Hotel Saint Cecilia is only a short drive from the main Hideaway Report office in Austin, so we recently paid a return visit for short staycation. We had hoped that a sojourn at our hometown hideaway would help us unwind, and that it would come with none of the stresses customary on a packed editorial research trip.
The South Congress district is one of the epicenters of tourism in Austin, but even as locals we were surprised by all the new buildings going up near the hotel. (The concierge had warned us about the construction ahead of time.) The Hotel Saint Cecilia has always felt like a refuge from the bustle of South Congress Avenue, but we could still hear the sounds of power tools from behind its ivy-covered walls.
On arrival, a friendly staff member greeted us, took our bags and helped us with a quick check-in. We settled into our second-floor poolside bungalow. The room was decorated in a blend of midcentury and rock-and-roll-influenced styles (rock posters, turntables and the like). We selected a classic record to listen to and from the comfort of the Hastens bed, we were barely aware of the distant construction (which will continue through 2020).
After a brief rest, we continued lounging poolside. The pool at the Saint Cecilia is small but extremely stylish, and it’s easy to fritter away an entire afternoon beneath the iconic “Soul” neon sign. The service was friendly without being intrusive, and we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch of salads, French fries and grapefruit margaritas.
On previous stays, service has been occasionally lethargic and inattentive, but the current staff members are both friendly and professional. The food was also consistently good. Having omelets delivered to our room for breakfast and taking the time to peruse the newspaper felt wonderfully indulgent.
If you’re a coffee snob, it’s worth a walk down the street to Mañana near the South Congress Hotel. Shopaholics may wish to linger on South Congress Avenue. Among our favorite stores are Stag for men’s apparel and accessories, Allen’s Boot, and the gift shop at the Austin Motel, which has all kinds of kitschy souvenirs. At night, catch a honky-tonk show at the nearby Continental Club or walk across the bridge into the bright lights of downtown.
Despite our initial concerns with the construction noise, the Saint Cecilia lived up to expectations. It is still the most refined and distinctive place to stay in central Austin.