The quirky Texan capital of Austin is bursting with hip and re-imagined hotels, but the Line, which opened in June 2018, is the most exciting among them. Housed in a white mid-century building with arched windows, the former tired Radisson was overhauled by the Sydell Group, which has two other Line hotels, in Los Angeles and Washington DC. Austin is a city synonymous with good times, and this hotel reflects that - a place where partying is encouraged, along with bringing your pets (they stay for free) and awakening your sense of creativity.
The Line is right in the centre of Austin's downtown district, overlooking Congress Bridge and Town Lake. You're walking distance from South Congress Avenue's excellent vintage clothing and book stores; from live music hot-spot Sixth Street; and from Rainey Street, with its cosy bungalows-turned-bars. The hotel's lakeside Arlo Grey restaurant has front row seats to Austin's famed sunset bat show. Each evening between March and October, the 1.5 million bats roosting beneath Congress Bridge - the largest urban bat colony in the world - head out to feed.
The Line's open lobby is an Instagrammers heaven, featuring rough concrete surfaces, millennium pink walls, hanging planters, fireplaces and a lusciously wrinkled white canvas ceiling, and it buzzes with mostly young, cool-looking guests. As part of the revamp, the Line commissioned Central Texan artists to create more than 500 original artworks for the hotel, which hang in the public spaces and the 428 guest rooms and suites. The pool area has a party vibe on the spring Saturday afternoon of my stay, with guests mingling beneath plaid pool umbrellas and on the semi-submerged sun-loungers. Upstairs at the rooftop bar P6 (named after the parking garage it overtook) the vibe is more relaxed, with guests sipping cocktails and eating Mediterranean small plates and antipasti on the wraparound outdoor terrace, with panoramic views of the lake. The Line also has a 24-hour gym, for those wanting to work off the inevitably overindulgent Austin evenings.
The fabulous lake views through the floor-to-ceiling windows are what first grab me upon entering my 28-square-metre Lakeside King room. Once I've digested those, smaller details sink in: the sandblasted plywood bedhead that looks like a topographical map; the chunk of crystal and the artfully-stacked design books sitting atop the Scandinavian-style wooden table; the brass cage light with its multiple globes; the Palo Santo (a South American wood said to ward off negative energies when burnt) beside the bed. There's also a good TV, a rain shower in the bathroom with customised bath products by American Medicinal Arts and a clothing steamer in the cupboard, something all hotel rooms really should have.
With Top Chef 10 winner Kristen Kish running the kitchen and a chic dining space featuring a black bar and brass hanging planters, Arlo Grey restaurant is a destination in itself. The mood is fun and a bit special, with a menu designed to share. Highlights include the prawn agnolotti with parmesan, artichoke and shellfish broth; the fried chicken with jicama slaw and pickled daikon; and the Devil's Backbone cocktail with mezcal, pineapple and lime, served by staff exuding warm southern hospitality. The Line also offers more casual dining at its eclectic dive bar and burger joint, Dean's One Trick Pony. The coffee is excellent at the outpost of LA-based Alfred Coffee in the lobby.
Being the "Live Music Capital of the World", on any given night in Austin about100 acts perform in venues across the city - Continental Club and Elephant Room are stand-outs. For cocktails, Garage Bar, set in an underground carpark, and Midnight Special on Sixth Street are both excellent, and both within walking distance of the Line. For shopping, take the 25-minute walk (or use the hotel's complimentary bikes) to South Congress Avenue – don't miss the vintage clothing at Feathers Boutique, used books at South Congress Books and handmade cowboy boots at Allen's Boots. In summer, cool off in the city's beloved Barton Springs public swimming hole, or rent a stand-up paddleboard on Town Lake.
A hotel that perfectly captures Austin's creative, exuberant spirit and an exceedingly fun place to spend a few days, at least.
Rooms from $US275 a night, excluding taxes and fees. See thelinehotel.com/austin
The excellent downtown location, and the buzz that comes with being one of the hottest spots in town.
If you wanted to relax by the pool, especially on weekends, the party vibe could be annoying.
Nina Karnikowski stayed as a guest of Travel Texas.