Over the past few years, Austin has become one of the biggest entertainment centers (more than just music) in the country. Many movies and TV shows are being produced in this area (eg Love & Death) and recently, podcaster/comedian Joe Rogan opened a new comedy club in the former Ritz on Sixth Street. (We visited the club, and it’s a lot of fun if you’re into stand-up.) On our recent trip to Austin, we stayed in Austin. Hotel Van Zandt a music-themed hotel in the heart of the Rainey Street District, which proved that the growth of the Texas capital is not slowing down anytime soon.
Opened in 2015, Hotel Van Zandt is a 16-story boutique hotel called Townes Van Zandt. It was once part of the Kimpton brand before being bought by Host Hotels & Resorts in 2022. The hotel features candles made from French horn, vinyl art of flying birds, vintage photos, and more about its musical theme. . In 2018, he was named No. 9 in the US Condé Nast TravelerBest Hotels. During a recent weekend trip, we came across one of the best hotels of 2023 in Austin according to Time out to ourselves. And there are many reasons to stay at Hotel Van Zandt.
Here are our top three:
Location, Location, Location
One of the most important things we have to start with. Hotel Van Zandt is located near one of Austin’s busiest night spots – Rainey Street. It’s great to be in the middle of the action and an easy walk to bars, restaurants, and live music. I mean, it can get loud at night because of this. If you don’t plan to be out until 1 a.m. with the rest of the city on the weekend, I recommend a room on the pool side of the building. Or, the hotel provides earplugs at the front desk if you prefer. It’s hard to beat the convenience of just a 12-minute walk to Sixth Street or a seven-minute walk to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
Geraldine’s New Chef and Menu
Hotel Van Zandt’s new Executive Chef Sergio Ledesma just released a new menu at the Texas restaurant earlier this month and we got to try it for dinner. Classics from the previous menu remain like buttermilk biscuits and pork ribs, but now there are new dishes with Asian and Latin American influences. But first, start with the stores saved by Bell. It’s mezcal, red pepper, honey, basil, lemon, and angostura creation. The bell pepper aspect sounded strange to me at first, but it’s surprisingly refreshing and delicious.
Our server said we could order four or five dishes because everything on the menu had to be shared. For starters, we enjoyed hamachi crudo and passion fruit nuoc cham with mango. A table for two, everyone got a couple of fresh fish with a sweet and savory combo. We also shared the scallops which were tender and delicious and the Creste di Gallo pasta – my favorite of the evening. It’s beetroot pasta with kohlrabi with pesto, horseradish, and burrata. I couldn’t get enough. That was until Korean Fried Chicken came out. Served in gochujang sauce and topped with fried peanuts and garlic, the chicken was spicy, slightly spicy, and filling. And if you’re feeling beefy, the 12-ounce Picanha Steak with a side of bone-in that you pull off the bone is great.
Live Music at Geraldine’s
The Geraldine doubles as a music venue offering jazz brunches and local music shows. There is something every night of the week from 8pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends. This summer, you can catch artists Trevor Helt, The Weekday Band, Sahara Smith, Daniel Fears, and many more. The restaurant also hosts a “Record Society” every Sunday where guests can bring their own vinyl to play.
Rooftop Pool and Pool Pool
Unfortunately there is new construction blocking most of the views of Lady Bird Lake, but you can still enjoy afternoon cocktails and dining at Hotel Van Zandt’s rooftop pool. Guests can rent cabanas or daybeds, or lounge chairs on a first-come, first-served basis. You can order straight to your seat by scanning the QR code and ordering online. I enjoyed a Mai Gai (a twist on the Mai Tai) and ordered calamari and tzatziki one evening while soaking up the sun.