Travel

Step Inside the Austin Motel

When news broke last year that the Dean family, who’ve owned and operated the Austin Motel since 1993, were selling, locals were nervous. Would developers Greenfield Partners keep the funky spirit of the South Congress motor court? Yes, thankfully. The group tapped the talented Texas hotelier Liz Lambert—who has five additional properties in her portfolio, including two, Hotel San José and Hotel Saint Cecilia, within walking distance—to update and renovate the circa-1938 motor court. They also pledged to preserve the motel’s bulbous red-and-white neon sign—a popular photo-op for tourists and locals. “We tried to keep the casual feel and the playful spirit that have made the hotel special without being kitschy or theme-y,” Lambert says of the redesign. “Everything flowed from the sign and from the time periods [in the hotel’s history] that were meaningful to me—1930s for molding and detail, 1950s for color schemes, and 1980s for pop art. To be honest, we didn’t change all that much.”

Scroll through the gallery for a glimpse of the motel’s new look.

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The iconic sign at the Austin Motel.

photo: Nick Simonite

The courtyard.

photo: Nick Simonite

An exterior look at the lobby of the Austin Motel.

photo: Nick Simonite

The lobby’s retail store.

photo: Nick Simonite

The interior of the lobby at the Austin Motel.

photo: Nick Simonite

The Fine Foods patio bar.

photo: Nick Simonite

Two cocktails—Ann Richards’ Revenge and That Sangria Wine—at Fine Foods.

photo: Nick Simonite

Jo’s Burger-Box—burger, fries, and onion rings—at Fine Foods.

photo: Nick Simonite

Poolside at the Austin Motel.

photo: Nick Simonite

Poolside drinks.

photo: Nick Simonite

A guest room.

photo: Nick Simonite

Robes in a guest room.

photo: Nick Simonite

The sitting area in a guest room.

photo: Nick Simonite

Room 3.

photo: Nick Simonite