Where to stay while attending SXSW?
January 24, 2008 10:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning on going to SXSW this year. I'll probably stay for at least a few days, maybe a week. Where should I stay? How expensive are accommodations? How far in advance must I make reservations? Are there any popular alternatives to staying in a hotel? p.s. I don't drive.
posted by bingo to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm, you probably should have already booked your hotel, so if I were you I'd start looking ASAP. You may end up getting stuck with availability either very far north or south, which will be a problem if you don't drive. Austin has bus service that is pretty decent, but it doesn't run very late. Ideally you want to be downtown/central Austin or maybe South Congress to stay as close as possible to the activities.

I'd suggest you scour Craigslist; you might be able to find a better deal there. You might also think about seeing if you can find a grad student or similar who has room for you to stay.

I had to go back to Austin in 2006 right at the beginning of SXSW to defend my dissertation, and I ended up staying up in North Austin (approx 15 miles from campus) and probably still paid $80+ a night for the privilege.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:10 PM on January 24, 2008

If you can at all afford it, stay at the Driskill. Not only is it right in the heart of the action, it's also a boss place to spot celebrities. I managed it at one SXSW and it made my stay vastly better than other trips where I was stuck on the North side.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:50 PM on January 24, 2008

In most respects I am a huge North Austin apologist (less cool, close-in, MUCH less expensive) but for SXSW you really ought to be downtown. Even if you drive, parking is a nightmare, and chances are good you'll be pretty loaded. You don't, though, need to be on 6th street.

I always feel sorry when I see confused, frightened, hipsters trying to walk downtown along the I35 access road from their meth motel north of Rundberg.

The good thing is there are thousands of people in your situation. Even if you end up staying at the Arboretum, or whatever, I guarantee you there will be other SXSW'ers there. You'll wait a long time to share a cab, but it'll be fun.
posted by dirtdirt at 4:50 AM on January 25, 2008

I've been going to SXSW for the last few years... unfortunately all of the good hotels within walking distance of 6th street have been booked for months. I would say that if you drove your best bet would be to rent a car and stay a few miles out of town - but as that isn't an option you may want to look into cough surfing.
posted by tundro at 5:49 AM on January 25, 2008

You don't mention which SXSW festival you will be attending, which may make a difference, but like others have mentioned your best bet was to book months ago. I've attended several SXSW Interactive festivals and I've learned your best bet is to book a hotel ASAP, no later than December for best choices.

Have you checked the SXSW hotels page? They have a list of area hotels with rates and availability right on their site. In my personal opinion the Hampton Inn Downtown is the best hotel, but they are already booked for this year. They've also put together a nice map of the hotel locations so you can get a feel for which is closest to where you want to be. Obviously the cost will depend on which hotel you decide to stay in.
posted by geeky at 9:41 AM on January 25, 2008

Like others have mentioned, almost all hotels are booked at this point. But there is hope! Last year and the year before, I talked to last-minute attendees who found cheap rooms to rent on Austin's Craigslist, places that were often closer to the action and cheaper than any pre-planning or hotel-reserving got me...
posted by ibeji at 12:33 PM on January 25, 2008

Response by poster: I was planning on going mainly for film, but partly for tech.

Maybe I'll go next year instead. Meh. But I'll look at Craigslist.
posted by bingo at 4:40 PM on January 25, 2008

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