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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