hotel suggestions for sxsw (music)
November 11, 2008 9:11 PM   Subscribe

Austin hotels for SXSW (music festival)?

Hi everyone. Finally after two years, I have saved up my pennies and decided to go to SXSW for its music festival. I need to book a room, which will be shared by several ppl in order to defray the cost. I have never been to Austin before and am not very familiar with the locations. I know that the action is downtown, but if I can't afford a hotel downtown, what are some affordable options closeby (i.e., taking a cab)?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
posted by dannon205 to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
Bookhouse nailed it when he told someone else asking this question to stay at the Driskill.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:45 PM on November 11, 2008

There's no way you'll be able to get a room at the Driskill this late. I doubt it is the hotel for people on a budget either. There are some good ideas in that other thread.
posted by grouse at 10:00 PM on November 11, 2008

Austin Motel says to contact them during November for (potential) SXSW reservations. I don't know what the non-normal rates would be like, but their usual rates are pretty nice for a South Congress location, which will have some fun stuff going on and be more convenient to downtown than the outlying I-35-ish hotels.
posted by paleography at 10:16 PM on November 11, 2008

Downtown is walkable. Stay anywhere downtown. You can't rely on cabs during SXSW because of the overwhelming demand. If you can't stay downtown, stay as close to downtown as you can. There are some hotels in downtown that are away from the action but still walkable - for affordability try the La Quinta at 300 E 11th St. Also, the longer you put off booking a hotel, the less likely you are to get one.
posted by Pants! at 10:17 PM on November 11, 2008

Yeah, anywhere near South Congress would be good if you can get it, and the Austin or San Jose are favorites from what I hear.

But if the hotel thing doesn't look like it's panning out.... two years ago I had a really good experience during SXSW with a sublet I found on craigslist -- just a guy renting out a room in his house. I lucked out in terms of not only getting a pretty good deal, but in terms of a local connection: he was really pretty enthusiastic about the events, we got along well, and even hit a few shows together. I don't know if everybody who leases out part of their place during SXSW is that cool, and it might be a little early for these things to be popping up on CL or CouchSurfing or what have you, but it's something to consider.
posted by weston at 12:58 AM on November 12, 2008

Seconding the Austin Motel.
posted by caddis at 4:44 AM on November 12, 2008

Your two main arteries into downtown are I-35 and Mopac (TX-1), and they are both crossed by 183. You will find sub-$100 rates around 35 and 183 (there's a newish Super-8 there that's like $60 a night, and was not completely dire when I stayed there about 6 months ago). Austin does not seem to have the number of non-downtown budget hotels it needs (my company gave up and got an apartment, which is where I will be staying for SXSWi), and there's nothing budget left downtown or near downtown (the same low-end extended-stay brand I use in NW Austin for $89/night is closer to $150 closer to downtown, shooting to $170 during special events).

But if you won't have a car, do whatever you can to get in walking distance. Cabbing during the conference is a nightmare. Get a room at the La Quinta if there are any left. The Hampton Inn used to be about $100 but I think it's closer to $130 now, but that may be the next cheapest option. There's a Hilton Garden Inn (not the Hilton Convention Center, which is extremely not cheap) that is right on 35 (and is not the one south of downtown on 35, check a map) and kind of creepy for walking back and forth late at night, but would be walkable to the clubs. It used to have the reputation for being a cheaper option, as the walk is longer but still within the range of possible.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:05 AM on November 12, 2008

I love the Driskill.
posted by stubby phillips at 6:26 AM on November 12, 2008

If you can find it and afford it, you definitely want to stay downtown. But you're probably too late for that. Probably too late for Austin Motel too, since that fills up very early. You'll get the best prices and best info if you go thru Right now they are showing rooms available at the AT&T conference center, which is near UT campus. That would be way better than staying out by the airport or something. You could walk downtown if you really had to, or take the bus. If you're out by the airport or on the interstate somewhere, you'll spend hours standing there waiting for a cab, and trust me -- that sucks. Also, daily cab rides covering that many miles do add up, so consider that when comparing room rates. SXSW does run shuttles to and from the far away hotels, but they don't come often, and they don't start very early in the day, so you'll end up taking a lot of cabs no matter what.

Next year, book your hotel as early as you possibly can. You'll lock in a good rate and a good location, and you can always cancel if you end up not going.
posted by spilon at 6:36 AM on November 12, 2008

Nthing staying downtown/walking distance if you can. I moved to Austin about a year ago and did SXSW last year, and getting parking even early in the day was a pain and expensive. Austin is a driving city and there aren't a lot of cabs, so don't count on finding cabs without calling them.

Good luck finding a place to stay. This is going to be a hassle, but SXSW is worth it.
posted by immlass at 7:54 AM on November 12, 2008

Honestly, if you're doing this now you should go to and rent a car and book the hotel together and just drive to downtown and pay for parking. My recommendation for a cheap hotel is the Howard Johnson on 35; rent a super-cheap car. You can get the hotel room for $60 or less per night; use the savings on renting a car.

If you divide it four ways, it'll be insanely cheap, even with two rooms.

Hotels in downtown can run from $150 to several hundred during SXSW. The Craigslist sublet is a good idea, too.

Do NOT stay at the Baymont Inn. I was just there last weekend and it was so bad (i.e., smell) that I slept with two lit candles all night and still couldn't eat or have people in the room. I thought I was going to die.

The Austin Motel will ALWAYS be at least $130 a room per night as far as I know. Always, as in, weekdays off-season. Even when it's not booked full, which it probably already is, unless you have several people in the room to divide the cost. You have to check with them about reservations, there's no way to tell online. They are slow about responding, typically. Unless things have changed in the past six weeks.

Also, I just checked and the Driskill is booked solid... plus it's expensive as HELL. I can't imagine anyone but talent or rich people staying there, to be honest. It's about like the Four Seasons, although I have attended two lovely weddings there.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:48 PM on November 12, 2008

The Driskill, very impressive, very awesome hotel. However, I am not so sure that this is the kind of place I would want to stay during a rock festival. It's pretty upscale, more like the kind of place you stay if you are in town to buy a company. The Austin Motel is just the right mix of nice/atmosphere for an Austin rock concert. There is no doubt though that the Driskill is one of America's (not just Austin's) great hotels and it would be great to stay there if you ever get the opportunity.
posted by caddis at 8:38 PM on November 12, 2008

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