Overall, the location is excellent. However, it’s important to note that some of the rooms, particularly the Lake View Spa Suite, are directly on top of Rainey St, which can get quite loud.
Lobby & Check in experience: 5/5
The lobby is a large, open and beautifully decorated space. The concierge and check-in desks are located directly in front of the doors and you can’t miss them. To the left is a cozy cafe and to the right is the living room (aka my favorite room). The living room has a large fireplace, comfy couches and tons of faux-fur blankets to lounge about with.
The check-in experience was excellent and came with a nice, cold beer in hand. The service was sweet and efficient with a touch of Texas charm. We were on our way to our room within minutes.
Now, there was a bit of confusion with our room type when we checked in, and we did have to move a couple of times before we got it right. However, while that was a bit of a nuisance, the positive is that we can sufficiently show you not 1, but 3 room types and give you our best guidance on what we liked and didn’t like!
LAKEVIEW DELUXE KING
The first room we were put in was the Lakeview Deluxe King. While fairly cozy at 330 square feet, it did have all the amenities you’d need including a comfortable king bed, bathroom with large open shower and a small desk area. The view was indeed fully of the lake and was a beautiful site in the evening. For one or two nights, this room would be more than sufficient in terms of space. It is the same size as the Deluxe King for approximate $50 more for the lakeview. I personally love looking at bodies of water, so it’s worth it for me. It’s also worth noting that anything with a lakeview is located on the opposite side of the building from Rainey Street.
LAKEVIEW LUXURY SPA SUITE
The second room we were moved to was the Spa Suite. To be honest, I preferred the standard room to this suite and here’s why: the bedroom was directly over the bars on Rainey Street (yes, I know I said lakeview rooms are on the opposite side, but this room is an exception, since it stretches to both sides of the building). The room was so loud and I am very sensitive when it comes to my sleep quality. However, the room is sizeable at 500 sq feet and contains a living room to the right as you enter with a large couch and television and then a bathroom that separates the living room from the bedroom. There is a large soaking tub and double vanity in the bathroom. The bedroom is beautifully equipped with a TV and king bed. I found the bathroom to be a bit odd since it was in the middle of the room. A soaking tub should come with a great view if possible, in my opinion, so it was a little disappointing.
LAKEVIEW SPA KING
Our last and absolute favorite room was the Lakeview Spa King. This was the room we had planned for and were ecstatic when we ended up moving to it. The Lakeview Spa King is a true gem of a room at the Van Zandt. The sweeping views from the corner room over the lake are spectacular. At 510 square ft, the room is large with a long entry hallway, large bathroom with a double vanity, soaking tub and wonderful shower, as well as a large bedroom with a king bed, sofa and breakfast nook perfectly situated with the view. Coming home from a day of exploring to this spectacular view and comfortable room was the definition of perfect. These rooms are on the opposite side of the hotel from Rainey Street, so there was no sound issues whatsoever. The sunsets and towering views were marvelous since the room is covered in windows.
The Van Zandt has a number of amenities that are excellent. From the rooftop pool with outdoor firepits, to the complimentary social hour from 5-6, you can’t go wrong. Social Hour is a unique Kimpton feature that I’ve always loved and they do it right at the Van Zandt. Margaritas, wine and beer combined with the jazzy vinyl playing in the background make for a wonderful experience in the lobby by the fireplace.
The restaurant, Geraldine’s also has live music every night, which was spectacular to experience. They’ve really captured the essence of Austin with their amenities on property.
While there is no coffee machine in your room, I did find out later I could have requested one. They do offer coffee in the lobby in the morning, but make sure to get there well before they close to get some. Otherwise, the cafe in the lobby serves delicious coffee.
Overall, all the rooms are excellent. The design aesthetic, feeling of “newness” and general hip energy is exactly what you would want from a trip to Austin. Choosing a room just comes down to what you are looking to do in Austin. I am not a “party animal” and go to bed on the earlier side, so the suite overlooking Rainey Street just wasn’t for me. However, if you like to party and want a really fun view of the bars and restaurants, then this might very well be for you.
Geraldine’s was excellent. We ate at Geraldines’ on our first night in Austin and the experience was wonderful. The cocktails, wine and food offerings captured the southern, but modern, flair of Austin. We stayed after dinner for the band and they rocked the night away. The bar was super packed and there seemed to be a lot of locals, which was so much fun.
My favorite dishes were the Bourbon Glazed Cauliflower, the Filet Mignon and the Quail. Every cocktail I had was delicious so you cannot go wrong there.
Overall, the service was great. Staff were friendly, helpful and wanted to make you happy throughout your stay. The staff managing the bar at social hour were kind and seemed genuinely curious about your day. Housekeeping did a great job and the turndown service was a really nice touch.
I love hotels that embrace the local culture and showcase those elements throughout the hotel. Kimpton has always done an excellent job at this and I was particularly impressed by the music and the impact music had on the hotel. Records in the lobby and cool, hip furniture adorned all the rooms in the hotel and it all tied in really well together.
The Hotel Van Zandt was an excellent retreat in downtown Austin and I wouldn’t hesitate to return. From the great service and amenities to the brilliant location in the heart of the city, you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for a boutique vibe and high quality experience.