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 me 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.
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.
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.