Authentic Austin: Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt

The Pancho’s Suite is 900 square feet in size and has views of downtown Austin.(Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt)

When we were offered a welcome beer at Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, we knew the programming of our very special visit had already begun.

The hotel, just off Rainey Street (home to much live music and food trucks), was built from the ground up as a Kimpton, so we had no doubt the “lifestyle” element was always going to be at the forefront of the guest experience. We found that to be exactly the case, with something always happening inside the hotel, which opened in 2015.

Let’s start with the free wine in the very large, living room-style lobby each evening. On our first night, a local rising star serenaded us all with original songs on his guitar. The following evening, management DJ’d music on vinyl records on the lobby’s vintage-style record player. In each instance, hotel executives handed out glasses of wine to guests who were either coming out of the hotel’s very high-tech meeting rooms or back in from a day out in Austin. Girlfriends on getaways lined the couches and toasted each other and a mix of business people sat with colleagues in a relaxed manner, seeming pleased that they could now take in a bit of the local environment after a long day.

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The Pool Deck makes the hotel an urban oasis, with drink service and views of the city.

In our case, we’d just arrived from spending a day at the hotel’s pool deck, which is furnished with lounges and cabanas facing a clear skyline and Lady Bird Lake. Food and drink is served from the adjacent restaurant, Geraldine’s, where we ate several times for its Texas-style food (think barbecued short ribs and bourbon-glazed cauliflower) and cocktails such as the 24 Carat Magic (Tito’s vodka, carrot juice, ginger, tamarind and lemon). Geraldine’s also hosts live music nightly; it’s a great chance to hear local talent for free. There’s also a jazz brunch each Sunday.

We loved our Corner King room, which was 380 square feet in size, but made to feel all the more spacious with its full-size windows overlooking downtown and the lake. The hotel has five presidential suites; that’s because the city has become quite the magnet for live events that draw a high-profile clientele. Lefty’s Suite, in particular, is popular for its great views and its vintage upright piano. Nice Touch: There’s also poker table (cards and chips included). The 900-square-foot corner suite also has kitchenette and a large bathroom with a soaking tub.

Lakeview Spa Suites have deep soaking tubs, with a view, making them high in demand.

Note: We hear the Lakeview Spa Suite is the most requested room at the hotel, thanks to the lovely views of Lady Bird Lake from its own soaker tub.

For assistance navigating the variety of room types at the hotel, reach out to Erin Beck ([email protected]).

For those looking to dig in to the local Austin scene, the concierge, Adam Foraker ([email protected]) can point you in the direction of some of the city’s most interesting building murals; he can also give you insider tips on what to do on Rainey Street. This new area of Austin developed when the houses along the block  were zoned to allow commercial enterprises; what arose is a series of bungalow-style accommodations that now house restaurants and bars, and many of them have live music playing on their front stoops in the evening. This is true Austin, made even more special by its two food truck enclaves that serve seriously delicious cuisine of all sorts.

Guests may borrow bicycles to explore downtown Austin and sites nearby like Lady Bird Lake.

If you’re a traveler in search of a wellness experience, Foraker can send you where the locals go, including Wanderlust Yoga and SoulCycle. He’s also savvy on one of downtown Austin’s top boutique shopping districts, just nearby on 2nd Street.

Did we mention that the hotel has a series of bikes in its lobby, yours for the taking (do sign up ahead of time as on certain days, they’re quite popular). If you do decide to ride, two must-see stops are Lady Bird Lake and the Texas Capitol building. The hotel is also just a four-minute walk to the city’s convention center and a 10-minute walk to the 6th Street Entertainment district.

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