South Congress is one of Austin’s most popular strips, with classic hot spots like the Continental Club and Guero’s Tacos. Staying in the thick of things is fun, and being able to walk back to your hotel at night is even better. There are several options along South Congress Avenue, but this one is the most unusual—and possibly the least expensive. It fits in so well on SoCo because it is funky in the best sense of the word. The motto? “So close and yet so far out.” This is a traditional old-school motel built in 1938, and it’s been run by the same family since the 1950s. The rooms are standard and unspectacular, and there’s an old-fashioned kidney-shaped pool like any other old motor court in America. The management says it’s kind of like staying in the home of an eccentric old aunt, and it’s been compared to a folk art museum—there’s always a statue or a piece of art or some odd piece of furniture around every corner. Each room is different, and many have unusual colors (chartreuse pink in one room, bright blue in another). Some even have motel-quality art, like the Great Wall of China in room 253. Certainly, the Austin Motel’s style doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes, so you may want to check out photos on the Web before making a reservation. For those who knew Austin in the 1970s in its Armadillo World Headquarters heyday, staying here feels like you’ve found your way back to the good old days. Pluses include free HBO, free coffee in the lobby each morning, and an odd retro Austin charm. The location is the thing here—you may find a comparable rate downtown, but you won’t be on SoCo. Be sure to check the calendar for South by Southwest and Austin City Limits music festival dates—this would be a perfect location during that time, but the rates are high during those dates, and a vacancy may be hard to find. In 2013 the Austin Motel celebrated its 75th birthday, and “The Austin Chronicle” gave it the same birthday present it has for the past 10 years—its award for “Best Motel in Austin.” (It also voted its famous “So Close and Yet So Far Out” sign as the best in town.) Some things never change—thank goodness.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.