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Austin Travel Guide

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Austin Hotels

Finding a place to stay in Austin isn't hard. Finding a place with personality is harder. Downtown, ample brand-name high-rises offer anonymous luxury, but despite Austin's history and capital status there are only a few stately, historic hotels. The I-35 corridor is a logjam of chain motels ranging from pleasant to horrid, catering largely to travelers with limited expectations. In the tech-centered

In the tech-centered Northwest, it's hard to drive any distance without passing an all-suites executive lodging.

Fortunately, things are improving. A good number of the hotels we list have benefited from extensive renovations between 2006 and 2008, and Austin is such a competitive market that many managers feel compelled to provide the latest and greatest, whether it's flat-screen TVs, radios with iPod docking stations, or ultra-comfy beds. This being Austin, free, public Wi-Fi is near-ubiquitous.

Downtown, the Driskill and the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin are two grandes dames that still shine. A couple of old motor courts on South Congress have been rediscovered and refitted, capturing Austin's bohemian charms. In the business district, there are plans to build a 1,000-room Marriott convention-center hotel (to be completed in 2011), ruffling a few local feathers in the process. On the other end of the spectrum are several well-run bed-and-breakfasts in historic homes.

Conventions and university events can pack the city at any time, but you'll especially need to plan ahead during a University of Texas football home game, South by Southwest in March, the Austin City Limits festival in September, or legislative sessions (held in odd-numbered years). At slower times many hotels have deep discounts. Keep in mind that parking at downtown hotels can add over $20 a day to your bill. In general, only hotels near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport have free airport shuttles.

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