Architecture & Lodging
2013 Readers Poll
2013 Critics Picks
Best Bed & Breakfast

Situated in Hyde Park, the historic Adams House is a perfectly placed home base for visitors to our fair city. After a breakfast of homemade pastries and quiche, guests can load up on snacks at Antonelli's Cheese Shop before exploring Austin’s wealth of museums, green spaces, and tourist spots, then returning to the neighborhood for tasty noms at Asti or Julio’s. It's a win-win for travelers or staycationers wanting the comforts of home with the perks of vacation.

Adams House Bed & Breakfast
4300 Ave. G
512/453-7696
www.theadamshouse.com

Best Building (Under 10 Stories)

The most amazing thing about the Driskill is that after all this time, it still stands. Col. Jesse Driskill shuttered its grand portals less than a year after it was first opened in 1886 (the reason: Suze Orman wasn't alive yet). Perhaps the closest Austin has since come to a "Driskill-less" Downtown was in 1969, when the building was a chicken's hair away from being demolished. But history-loving Austinites pooled their money and resources to rescue this structure. Needless to say, it's remained in our hearts as the iconic Downtown place to dance, imbibe, and sleep amid history.

The Driskill Hotel
604 Brazos
512/439-1234
www.driskillhotel.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Downtown View

You've already spent a splendid evening reveling in the beauty of the arts inside the theatre, but then you get the ideal nightcap: Walk outside the Long Center's front entrance to be greeted by Downtown's shining face, beautifully framed by that graceful arc of the terrace. If you're lucky, the only thing separating you from that sparkling architecture across the river is a handful of Blue Lapis Light dancers dangling from aerial silks. Perfection.

Best Historic Site

The Texas State Capitol is one constant in this booming, ever-changing city. History is scattered in those expansive lawns, hiding tributes to our past as Texans. And swirling around the rotunda, with sometimes creepy smiles, the former governors stare down the Legislature, tourists, protestors, and an infinite number of sixth-grade classes, all sheltered by this 125-year-old hat tip to the scale of all things in Texas.

Texas State Capitol
1100 Congress
512/305-8400
www.tspb.state.tx.us

Best Hotel

Part modern-upscale lodging for the hip and fabulous, part gathering place for local gadabouts and people-watchers, Hotel San José embodies Austin’s youthful ethos, all sleek edges and immaculately tended xeriscaping. With its weekly brunches, tarot readings, and live music amid the lush courtyards, the former motor court is the beating heart of the SoCo strip.

Hotel San José
1316 S. Congress
512/852-2350
www.sanjosehotel.com

Best Hotel/Motel Pool

For the third year running our readers have chosen this swanky spot to do their ... um ... business. It's the second year it has been chosed as a great place to take a swim. Don't think us weird, but we picture you, reader, in the middle of a wild night: You've come into the W for a cocktail, and you suddenly need a respite to fix your hair, apply a brighter shade of lipstick, or just be alone for a damn minute. In your private, darkened walk-in WC, you do any or all of those things. On the outside, there's a reason the W's hotel pool, Wet, is a registered trademark. Unless you're a registered guest or resident, the only way you're gonna see this sleek 'n' slender slice of heaven is before or after a spa treatment at the W's Away Spa. Still, it's worth trying to take advantage of one of the days when day passes are available to the general public ($25), if only to shed some tears at the opulence. It's not a saltwater pool ... yet.

W Hotel
200 Lavaca
512/542-3600
www.whotelaustin.com

Best Motel

Every year, we are faced with the same quandary regarding our beloved South Congress landmark: dick joke or no dick joke? We've scoured the archives and decided against it for 2013. The Austin Motel, and the careful and loving transformation it went through almost two decades ago, is arguably the reason there is a SoCo. And there is absolutely nothing penile about this place.

Austin Motel
1220 S. Congress
512/441-1157
www.austinmotel.com

Best Patio/Deck

The ridiculous view of Lake Travis from the patio of the Oasis is still worth an evening of beer 'ritas, despite the almost barren water level. That view, paired with some Chicken Fireballs, seafood, and the sexy bodies of post-lake swimmers is a strange sort of sublime. They even have a sunset photo contest every year; the sunsets are that good. Oh, and they have fans with mist blowing in your face. And it's suspended on the side of a massive hill, hundreds of feet in the air. Oh, look! We can see some water!

The Oasis
6550 Comanche Trl.
512/266-2442
www.oasis-austin.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Public Art

Let us proffer a warning to you: Watch where you step in this outdoor polymorphic and polychromed playground. There are broken beer bottles, discharged spray cans, rusty rebar, and hard-edged, concrete lining sinkholes. Safety first, people. But we suggest watching your step for another reason, namely that the nature of the art here is ephemeral, and if you're not looking everywhere (up and down), you may miss some mark or message in one of the many concrete wells. Take in the view, sure, but live in the minutiae.

HOPE Outdoor Gallery
1101 Baylor
hopecampaign.org

Best Restroom

For the third year running our readers have chosen this swanky spot to do their ... um ... business. It's the second year it has been chosed as a great place to take a swim. Don't think us weird, but we picture you, reader, in the middle of a wild night: You've come into the W for a cocktail, and you suddenly need a respite to fix your hair, apply a brighter shade of lipstick, or just be alone for a damn minute. In your private, darkened walk-in WC, you do any or all of those things. On the outside, there's a reason the W's hotel pool, Wet, is a registered trademark. Unless you're a registered guest or resident, the only way you're gonna see this sleek 'n' slender slice of heaven is before or after a spa treatment at the W's Away Spa. Still, it's worth trying to take advantage of one of the days when day passes are available to the general public ($25), if only to shed some tears at the opulence. It's not a saltwater pool ... yet.

W Hotel
200 Lavaca
512/542-3600
www.whotelaustin.com

Best Sign

Every year, we are faced with the same quandary regarding our beloved South Congress landmark: dick joke or no dick joke? We've scoured the archives and decided against it for 2013. The Austin Motel and the careful and loving transformation it went through almost two decades ago is arguably the reason there is a SoCo. And there is absolutely nothing penile about this place.

Austin Motel
1220 S. Congress
512/441-1157
www.austinmotel.com

Best Skyscraper

It’s dangerous walking Downtown. At any time, you might collide with city strollers stopping in their tracks to Instagram a shot of the FBT's crystalline clarity. Also, from skyline vistas afar (take North Burnet Road headed south, for example), this jutting crown creates a unique profile, distinguishing itself from more recent additions that seek to dwarf it. Standing tall and proud for close to a decade, the Frost's 500-foot walls reflecting the Austin skyline clearly never get old.

Frost Bank Tower
401 Congress
512/473-4343
www.frostbank.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Statue

Ever dream of sitting down and shootin' the hay with Willie Nelson? You just know he'd have some real killer advice. Well, with just a little imagination, we think that Willie's statue in front of the Moody Theater is an excellent stand-in for the man himself. The next time you're feeling blue, why not head down to the Moody and tell ole bronze Willie what's troubling you? He's a really good listener, we promise.

Willie Nelson Statue
West Second & Lavaca

Best Window Display

Despite the disparity in economies of scale (local atelier vs. national chain), the window designers working at these shops are c'est magnifique. First there's Aaron Flynn, whose visual signatures (geometry, animalia, unjustifiably unexpected visual combos) are all over the heart of darkness we call Blackmail. And then there are the Anthropologie window dressers, who receive a style profile and a load of raw materials to play with and develop. Getting that job requires a hard-hitting résumé and rounds of interviews ... we're still waiting for our callback.

Blackmail
1202 S. Congress
512/804-5881
www.blackmailboutique.com

Anthropologie
601 N. Lamar
512/236-9301
www.anthropologie.com

Todd V. Wolfson

 
2013 Intro
Readers: Arts & Culture

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