01. Introduction: Back to reality with Frontier Airlines
02. Frontier Airlines A320neo Stretch seat San Diego to Austin
03. W Hotel, Downtown Austin
04. Hilton, Austin Airport
05. Frontier Airlines A320 Stretch seat Austin to San Diego
It was almost as if I could hear the pulse of that hypnotic dance music as soon as the Uber driver exited the freeway and dropped us right into the heart of downtown Austin. It was 9pm on a Saturday night, and the streets looked to be alive with tourists and locals alike (dressed to impress), out and about and looking for a good time. Being in the center of the action was my primary reason for choosing the W Hotel for this trip – and as we pulled up to the front entrance after the 25 minute journey from the Austin Bergstrom Airport, I couldn’t help but think that this might be one of my most interesting hotels stays. Like, ever.
Location map of the W Hotel downtown Austin Texas, approximately two short blocks away from the most awesomely-named Asian restaurant in the world (well, at least in Texas). I assure you that Mama Fu did not pay me to write that.
The exterior of this property looked really good and it seemed to be in an excellent location right in the heart of Austin, and you would think that I would be filled with nothing but good feelings before going in, but…(and I hate to say this)…you’d be wrong. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was faced with two minor doubts about this place.
Doubt number one:
First, having just dealt with a massive four hour delay on my flight from San Diego, I was in no mood for loud noises and obnoxious people – I had more than my fair share of that nonsense for the day, thank you very much. Not only could I hear every beat of the music even before walking through the front door, it was so loud that I could feel it deep in my chest. Oh boy.
Before you blast me for being too old and unable to appreciate a good party when I saw one, you have to keep in mind that the only thing that I was looking forward to at that moment was deep (newborn baby-like) sleep. Unfortunately, the vibe inside a W Hotel on Saturday night would make you think that they had just made sleeping illegal for the weekend, and it was going to be strictly enforced. The punishment for violating this law? Being assigned a room within the same block as the rowdy 50-bro bachelor party who had just arrived fresh from the airport ready to set the town ablaze.
Doubt number two:
W hotels are very good at many things (such as providing hip and stylish accommodations at a decent price), but they are also really good at making people over the age of 35 like me feel really old. Seriously – nothing will make you feel like a grandparent faster than being surrounded by beautiful young people draped in expensive clothes while simultaneously wishing that they would turn down the music because you can’t hear what the GQ-looking guy checking you in is telling you about the pool. I think he said something about it being a “Las Vegas style experience”, and that it was not a quiet place to hang out and relax. It didn’t matter anyway because the only thing that I had planned for the evening was staying in my room and clamping a fluffy pillow over my head for the next 12 hours or so.
Despite the rowdy atmosphere that I just described, these pics were actually taken the next morning as I was checking out. Don’t let them fool you though – early Sunday mornings at the W are a completely different experience than Saturday nights!
A quick look down the street, which gives you a pretty good idea of the kind of neighborhood that this W is located. This place was hoppin’ last night, but it’s ghost town central this morning. Everybody must be at church praying to be forgiven for the **** that went down last night.
For as nice of a hotel that this is, I found the main entrance to be remarkably bland.
Immediately to the left as you walk in is this lounge – and based on what I witnessed the evening prior when I arrived, it was astounding to me that there wasn’t a team of people in here cleaning up all the shattered shot glasses and dead bodies.
The concierge desk. Seems as if they were sleeping off a hard night of partying as well, because there was no one here to help this morning.
Red pillows! Yep, red accents make me feel at home right away, and thankfully this was just the beginning. You’re going to see a whole lot more red from here on out…
The dog-friendly check in desk.
I told you that you’re going to be seeing a lot more red in this review! How cool are these guestroom hallways?
It’s impossible for me not to like a hotel that matches my shoes.
I do believe that this is the first time in my life that I have ever found the hallways in a hotel to be so interesting that it gave me an urge to walk around and take pics around every corner. That’s it. As soon as I get home, I’m painting all the walls in my house gray and red!
Room 904 for the night. I’m happy to report that it was high enough that I was able to sleep undisturbed by all the partying bro’s downstairs.
What do I see is soon as I open the door? A lipstick-red chair, just begging me to walk up to it and take a picture of it with my red shoes. Don’t worry – even though I did exactly that, I will spare you the agony of having to scroll past silly pictures like that. This is a very serious hotel review after all!
It was kind of funny to see so much color coming into this room, but having everything turn marshmallow-white as soon as I turned my camera a little bit to the right. *poof!*
Turning around to look at the door I just came in through, hoping to see something else dripping in the best color in the world (which is red, duh).
I guess when it came right down to it, it didn’t really matter what color this room was. The plan was for my eyes to be closed for a majority of my time in here anyway, so it could have been the color of an old 1971 Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon (complete with the wood trim) for all I cared.
Looking the other way, towards the entrance. And no, all-black North Face backpacks are not included with the room. Hey, trip reporting is hard and I’m gonna mess up sometimes!
Dramatic desk shot.
When you have a craving for a red robe, but all you get is white. But at least the interior of the closet is that same cool dark gray color from the hallway!
Contents of bedside table numero uno.
Contents of bedside table numero dos, complete with the obligatory alarm clock that is showing the wrong time and day. Seriously, when was the last time you were in a hotel room where the alarm clock was even in the same ballpark of the actual current time?
It’s true: drunk people are much more willing to spend an obscene amount of money on overpriced snacks after a long night of partying. Props to W hotels for giving them that opportunity.
Let’s go see what’s happening in the bathroom, shall we?
Is it odd that I’m not a fan of shallow sinks? Overflow anxiety like a mofo…
The shower. Oh, that funky shower. At the risk of sounding like I’m complaining too much, all I’m gonna say is that my toes curled at the thought of stepping into that dirty thing.
If you ever find yourself in room 904 here at the W Austin, do yourself a favor and keep your eyes straight ahead when you’re in the shower. Looking down and noticing all of that mold and cracked tile along the edges is going to make your toes curl so bad that you’ll have cramps for days. Just sayin’.
I can’t decide if I really love or really hate that wallpaper. On one hand, I find the pattern completely mesmerizing. On the other hand, looking at it for more than 5 seconds (easy to do if you pretend to be a mouse trying to find the cheese in another section) made me dizzy and felt like I was gonna fall off the toilet.
Oh – and then there was the view. Pretty nice actually, but I would’ve preferred to have been facing the other way to have a nice view of downtown. At least I had an unobstructed view of Mama Fu’s!
And since this is Texas, it was impossible to resist this beef brisket omelette for room service breakfast the next morning. Easily the best omelette I’ve ever had, which is saying a lot, because I’ve had a lot of them over the years. I doubt even Mama Fu could whip up something better than this sorry Mama!).
Because it would’ve been inappropriate of me to end this trip report without a picture of something red.
My biggest take away from this experience was the fact that I’m going to think long and hard about the next time that I book a night at a W Hotel. Not because I thought it was bad or anything, but when it comes right down to it, W hotels are something that you kind of have to be in the mood for.
In my mind, a weekend out with friends is an excellent excuse to stay at a W Hotel. It’s the kind of property that encourages social interaction, and if you’ve got a bunch of rowdy friends looking to hang out and have a good time for a couple days, look no further than a W. But for solo travelers like me (over the ripe old age of 35) who view hotels as an escape from the chaos of airports and tourist traps, it’s the kind of place you might want to avoid if “quiet” is important.
Not that I would recommend stooping as low as a Hilton Garden Inn right next to the airport or anything, but there’s a lot of middle ground out there (Westin, Grand Sheraton, etc) which offer stylish accommodations without making you feel like you’re an old fart who’s too “experienced” to appreciate a hip hotel room.
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