A Compelling Duo for Stays in Downtown Austin

Millions of people flock to Austin each year for major events like SXSW, Austin City Limits and Formula 1 races, and the city has become a popular vacation destination for its food, nightlife and fun sensibility. But as Austin welcomed travelers, hotels were catching up. A series of recent openings are helping to ease demand, including sister properties ThompsonAustin and tommy austin, which debuted earlier this year in a downtown shared building. As well as providing a comfortable place to spend the night, the duo enlisted a nationally acclaimed chef and bar band for good measure.

Thompson and Tommie are part of the Hyatt portfolio, but they have their own personalities. Thompson hotels blend into the fabric of each city they inhabit, so you can expect something different in Austin than what you’ll find at newly opened outposts in Dallas and San Antonio, as well as veteran locations in Chicago, Nashville and Mexico City. And Tommie is the new kid on the block. It’s only the second iteration of the brand after Tommie Hollywood, which opened last December, and the two Tommies are expected to be the only such properties in the country for the foreseeable future.

On a recent trip to Austin, I stayed at Thompson and tommie’s and, in the name of extensive research, visited every bar and restaurant on site. Here’s what you need to know.

Interior of the Diner Bar

Jasmine Porter

First impressions

Pull forward and you are faced with two doors. On your left: the Thompson Austin lobby entrance. Here you will find a nice range of low furniture and a massive fireplace, as well as the reception desk. Take the door on the right and you’re in an all-day cafe that doubles as the lobby and check-in point for Tommie. The coffee program is run by a local outfit, Greater Goods Coffee Co., and the bar also serves beer and wine. Southwestern art decorates the space, and there’s plenty of room to relax at the coffee bar, communal table, or sofas set around a glass-enclosed fireplace. Both inputs are wired, so you can easily switch between them as needed.

There is no lobby bar here. Instead, the ground floor is home to two stand-alone concepts, The Diner Bar and The Gray Market, offshoots of Savannah’s famed restaurant, The Grey.

Interior of a room at tommie's.

Interior of a room at tommie’s.

Hotel Tommie, Austin

Inside the rooms

The bank of elevators at the back leads to the two sets of rooms, which are clearly marked. A black carpet leads to the Thompson, while a red carpet takes you to tommie. Thompson Austin has 212 rooms, with kings and double queens around 400 square feet and the largest suites exceeding 800 square feet. If you’re traveling alone or with a partner, the Standard King Room has plenty of room to move around, and there’s a desk if you need to get some work done. Of course, if you’re staying a while or spending someone else’s money, a sequel can’t hurt. These have separate living areas and plenty of elbow room. All bathrooms are equipped with rain showers and DS & Durga bath products.

Tommie’s 193 rooms are smaller, with layouts ranging from 200 to 310 square feet. Each has a king bed and a few thoughtful design features, like a multifunctional surface that contains a sink, work space, and rotating mirror. The hotel is ideal for solo travelers, but couples will do on shorter stays — rooms are similar in size, and often larger, than what you’ll find in New York and other large hotels cities. It’s cheaper than Thompson, and the property is aimed at travelers who plan to spend their trip exploring the city, not hanging out in the room.

A unique result of side-by-side hotels is the ability for travelers at different price points to share the same building. Whether it’s executives and support staff in town for a conference, festival bands and their teams, a wedding or bachelor party, the biggest players can stay in Thompson while more budget conscious travelers can mail to tommie.

DB Bar Snack Fried Ugali with Salsa Macha

DB Bar Snack Fried Ugali with Salsa Macha

Jasmine Porter

Eat and drink

Austin has plenty of local culinary talent, but Thompson and Tommie brought in outside ringers to create their food and drink concepts. Mashama Bailey, who you might recognize from his star activation Chef’s table, hails from The Gray in Savannah, for which she won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast. She and co-founder Johno Morisano created Dinner bar and The gray market here, enlisting longtime Austin chef Kristine Kittrell to run the kitchen.

Diner Bar is a casual spot that channels southern cuisine from the original port city, but uses ingredients sourced from local ranchers and farmers. On the menu, pan-fried trout with brown butter and braised leeks, peasant pasta with egg yolk, Parmigiano Reggiano and house-cured pork belly, roast half-chicken and grilled whole fish. The bar serves a mix of signature and classic cocktails and serves snacks like oysters, marinated olives, and baked chicken wings.

The Gray Market is an all-day hangout with retro lunch counter vibes. Sit down for breakfast or lunch, or browse the shelves for a selection of grab-and-go items like sandwiches, salads and cold drinks. The menu includes breakfast favorites like bacon egg and cheese on a kaiser bun and hearty dishes like fish and grits, a double cheeseburger and a fried oyster sandwich. If you’re around on Sunday, try the Sunday Fried Chicken, seasoned with homemade blackening spices and served with bread and pickles.

On the fourth floor is wax myrtle, a vast space with indoor and outdoor bars, a dining room, a green terrace and a swimming pool. It was created by the Land and Sea Dept. of Chicago, the hotel group responsible for a handful of that city’s heavyweights, including Longman & Eagle and several concepts within the Chicago Athletic Association. The daily menu is light and shareable, with easy-to-eat poolside salads, spreads and tacos. The evening sees a new menu that features snacks, shared plates and entrees and includes charred octopus skewers, heritage pork chops and a “great prime rib”. Local wines and beers are served alongside creative cocktails, such as the Ice-cold Dazey with tequila, mezcal, sherry and lime and the Moon-Tower with gin, vermouth, honey and olive oil. lemon.

Wax Myrtle’s indoor bar and dining room are great places to hang out, but the terrace is the real star here. It is located in the heart of the city center, with views of neighboring buildings and the busy streets below. Grab a cocktail and a canape for the sunset, then stick around – the view only gets better as the sky darkens.

Thompson and Tommie are welcome additions to Austin, and between the two properties they contain everything a business traveler, festival-goer or vacationer needs: namely, a comfortable place to rest their head that doesn’t look like to all other hotels in town, plus a host of onsite food and drink options. There’s even a wellness center with a gym, yoga studio, and golf simulator, in case you need to unwind. The downtown location means you’re close to plenty more bars, restaurants, and things to do, but with much of Austin’s charms located outside of downtown, you’re also carpooling minutes away to explore all the city has to offer.

David H. Henry